Here’s a fun perk of working in the SEO industry—people always ask me some variation of this question.
So…I’ve heard that this SEO thing is good for my business. Why?”
I’ve since perfected my pitch:
When you’re good at SEO, your website gets on the first page of Google.
This usually gets an “Oh, that’s so cool. I want that!”
It’s as simple as that, and it is cool!
When I first started learning SEO, I was very nearly frightened off by terms like crawlers, backlinks, anchor text, nofollow vs. “dofollow,” white-hat vs. black-hat… the list goes on.
The industry seems to be plagued with technical jargon and complicated concepts, to the point where people struggle to understand what needs to be done.
Sounds like you? If so, you’re in the right place.
I’ll be preparing you for your first steps in SEO, all with explanations and language that are easy to understand.
Let’s get ranking! But first, a quick primer…
What are search engines, actually?
What’s the big deal with Google? What makes it different from Yahoo and Bing? Also, what manner of creatures are Naver, Baidu and Yandex?
They’re all search engines.
Essentially, what search engines do is collect information and content from all over the web and store it in a database.
According to a November 2018 report by netmarketshare, 73% of all searches are powered by Google. In second place is Bing with 7.91%.
An almost shockingly huge difference, yes.
So… what exactly makes one search engine so different from another?
- Size of their database;
- How they determine which pages are relevant;
- Specialization in market/type of content.
Google dominates the market because of the sheer size of its index, as well as the way it calculates page relevancy: i.e., its algorithm (more on that in a bit.)
In short, it’s proven itself to be by far and away the best at answering peoples’ queries with appropriate content. It’s now pretty much the way everyone in the world–except China–finds stuff online.
Of course, more specialized search engines also exist. Naver, Baidu and Yandex are examples of search engines that target specific markets–Korea, China and Russia respectively.
Fun fact: YouTube is also a search engine!
How does Google work?
So we know who the biggest player in the game is; now we need to know how it works.
Here’s a simplified version of the entire process of search, split into three parts: crawling, indexing and returning queries.
Or, in plain English: finding pages, storing them and then showing them to searchers.
Imagine that you need to explore an unknown country. You start in a small town and drive down a road that connects you to the next town. You take the next road to the next town, and the next road after that. If you drive down every possible road from your starting point, you’ll eventually end up discovering every town.
This is how Google works–except the towns are web pages, and the roads connecting them are backlinks.
So: Google first starts with one webpage. It finds the links on these webpages and follows them to discover other webpages. It then finds all the links on those pages, and the next pages, and the next. Eventually, they’re able to discover pretty much everything on the web.
And how does Google do this?
It uses a computer program that’s commonly referred to as a crawler to “crawl,” or discover, pages and links.
Crawlers are sometimes also called “spiders”–because they, too, crawl the web.
In SEO, we want to do everything we can to make the spider’s job easier. This, in turn, makes it easier for our webpages to get crawled.
After finding pages on the web, the spiders then extract data from them and store, or “index,” said data in Google’s database—to then be shown in search results.
Here’s the fun part: spiders don’t actually view webpages the way humans do.
This is how you and I see the Ahrefs blog:
And here’s how Googlebot (Google’s web crawler/spider) sees the Ahrefs blog:
That’s the kind of data spiders collect and store: the date a page was created, its title and meta description, main keywords, links to and from it and other details specific to that search engine’s algorithm.
Try it out for yourself—think of your favorite website, then enter it into this page to see how it looks to a spider. Pretty different, huh?
In SEO, we want to ensure that the data that Google indexes after crawling our pages is as accurate as possible. This makes it much more likely that they show up in search results where we want them to. There is a professional company which resell SEO services and may duplicate your site traffic just in a few days.
When you enter a search query into Google, it searches in its database for the webpages that are most relevant to your query and displays them as search results. This relevancy is determined by its algorithm.
Unfortunately, nobody knows exactly what Google’s algorithm prioritizes…except for one universally agreed-on factor:
The number of quality backlinks to the target page.
Google places strong emphasis on backlinks as a form of authority and relevance.
Even as a beginner, there are thankfully plenty of ways you can get yourself ahead of the game when it comes to backlinks. We’ll cover this a little later on.
How do I optimize my website for Google?
Now we know that webpages need to be crawled and indexed.
Which brings us to the big question: what do we do to help this process along? And when it comes down to it…just what are we optimizing in “search engine optimization”?
The answer can generally be split into two categories, namely on-page and off-page efforts.
On-page SEO is all about adjusting elements on a webpage so that Google understands what it’s about, recognizes how awesome it is and decides that it deserves to be #1 in search results.
(This doesn’t happen all the time, but one can dream.)
On the other hand, off-page SEO is a fancy way to say “build lots of great backlinks so that Google thinks of your page as trustworthy.”
Generally speaking, the more and better quality backlinks you have, the more your pages are prioritized in search results. We have Google’s algorithm to thank for this.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to wrap your head around everything right now.