Digital Profits Podcast – Episode 16: What Is SEO and How Does It Work?

If you’re keen on stepping up your business’s digital marketing game, it’s time to get cozy with the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s a big deal when it comes to making sure folks can find and get to know your brand online. SEO is a game-changer!

With a few simple tactics, you can make sure that your website appears near the top when someone searches for terms related to what it is that your company does. In this blog post, we’ll explore exactly what SEO is and how it works so that even novice digital marketers can quickly get up-to-speed on mastering this essential element in their online strategy.

Introducing SEO – An Overview of What It Is 

If you’re looking to boost your website’s visibility on search engines, then you need to know all about SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s the process of optimizing your website to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s like giving your website a makeover to make it an attractive candidate for search engines to feature at the top. 

With SEO, you’re not only obtaining a better visibility online but also driving more traffic to your website. And, as we all know, more traffic leads to more potential for increased business revenue. So, if you want to succeed in today’s digitally-focused world, it’s essential to master the art of SEO. 

Understanding the Basics of SEO and How Search Engines Work 

Are you tired of your website being buried on the second, third, or even further pages of search results? It’s time to take control of your online presence and understand the basics of SEO. By optimizing your website with keywords, meta descriptions, and quality content, you can improve your chances of ranking higher on search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. 

But how exactly do these search engines work? Through complex algorithms that take into account a multitude of factors, such as relevance, authority, and user experience, search engines determine the most relevant results for a given query. It’s all about understanding what search engines are looking for and adapting your website accordingly. So, let’s get started on your journey to a more visible and successful online presence!

The Benefits of Optimizing Your Website for SEO 

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, having a website isn’t enough—websites must be optimized to reach the right audience effectively. The benefits of optimizing your website for SEO are numerous; it can generate more leads, increase revenue, and improve brand recognition. 

By ensuring that your website ranks higher in search engine results pages, you can make sure that people find your content faster and easier, ultimately driving more traffic to your website. So why not take advantage of this opportunity to enhance your online presence? With a little know-how and a lot of hard work, you can reap the benefits of SEO optimization, and watch your website transform into a powerful tool for your business.

Keyword Research – Uncovering the Right Phrases to Target 

Are you tired of not seeing results from your website’s traffic? If so, it might be time to take a closer look at your keyword research. When it comes to attracting the right audience, targeting the right phrases is key. By uncovering the most valuable keywords to focus on, you can bring in more relevant traffic and ultimately increase conversions. It’s all about knowing your audience and speaking their language. 

So, let’s dive in and discover the power of keyword research together! With a bit of energy and some strategic planning, you’ll be on your way to reaching the right audience and achieving your website goals.

On-Page Optimization – Crafting Quality Content That Ranks 

Are you tired of creating content that never seems to get the traffic it deserves? It’s time to learn the art of on-page optimization and craft quality content that ranks! By optimizing your website’s web pages, you can increase your search engine visibility and attract a larger audience. But this isn’t just about stuffing keywords into your content. High-quality, informative, and engaging content is the key to success in today’s digital landscape. 

By crafting content that grabs the attention of your target audience, you can improve your rankings, drive traffic to your website, and boost your overall online presence. So why settle for mediocre content when you can achieve greatness with on-page optimization? Let’s rank higher and attract more visitors together!

Off-Page Optimization – Generating Quality Links to Boost Rankings 

Ready to kick your website up a notch in the rankings? It’s time to talk about off-page optimization, and more specifically, the power of good ol’ quality links. When you build a solid network of links pointing back to your site, search engines sit up and take notice. They see your site as a top-notch source of info and give your ranking a boost. It’s as simple as that.

But don’t be fooled by quantity over quality; it’s essential to focus on generating high-quality links from reputable sources. With a little dedication and the right strategy, your website has the potential to climb up the search engine ranks and attract even more traffic and engagement. So what are you waiting for? Get started on your off-page optimization journey today!

Measuring and Tracking Your Progress – Understanding Your Results

Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step towards success by recognizing the importance of measuring and tracking your progress. However, it’s not enough to simply gather data. You need to understand what your results mean in order to make informed decisions about your next steps. 

Don’t panic if you see something unexpected, every data point is an opportunity for growth. Instead of getting discouraged, embrace the challenges and use the information to pivot your strategy. Trust us, it’s worth the effort to understand your results because it will help you achieve your goals faster and with more confidence. Keep up the great work!

SEO is an important tool for businesses that wish to reach their desired audience online. 

There are numerous benefits that come with employing SEO, from expanding your potential customer base to improving website usability and driving more qualified leads. In order to get the most out of your SEO efforts, it’s essential to understand all aspects from keyword research to link building. Not only can this help you find success in search engine rankings, but it will also give you key insights into the behavior and preferences of your target audience.  

Don’t miss out on these amazing opportunities–Once you fully understand how SEO works, there’s no limit to what you can achieve! Start optimizing your website and track your progress today!

Demystify Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when you tune in to the Digital Profit Podcast’s Ep 16: What is SEO and How Does it Work? with the Profit Squad. With over 90% of online journeys starting with a search, understanding SEO is key. 

Learn how to drive organic traffic, and why being on the first page of search results matters. Discover search intent types through a clever library metaphor and get insights on Technical, On-page, and Off-page SEO, and the vital role of keyword research. Equip your business with the tools for sustained online growth!

Welcome to the Digital Profits Podcast, where you’ll learn how to grow your business faster using paid traffic and SEO. Each episode will feature a breakdown of digital marketing trends and answers to your burning questions that will provide actionable takeaways to make your marketing better. So join us Ben Page, Ray Sawvell, and Blake John, as we guide you on your journey to higher profits. Remember to join the Profit and get ready to profit in 3,2,1.

Ben Page: Hey, squad. I’m here today with Blake 

Blake John: Hey, team. 

Ben Page: And it’s a special episode. We’re going to talk about what is SEO and how does it work? In other words, SEO Demystified. So this is great if you are busy running your business, you have maybe heard the term before, but never really bothered to go deeper in learning what it means. Or perhaps you think you sort of know what it means, but you’d like to know with greater certainty what it means. This one is for you. And as always, reach out to us if you have questions. We would love to answer those questions, so let’s kick it off. Blake, what is SEO?

Blake John: SEO, and specifically, search engine optimization is the process of making your business and really your website easy to find on search. And really specifically, we’re talking mostly here about Google search. It’s worth noting that there are lots of search engines, but Google is really the predominant one. We’re not as quite as worried about Yahoo and DuckDuckGo, and, I mean, you could even lump Amazon in as a big search engine as well. But we’re predominantly talking about Google search today. But it’s the process of making your website easy to find on search.

Ben Page: Yeah. And one definition I heard, or one explanation I’ve heard recently about search engine optimization is that word. That phrase is kind of a misnomer because most of the action happens on your website. Right. I think one thing you said earlier is we’re primarily focused on optimizing the content that we put into the world so that the search engine and humans can find it, that it’s helpful, that it’s relevant to them. So that makes sense. I mean, why should people care about SEO in digital marketing today? So many differing opinions about what tactics are going to work best. And some people say social media and post everywhere and post ten times a day. And some people are no, just if you build it, they will come and put out this content on your site. And some people are all advertising or all email or all physical direct mail pieces. Why should people care about SEO, especially if they have limited?

Blake John: Absolutely. I mean, really, first and foremost, Google is where your users are, like, where your audience is. They’re searching for your products on Google to find the products and services that you offer, essentially. Right. And I think we have a couple of statistics here, but one of the big one that always stands out for me is that something like 90%? I think it was 92% of all online experiences begin with a search. And if you just imagine the breadth of that, how many just online experiences are happening on a daily basis and how many of those, the vast majority of those are beginning with like a Google search. You want to be in there, you want to be a part of that, and you want to be able to have your website be found on Google Search because there’s just so much volume and there’s so much demand and it’s all being siphoned and being started with Google search.

Ben Page: Yeah. The fourth edition of The Art of SEO, which came out recently, cited a statistic that said, I believe something approximating seven and a half billion queries are processed every day by Google worldwide, which is a mind boggling amount of Google searches.

Blake John: Yeah, it truly blows my mind the amount of searches that are happening just per second. Like, hard to wrap your mind around. And again, there’s so much volume out there. And if you’re sort of thinking about digital marketing as a whole strategy, I feel SEO needs to be a part of that because of the demand, because of the volume, and because that’s where your users oftentimes are starting their journey to find what you offer.

Ben Page: And at the core of it, people turn to search when they need a solution, when they have a question that they need answered. And so to your point, it’s become a natural habit or default behavior that if I need to find a piece of information or solve a problem, I’m going to search most.

Blake John: I mean, that’s like Google’s whole mission is to deliver helpful, relevant content, and they’ve gotten so good at it, and their product and just their search product specifically is superior to all other search products. And that’s why it’s become habitual for us to just, oh, let me look it up. You know what I mean? It’s just ingrained in our nature and our entire culture. And again, that’s why you want to be there if you can be there.

Ben Page: Right. And some studies say that organic search accounts for 50% or more of all website traffic, and three in four users never scroll past the first page in the search results, which also because of the difficulty of pulling that off, you’re not going to get there by accident most times.

Blake John: Yeah, I’ll be honest, I saw that stat. It’s 75% of users never to never scroll best the first page. I was surprised it wasn’t higher. I thought it would have been closer to like 90, 95% of people. Because it’s kind of like a joke that we say that digital market first. If you’re not on the first page, you’re not there, you’re invisible. Right, because no one’s really going to page two. I will say too, though, just as like a caveat, google has sort of rolled out like the infinite scroll.

Ben Page: Yes.

Blake John: Which is interesting, I guess, and it is not so recent anymore, to be honest, but I’ve noticed just in my own searching habits that sometimes I’ll end up I’m like, oh, this is the 11th result. I hadn’t seen one of these in a long time.

Ben Page: Your scroll depth increases because of the change in the layout. Yeah, that makes sense. So ultimately, hopefully, this makes sense, right? Connecting the dots. People turn to search when they need solutions, products, information, search accounts for half or maybe even the majority of website traffic online. Most users are looking at the first page and even more disproportionate, the top of the first page as the best answers for them in most cases. And the difficulty of getting those top positions because of the competition for those spots has increased year on year on year, as well as the different kinds of formats that appear in the search engine. Results have changed over time. That’s why you should care, because there’s a massive opportunity, a massive business opportunity, and because if you don’t take action, it’s likely that someone else wants that top spot and will take action. And in which case you’d be missing out on a ton of visibility, traffic, conversions, sales, you name it, leads. So it’s important. So let’s break this down. Blake, how do search engines work on a very high level?

Blake John: There’s really three core processes that happen from a search engine’s perspective, right? And how they actually work. There’s crawling, indexing and serving. So starting with crawling, the one thing that Google does in all search engines really do is they send out what we commonly refer to as a spider like crawling the web. It’s just a bot that just goes out and literally finds all of the information that it can. And it’s doing this all the time, constantly, to build a huge, massive database of information, of web pages, of different kinds of media, so that they can then index that information. And this is the part now, this is sort of phase two in the process where Google, it’s got this database. Now it has to sort of analyze, organize, assess that content, that media, so that it can serve it in search results, which is the third phase. And that’s where when you enter your query, you’ll see it and all that magic is happening at lightning speed. That was hard to fathom, but when you search something within a quarter of a second, I would say probably you’re getting literally thousands of results. That’s kind of what that looks like. So it’s crawling, indexing and serving content throughout the web. That’s the core process for Google and how it really works.

Ben Page: So to kind of rephrase that or rehash it, it’s imagine a software bot, a software agent is going on the Internet and it has like a website as a starting point, and it clicks all the links on that website and it figures out how many different pages there are. And then it kind of reads all the words in the page, if it can, in the code, and it tries to understand what is this really about, and then, oh, there’s a link to another website here, let me click on that. Now, what is this one about? And as it does that, and as it understands the words in the different code on that website, it’s like on the back end, it’s got a library, in a sense, right? A huge library with different categories, different shelves for different kinds of topics. And then once it’s identified a new sort of piece of content on a given topic, it says, this is helpful, I should take this helpful piece of information and go put it in my library on the shelf about Koalas. And it’s pretty in depth, so it’s going to go on this top shelf over here in this section and then it makes kind of a record of that. And then in the future when someone searches for Koalas, it might look at all of the information it has on Koalas and say, well, based on the way this person’s searching, I better return that thing I found about Koalas before. That was really helpful. Let’s see if the user likes that, if that helps them to answer their question.

Blake John: Yeah, and to add to that, I like to think the library analogy is great and I like to think that there’s for every the library example, you have to imagine millions of shelves and rows of shelves, but at the end of every shelf or at the end of every row excuse me, is like an end cap. And that’s page one. It’s sort of the way that I’ve always sort of imagined this. And there’s a shelf just about Koalas and it’s a million books deep, literally, but there’s only ten in the end cap because that’s what Google has surfaced, the best of it’s, the best of the best. This is what users find most engaging and most helpful, et cetera. This is what we’ve, when we’ve analyzed it, this has risen to the top. But yeah, the analogy you just have to imagine truly how vast that library would be. Google’s organized it all. And then at the end of every row is an end cap with the best of the best. That’s page one of Google.

Ben Page: That’s awesome because now I can picture that and having that model in my brain is so helpful. And then I’m thinking about the different librarians that are walking around as maybe different of these agents or these bots or these algorithms that based on the kind of search, they’re going to go to different sections and pull out different books from the end caps based on what they’re trying to solve.

Blake John: Right? And there’s like so many little nuances to every query, which we’ll talk about in a little bit with like, and maybe this is a good transition actually, right now, but it’s understanding that user’s intent and their needs. And if you just search Koala, or like, what do Koalas eat, those are two very different searches. There’s obviously some similarities there, but they’re going to likely have different search results because one might be more specific about the nutrition, the diet, how often they eat, et cetera, et cetera. Whereas one might just be more general about Koalas, where they live. I don’t know how often they breed, total population, just things like that. You know what I mean? Facts, just general facts, et cetera. Whereas one is like, this is everything you could ever want to know about aquala’s nutrition and their diet, whereas one is just general. And so those are two rows of library books with two different end caps now that you can optimize for and you can build content.

Ben Page: Now let’s this is clicking. I’m taking your metaphor, and I’m evolving in a little bit. So at face value, taking the Koala thing, if someone enters the one word Koala into Google, at face value, that’s an ambiguous search because again, we don’t know their intent. Do they want general facts? How many koalas are there? What colors are Koalas? Where do they live? Do they want to buy one? Do they need to feed one? Do they just want pictures of Koalas for a school presentation, whatever the case might be? So at face value, that’s an ambiguous query. But back to our library. Imagine that the librarian, when you walk in there and you go up to the front desk and you just look at that librarian and say, Koala. Imagine that librarian knew every other time you’ve been to the library everything you’ve ever searched, and even more about you, because they also have access to your personal mailbox at your home and the media that you consume and behavioral statistics about what you do in other libraries. Now, they can actually try to disambiguate or give meaning to your one word koala, but that’s kind of an aside. So just keep in mind that was a metaphor for personalization, which is happening in conjunction with this basic query type discussion. So what are other kinds of keywords? We talked informational. What if I put in buy Koalas online?

Blake John: Yeah, that would be so yeah, there’s really four I think there’s probably more than this truthfully, but generally speaking, in the SEO, we sort of lump search terms into four buckets into types of search intent. That’s navigational, commercial informational, and transactional. If you were looking to buy a Koala, which I don’t know how that I guess I don’t know that process very well.

Ben Page: Maybe it’s worth a Google search, probably not even legal.

Blake John: Yeah, I was going to say, well, you might be a zoo. I mean, zoos probably use Google Buy.

Ben Page: There’s transferring happening, but that would be.

Blake John: A transactional search term. And generally speaking, those are easy to spot. Generally it can get a little more nuanced with informational and commercial where Google will send sort of mixed intents on a search result page. Which it’s important to mention too, when anytime a user searches a query, google will deliver the results based on essentially those four categories or types. So if they understand that users who search this query are oftentimes just looking for general information to learn about koalas or learn about gardening or whatever the topic is, they’ll send a blog post with a bunch of information that you can read up on and learn about that topic. Whereas if you search another query, say like gardening tools now maybe they’re going to send you to an ecommerce website where you can actually purchase, I don’t know, like a rake or whatever it might be, right? I don’t know, like weed pulling tools and stuff, whatever gloves, you know what I mean, like equipment, supplies to garden. So those intents are really important when understanding how search really works in what kind of results that you see on the web when you perform your own search. Because ultimately Google will generally categorize the search results into those four buckets.

Ben Page: That makes sense. And additionally there are different kinds of search results. There are websites, there’s maps, images, shopping, news, video, there are multiple different kinds which again are delivered to people based on the kind of search and the specific search and their past searches. So keep in mind there are multiple ways that you can be visible online and increasingly there are what SEOs call zero click SERPs or search engine result pages. So you have to kind of keep those in mind.

Blake John: Yeah, absolutely. And I will say too, a lot of times you’ll see certain SERP features based on the intent of a query. So if you just Google Koalas, again going back to the example, you’re likely to see images, wikipedia images, like the image. If you Google a celebrity’s name, great, really high probability chance you’re going to see an image of that celebrity with. They also have a carousel of similar celebrities or other celebrities that people search.

Ben Page: Also search for.

Blake John: Yeah, also search for. And that’s another one too. People also ask for that’s another search feature that’s just really common, especially in informational search queries. There’s lots of things that you’ll notice to help, sort of help you sort of understand what type of intent a query fits into, whether it’s informational navigational, transactional or commercial.

Ben Page: Yeah, that makes sense. And ultimately that search engine, it wants to deliver the best answer to that user as quickly as possible. Because going back to that idea of how do you keep people using your product, make it easy, make it fast, make it helpful. And those are some of the principles that are being engineered for, designed for from the search engine side. So now we understand a little bit about how people search. We understand a little bit about keywords, how search engines work. Let’s talk high level. How do you do, SEO? Like, what does quote unquote, an SEO professional do day in and day out in order to improve visibility in the search engines?

Blake John: Yes, there’s really three core pillars that I like to call them for SEO. Again, specifically, now we’re talking about how you actually do SEO. There’s technical SEO on page SEO and off page SEO. I don’t think we’re going to go into too great of depth about technical SEO, but it’s important to mention that really the most important thing from a technical perspective is to make sure that there’s no issues with your site that would prevent Google or any other search engine from crawling and indexing your content. The really most obvious one is like a no index tag which says to Google, like, hey, literally don’t index our website. I have seen whole websites with that that shouldn’t have been like that another issue like that. And again, we won’t get into too much stuff, but improper use of canonical tags would be another issue that could really prevent Google or another search engine from indexing your site.

Ben Page: So we’re talking about things like literally pieces of code that can exist on your website that could prevent that search engine from entering it and going through that process of clicking the links and reading the words and figuring out the images. Right. Because if you don’t have that, then everything else you do is for not right.

Blake John: Exactly. So getting that right is really important and then going to the next phase here. It’s like on page SEO, that’s really where I’m personally living most of the time. That’s because 80 20. I think that’s where a lot of the opportunities come out of, especially when you make sure that technical underpinnings are all good and ready to go. On page SEO is really now we’re talking about the actual content, the user experience on the website, and specifically that’s things like the headings of a website, the title tags. And title tags are quite literally the blue link in Google that you click on when you see an organic search result. That’s the title tag. So Google puts a lot of weight, and there’s various things on the page, on every page that have different levels of importance that Google will sort of assess and analyze to understand how good of a job your site or your page does in answering a user’s question. But ultimately, that’s the core of on page SEO. Off page SEO is really more about your external profile. So some good examples of that that are really, really important. One is our backlinks, which we should absolutely mention. And these are links from external websites pointing back to your website. Over the years, there’s some debate about this, but it’s my opinion that backlinks have become less and less important. They’re still very important, but they’ve become less important but those are a really big part of off page SEO. Other off page SEO examples are things like your Google Business Profile, which is obviously a very important, especially if you’re a local business, a very important component that you need to consider. It could be directory listings, it could be your social media profiles. All of that would be considered off page SEO. That some of those social doesn’t necessarily have a huge impact on SEO, but it can actually play a role and it can be a factor when Google is sort of evaluating your domain and your authority just as an overall unit.

Ben Page: Yeah. And to make that, I don’t know, more real for folks. It’s like if you identify some of the keywords you want to be visible for in the search engine results with off page SEO, we’re talking about all of the results that are not tied to website, essentially, whether that’s in that Maps section through Google Business Profile or like Blake, you mentioned directories. So think of or even write, you know, some of those things. Because, again, if it’s a high value, high potential keyword for your business, it’s relevant to what you do. You can help the people searching for that. You want to try to appear as often and as highly as possible in that search engine result for that keyword. And that’s what off page SEO is all about. Absolutely, yeah. What else?

Blake John: I think it’s important to mention, if you’re doing SEO, one of the core processes, and this is sort of like we talked about keywords and queries and whatnot, but keyword research is just one of the most foundational parts of doing SEO and how to do it right. And that’s the process of literally just going to usually use a tool like SEMrush Ahrefs or Google Keyword Planner to find the search terms that your users are entering into Google that you would be relevant for, that are. Relevant to you and then kind of going back and we talked about search intent and going back into understanding. Okay, what kind of intent does this keyword match with? And then, so how can we build a piece of content that meets that query’s intent so that we can, again, build content that is helpful and relevant to the user? That’s like such a core process that I’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that.

Ben Page: That’s awesome. Yeah. And I think maybe a great ending note is the mindset. This is an ongoing process. A lot of people maybe have the mentality that it’s something where you do like a blitz or a sprint and you level up your SEO and you optimize the pages on your site and then you get better SEO, which may or may not be true. I mean, we do these things like developing and promoting content with sort of a scientific approach where we want to study the results of our improvements and over time try to understand which Types Of Improvements lead To The Best Results For us. But it’s ongoing because the search engine results are always changing. User needs are changing. Your business is changing. Your competition is changing all the time. And so it’s always evolving, and you always need to put effort into it to get the result that you want. Or certainly to get a better than average result.

Blake John: Yeah. And another analogy to sort of bring that point home is actually gardening is the one that I think of, and I think this is why I think I brought up gardening before, because I sort of had this analogy in mind already, but with gardening. And I’m not a big gardener, so don’t take this with a grain of salt, but you have to prep the area. If you’re just starting fresh. Imagine you have to sort of prep the area. Get It? All right? You might have to do some weeding. You’re going to have to add new soil, et cetera, et cetera, to sort of lay the foundation. And then there’s constant watering. Pruning, you pull more weeds. Those are always going to pop up. And if you garden, it’s unlikely that you just plant the seeds and then never come back to tend to it. Right. SEO is the same way. You can’t just sort of plant the seeds, can’t lay the bed and then hope it will grow. And in next year. It’s going to look great. Like, no, there’s going to be weeds. Some of the plants are going to be dead because they needed to be tended to and watered and pruned and et cetera. Right? Like SEO in your website. It’s the same thing. It needs constant inputs to get better outputs.

Ben Page: So if you want to plant the seeds of SEO for yourself, and you need help tending your SEO zen garden, reach out to us at two one Hit the contact us. Let us know how we can help. We’re here for you guys. And thanks for listening.

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