How Does SEO Work? | Understanding Modern SEO Programs

How Does SEO Work - Book Changing to a Computer Graphic

We know how difficult it can be to understand SEO. Understanding all the complexities of SEO is a full-time job. Unless you work in it every day, there isn’t enough time to keep up with everything. However, SEO shouldn’t be written off as too complex and ignored. There are some basic parts that everyone should understand. A metaphor that I have found helpful is to view building your website as writing a book and search engines as libraries and bookstores.

SEO Part 1: Develop Great Content

When creating content for any medium, the content needs to be informational, original and easy to digest. No one will read a book that is uninteresting, off-topic or heavier than it needs to be.

Considerations for creating great digital content include:

  • Perform trend and keyword research to make sure that the selected topic is valid and optimized.
  • Format and style content properly so that it is easy to digest.
  • Optimize website performance so that the content will load quickly.
  • Monitor bounce rates and user behavior. Search engines watch for how long users stay on a website. If users frequently bounce, your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings will decrease.

SEO Part 2: Optimize the Structure of the Content – Tags, HTML Markup, Accessibility, Mobile Responsiveness and Microdata

This is the stage where the author and publisher would optimize a book to ensure that it is in the best format for all users. This would include building a table of contents, adding annotations, creating large print versions, translations and optimizing the content.

Considerations for optimizing digital content include:

  • Optimize the behind the scenes elements like tags and HTML markup. Search engines look for certain things to build out search results and determine the quality of content.
  • Make sure that content meets all accessibility requirements and that it is responsive to different device types. Search engines favor content that works well on all devices for all users. Additionally, it is never a good idea to alienate a portion of your audience.
  • Add in microdata or schema markup. Normal, human-digestible content is more like a second language to search engines. In some cases, search engines can gain more valuable insights from microdata.

SEO Part 3: Conversion Optimizations – Local SEO, Voice SEO and SERP Appearance

Now that the content is written and optimized, the book needs a good cover to maximize conversions. On a book, a cover needs to be eye-catching, match the content and match what people are searching for. The same applies to how a website appears in Search Engine Result Pages. A SERP snippet or result needs to follow the same guidelines

Considerations for optimizing digital content for conversions include:

  • Develop quality meta descriptions and titles to stand out and help drive conversions from search engines.
  • Match content and SERPs to different intents like voice searches and local searches. Let the search engine and users know if your content is relevant to a user’s area. Stay conversational in content and keep the way voice search is used in mind.
  • Manage your Google My Business listing and other local citations.

SEO Part 4: Publishing – Get Content Indexed by Search Engines and Promote Content

Now an author could stop here but their book would never be found. For a book to become successful, it needs to be distributed to all the libraries and bookstores. The same applies to websites and search engines.

Considerations for publishing digital content include:

  • Create and regularly update sitemaps to help search engines find content.
  • Monitor the index status of content to ensure that search engines can access content.
  • Create a strategic plan to maximize results when publishing and promoting content across digital channels.

SEO Part 5: Reputation Management and Backlinks

One of the final parts of a successful SEO program involves recommendations and reviews. It is more likely that others will choose a resource with suggestions and positive reviews. The same follows for digital content with both users and search engines.

Considerations for managing the reputation of digital content include:

  • Monitor your digital reputation and reviews. Reviews help to drive conversions across websites and search engines. Ensuring that positive reviews are available can significantly impact traffic, conversion rates and SEO.
  • Acquire and curate backlinks from other reputable websites. Much like how we trust reviews and recommendations, search engines consider a backlink a recommendation. The number and quality of backlinks can significantly impact SERP rankings.

SEO Part 6: Keep Content Updated

At this point, the content has been out a while and done well. We could leave it alone, but traction will be lost over time as the content gets out of date. To prevent this from happening, new updated editions or versions should be released.

Considerations for updating digital content include:

  • Review the content and make updates when appropriate. This can help to keep content relevant and recent. That helps with both search engines and users.

Final Notes on SEO

Developing an effective SEO campaign requires planning and an efficient strategy to pull all the different parts together. The different parts can have an impact alone but deliver much stronger results when working together within a cohesive plan.