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How SEO Works

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

In 2005, when the Huffington Post came online, it’s founders Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, Jonah Peretti, and briefly, Andrew Breitbart, understood the future of the Internet was in content.

At the time, marketers started playing games to find shortcuts to the top organic search spot and Google responded with new algorithms. Google kept changing the rules to stop bad practices and to provide users with the best experience possible, causing a number of sites to lose their ranking and organic position.

Over the years SEO has become very competitive and ranking for popular keywords is nearly impossible.


SEO, or search engine optimization drives traffic to websites. How it works is at best, an educated guesstimate because Google will not open the black box and release their special sauce recipe. Anyone who guarantees you will be at top, is lying because there is no guarantee unless you pay for adwords.

The search engine companies, like Google, change the rules on a regular basis to stop marketers who game the system to get ahead. You do not want to be caught doing something wrong when Google changes the rules because you'll end up having to start from scratch. When creating your SEO strategy keep Google's mission, to provide the best experience for it's users, in mind.

The main key to SEO success seems to be content and like the movie Field of Dreams, if you create good content, traffic will come. The keyword being 'good.'

Good content is consumed by visitors when they engage with the page. How long they stay on the page, if they click to visit other pages on the site, if they click links to visit other websites, if they share the page on social media, and a host of other behaviours visitors can take on a page.

These three aspects of content creation seem to be important:




A Simple SEO Explanation

Imagine Google is a person standing on a stage in a stadium filled with people. He shouts out a keyword and everyone's hands go up. He then starts asking more questions about what you know about that keyword. Then he asks, who uses the keyword a certain number of times? Some hands go down. He then asks, 'How many post about that keyword each week? How many posted that keyword just yesterday? Each time some hands go down. He asks more questions about the webpage content and from those answers, he chooses the top four to six people with their hands still up to join him on the stage.

This is a very simple example of how SEO works because it is a very complex beast. It gives points for and against a page based on policies in place to assess the quality of the page and the site as a whole. There is approx 200 items in the algorithm that it weights in a complex mathematical formula, which it keeps secret.

No one can tell you exactly how to get to the top. The best they can do is tell you which guidelines makes SEO success possible.

SEO Tactics

The best things you can do are:

  • Pick a handful of keywords, create content around those keywords, and continue creating content on a regular basis.

  • Share links to the content on social media to increase traffic and give others the opportunity to link back to you.

  • Collect a number of quality links to share on your site through posts and a list of resources people can click through to.

  • Ensure your content is linked to other content on your site.

  • Register your website on quality directories and engage on collaborative sites and forums with links back to your website.

These are a few activities that will work over the long term. There are a number of other tweaks and practices you engage in once you've built up your content. Remember, SEO is a long term game and takes commitment to consistently post new content.

SEO Real Estate

The amount of organic real estate shrunk when Google placed more adword links at the top of the search list. This has reduced the amount of organic leads available on the front page of any search.

Add to the reduced spots, the growing number of companies focusing on SEO and the level content marketing has increased, the competition for the prime top organic spots is high. It is harder than ever to get to the top of organic searches, so a plan of action must be diverse.

SEO, though important is only one method of obtaining traffic and leads for businesses.

SEO Strategy

Content is the stuff marketers use to tell a story and get the attention of the marketplace. By understanding content, how people interact with it, and which platforms are best suited for each piece of content, a marketing department can develop a successful campaign based on strategy.

Throwing content at the Internet wall hoping something will stick is a waste of time and resources. A strategy that takes all aspects of Internet marketing and real world sales is the most effective and efficient way to meet the goals of a company. If you need help devising a strategy that incorporates SEO with all aspects of the marketing / sales cycle, send us an email.

SEO Expert Sites

Here are a list of my favourite SEO experts. Their sites are filled with information about how to get to the top of organic search. The information can be overwhelming and the workload heavy, however, if you choose those activities that you can consistently do, you will see results. is the best site hands down. Rand Fishkin started this company with his mother and grew it into a powerhouse of information on SEO. has so much information on everything Internet Marketing, that it may take you a lifetime to get through it all. You will find some great insights into SEO.

Whan to write a guest blog, contribute an article, share your story and improve your site’s Domain Authority?

Who are your favourite SEO Experts? Leave a link to their sites in the comments.

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Shannon Peel is a Professional Marketing Manager and Storyteller. Her company, MarketAPeel, helps Professionals define their personal brands and tell their story through different channels, including writing their book.

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