So, what exactly is SEO? Like, basically?

Storytelling for Success

If you’re already an SEO badass, the cat that won’t cop out when there’s danger all about, then this blog post isn’t for you.

But if you’re new-to or on-the-margins-of or just-curious-about online marketing? Well, my friend, you are about to enter the land of the TLA — the Three Letter Acronym. You can’t swing a cat (not that you would, you’re not a monster) without hitting a B2B or a CTR or a PPC. And they’re all important. But they’re not equally important. The 800 pound gorilla, in my humble opinion, is good ol’ SEO. 

Search Engine Optimization.

Let’s start with the obvious. They call it Search Engine Optimization because they can’t call it Please Notice Me, Google Senpai. I love the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as much as anyone, but no one out here on these Internet streets is optimizing for Bing. DuckDuckGo is swank if you’re into privacy, and Dogpile is a good idea, but Google is the leader in search. You know how in some regions, Coke means any brand of soda? How Kleenex is both a trademarked term but is also a word used for all sorts of tissue? That’s how ubiquitous Google is. It’s even become a verb. And that little linguistic clue tells you who runs this show.

Which means in practical terms, SEO is the quest to show up on the first page of search results when someone looks stuff up using Google. That could be for a business, a charity, a recipe…anything, really. Because very few people scroll to the bottom of the page and click on that wee blue number two.

Which is where it gets tricky. Google doesn’t want you to game the system. Not because they’re some evil empire itching to show off the firepower of their fully armed and operational battle station, but because they want to give the most useful possible response to searches and thus maintain their spot on the top of the heap. So if you play by the rules, that’s called White Hat SEO. If you don’t, that’s called Black Hat SEO. Annnnnd if you sometimes set the merest tip of your big toe exactly on the line between the two? Gray Hat SEO.

But what are the rules? Where are they written down? How do I do that voodoo that I must do so well? One of the best places to start is the Moz Free Beginner’s Guide. It lays out all the basics in a readable, intelligent format. Go! Read! Be enlightened! Notice how well-written content is vital to the whole process! Then you’ll know what the social media and marketing folks are talking about in the break room — and you’ll be able to make better decisions for your business if you decide to hire an SEO strategist.

I know. I’m a sweetheart, right? Feel free to send me flowers and champagne. You can even Google for a florist.

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2 responses to “So, what exactly is SEO? Like, basically?

  1. An old SEO joke:

    Where’s the best place to hide a body?
    Page 2 of Google Search results.

    Love the article! And I hear that Shaft is one bad mother…

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