How Does SEO Work?

How Does SEO Work?

You may have heard that SEO is essential if you want to increase traffic to your website.

When you want to increase the number of customers coming to your store, incoming calls and online orders, you need to be visible in Google Search.

Optimizing your web pages helps you rank higher and convert more searchers into customers.

In this article, you will learn the process marketers use to optimize your website for search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and many others.

Let’s start by learning what SEO is.

What Is SEO, Anyway?

What Is SEO, Anyway?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

Basically, SEO is the process of getting your website to rank as high as possible in Google when someone types in [burrito blanket] (or whatever it is you’re selling, promoting, or talking about).

The higher your website ranks, the more visible your business is and the more traffic and sales your business is likely to generate.

You might be a little lost if you are new to SEO.

There are many websites, books and guides (we even wrote one here at Search Engine Journal) to help you get started. But you may find that many sources offer conflicting information.

Part of the reason SEO frustrates so many people is that it is constantly changing.

Why? Because when marketers come up with a new “strategy,” they like to drive it into the ground.

Basically, we are the reason we can’t have nice things.

There’s also the fact that Google is constantly updating its algorithm.

SEO is a never-ending battle to get more attention to your site and convince Google that your site is worth sending searchers to.

How Does SEO Work? Your Top SEO Questions, Answered

How Does SEO Work? Your Top SEO Questions, Answered

So what matters when it comes to SEO?

Before I dive into the more technical aspects of SEO, I’ll answer the most frequently asked SEO questions.

Is SEO Dead?

Our services are finished. I should quit now.

I argue that SEO is constantly dying over and over again. Think of it as Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

The strategies we have come to know and love are being replaced by newer, more effective ones. SEO best practices die and new ones are reborn.

So, while it’s not dead yet, SEO is always changing. If you want to succeed in SEO, you need to be prepared to take hits.

What Is The Most Important SEO Factor?

There is no one golden SEO factor that trumps all others.

One of the most common answers you’ll get in SEO is, “Well, it depends…”

This may be frustrating, but it is the truth.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

How Long Does SEO Take To Work?

Only Google knows exactly how its algorithm works.

They post updates and there are some lists of the most key ranking factors.

The truth is that SEO takes as long as it takes – it can be weeks or even months depending on your strategy.

If someone else does something just a tiny bit better, you might fall off the top of the SERPs.

What Is The Difference Between On-Page SEO & Off-Page SEO?

On-page SEO refers to the changes you make to your website that affect SEO.

For example, adding an XML sitemap to improve your SEO.

Off-page SEO refers to SEO strategies that take place outside of your website, such as building links to column content.

Link Building Is Hard – Can’t I Just Buy Links?

Could. You can also run your hand through a blender. No one will stop you. But often this is an ineffective SEO strategy.

Instead of buying links, I recommend starting with our link building guide.

SEO Factors That Rule Today & Beyond

SEO Factors That Rule Today & Beyond

Now that we’ve covered the basics, you’re ready to get your hands dirty.

Below we will cover some of the most critical SEO factors.

Keep in mind that SEO trends are constantly changing and what works now may not work in a few months.

Relevant, High-Quality Content Wins

There are many technical factors of SEO – website structure, anchor text, URL structure and so on.

These details are important, but the backbone of SEO is high-quality content. Understanding this will make the rest of your SEO much easier.

To crack the first page of Google, you need relevant, well-optimized content that earns links.

What do we mean by high quality content?

There are a few things to keep in mind when developing content:

In short, make sure all your content is written for humans first and optimized for Google second.

Metadata Matters

Metadata is the title and lines of text on a search results page.

For example, if you Google [who killed Carole Baskin’s husband], you will see the following metadata:

Screenshot from search [who killed carole baskin’s husband], Google, July 2022

Metadata tells a user what they can expect to find if they click on a page.

Metadata optimization is quite simple:

Think of metadata as advertisements for your content.

Why should users click? What can you tell them?

Use meta to encourage clicks, which will increase traffic and lead to more business.

Links Matter, But…

Links have been a key aspect of SEO for as long as Google has existed.

Links act as “votes” that tell Google that other websites find your content useful and relevant.

The more high-quality, relevant links you acquire, the higher your site is likely to rank for related key terms.

In short, links are still fundamental to SEO.

But quality is more important than quantity.

If you’re investing in link building as part of your SEO efforts, target links from topically relevant, popular sites in your niche.

User Experience (UX) Impacts Rankings

User experience (UX) plays an important role in how well your website will rank on Google.

However, user experience depends on many factors such as website infrastructure and layout, content, etc., which makes it difficult to measure.

If you want to win at SEO, UX should be a top priority.

Here are some best practices to consider:

As Google gets smarter, UX is likely to play an even more important role in the future.

So now is the time to learn the basics and apply best practices to your website.

Mobile Matters More Than Ever Before

In 2018, Google moved to mobile-first indexing, which means that the search engine uses mobile versions of your website to rank your sites in its results.

Google’s move makes sense since more than 50% of traffic worldwide is generated by mobile devices.

First, Google suggests investing in responsive design. Your content should be consistent across desktop and mobile devices and ensure that your website loads quickly on both mobile and desktop devices.

In short, you need to improve your mobile game or website to stay at the bottom of Google search results.

Don’t Ignore Voice Search

When it comes to voice, there is a lot of conflicting information out there.

Back in 2016, Google said that voice searches accounted for about 20% of all searches performed on the Google app.

Today, more than a quarter of all Americans own a smart speaker. However, 72% of marketers do not plan to optimize for voice search.

Does voice search matter? It’s true.

Voice search has become popular and will likely continue to do so. It shouldn’t be your #1 SEO priority. 1, but it makes sense to start optimizing for voice search.

Most voice search optimization strategies also make sense for semantic search.

Here are some steps to help optimize your website for voice search:

Voice search optimization is currently optional, but voice search optimization makes sense for Google in general and may help you in the future.

3 Tips For Actually Succeeding In SEO

3 Tips For Actually Succeeding In SEO

There are two types of SEO tips: the technical stuff I covered above and the basic SEO principles. Technical things will change, but these SEO tips stand the test of time.

If It Seems Shady, It Will Probably Burn You

You may have heard of black hat, white hat, and gray hat SEO.

Black hat SEO refers to practices that are completely against Google’s terms of service.

Like building 10 sites and linking them together to make Google think your crappy bitcoin sites are legit.

This is where the PBN acronym comes in.

Then there’s the gray hat, which may not be technically wrong, but walks a fine (grey) line.

White hat is above board, completely legal SEO. Some have argued convincingly that the white hat is no longer a thing.

Many SEO experts walk the gray line. And a lot of them get burned.

To succeed at SEO, you need to do things the right way.

If something feels wrong—like buying or selling links—it’s likely to get you burned and reduce your chances in the search.

Trust me. It’s not worth the long-term risk.

Read Real Experts

There are many SEO “experts”.

Some of them claim to get you to the top of the first page of Google “guaranteed!”

Others don’t actually do SEO, but write a lot about it. Make sure your sources are reputable.

Take everything you read with a grain of salt, because nothing is universal.

What works for a tech e-commerce site won’t necessarily work for a restaurant equipment store.

Keep an eye out for what’s coming from Google directly from people like John Mueller and Gary Illyes.

Test, Test, And Test Again

SEO is about determining what works for your website in your industry based on your unique landscape.

The only way to find out is to test – and keep testing.

If you’re using dubious tactics, all your work could go to waste if Google’s latest algorithm update changes things. But if you use SEO best practices and test consistently, you can be prepared for a change in the wind.

Testing is an eternal part of any successful SEO strategy.



Every SEO expert would love to find the magic formula that will propel their websites to the top of the SERPs and keep them there forever.

Unfortunately, that’s not how SEO works.

There are rules and best practices, but the core of SEO is finding out what works for your site or client, and then changing it when it stops working.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Can SEO be done without tools?

I believe you can do SEO without any tools except Google itself. It will be slow because you won’t have access to certain competitive data, but I believe you will have an advantage that many do not have.

How SEO Works For business?

In basic terms, SEO is setting up your online presence in a way that lets search engines and the people who use them know that you have exactly what they’re looking for. Local SEO adds location identifiers that tell search engines that your business is highly relevant to people searching in your service area.

How do you do SEO step by step?

With that, here are the steps to creating an SEO strategy in 2022:

  • Step 1: Create a keyword list.
  • Step 2: Analyze Google’s first page.
  • Step 3: Create something different or better.
  • Step 4: Add the hook.
  • Step 5: Optimize for on-page SEO.
  • Step 6: Optimize for search intent.
  • Step 7: Focus on content design.

Can I do SEO by myself?

If you’ve been wondering, “Can I do SEO myself?” the answer is sure. You don’t need to hire an outside agency to improve your SEO, and this guide provides some basic SEO tips to get you started.

Is SEO hard to do yourself? SEO is simply not as hard as people make it out to be; You can get 95% of the effort with 5% of the work and you absolutely don’t need to hire a professional SEO for this, nor will it be difficult to start ranking for well-chosen key terms.

How much does it cost to do SEO yourself?

The speciesCosts
Cheap SEO500 to 3000 dollars per month
Mid-range SEO$3,000 to $15,000 per month
Top SEO$15,000 to $30,000 per month
SEO for businesses$30,000-$1 million per month

How much does SEO usually cost?

Average SEO costs are $100-$250 per hour for US SEO agencies. SEO costs often range from $2,500 to $10,000 per month for US agencies. The average SEO plan costs $2,819 per month (per Ahrefs). Overseas SEO companies can charge $10-$50 per hour.

Can I do SEO on my own?

You can absolutely do SEO yourself or do it yourself (do it yourself SEO). With a little research and a lot of practice, anyone can learn how to do SEO for their business. A quick way to get started with SEO is to enter your URL here and then focus your SEO efforts on the recommended action items.

How much do freelancers charge for SEO?

Hiring an experienced SEO freelancer or agency on an hourly basis usually costs somewhere between $50 and $150 per hour. Of course, you can find people who charge significantly less or more than this hourly rate. For example, this breakdown of hourly SEO rates showed that 6% of SEO providers charge more than $200/hour.

How much do I charge for SEO work?

53.45% of SEO agencies charge $100/hour compared to only 33.33% of consultants and 15% of freelancers. The most common hourly rate for SEO agencies is $100-$150/hour. It is $75-100/hour for SEO consultants and $41-50/hour for freelancers.

Is SEO good for beginners?

If you’re serious about improving your search traffic and are new to SEO, we recommend reading The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from cover to cover. We’ve tried to make it as concise and easy to understand as possible, and learning the basics of SEO is a crucial first step in achieving your online business goals.

When should I start doing SEO?

Whether you’re launching a brand new website or revamping an existing website, the short answer to the question “When should I start doing SEO for my new website?” is the same – before it launches . Or as the old Chinese saying goes: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.

Is SEO good to learn?

Businesses have different marketing goals, but all businesses share the desire to increase revenue – and that’s the general purpose of SEO. Optimizing your website with SEO allows you to rank at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), which drives revenue-generating traffic.

Is SEO easy to learn?

The answer is simple. Learning SEO is difficult because there is a lot of information to read about search engines and how the optimization process works, which can be overwhelming at first.