SEO: The What + Why Behind Search Engine Optimization

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As a part of our new series 5 Essential Elements of a Successful Web Strategy, we’re going to look at SEO to get a handle on some of the best ways to attract visitors to your website.

We sat down with Tim “Church” Jennings, the head of SEO at Soulheart, to learn some more about the work he does is and why it’s important.

What do you like about working on SEO?

When I first heard about SEO, I got really excited because it ignites my competitive streak. I’m a former MMA fighter – my figher name was “church” – and I thrive on the creative thinking process of figuring out how to be the best. SEO is all about competition because you have to outrank other websites that want to get hits for similar content and the fact that the rules of the game are frequently changing and new competitors are often emerging means that every day is different and always a challenge.

I also like puzzles — not the gigantic ones with 1,000 pieces, but the ones that require you to sit and think hard for a while. Essentially, Google is providing a service that’s really useful to everyone, and it’s my job as an SEO guy to solve the puzzle of figuring how to make sure that quality content ranks high when people search for it.

What’s SEO mean, and what does it do?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. There are lots of different search engines, like Bing and Yahoo, but over 75% of internet searching happens at Google. When we optimize a website for a search engine, that means that we are implementing a specific technique so that your website is one of the first that appear when people are searching for the services, products, or information that you provide. Here’s the main idea:

The goal of all search engines is to help people find what they are searching for.

The goal of your website is to show that it has what they’re searching for.

SEO is what happens between the two.

So, for example, if you’re an Arizona fishing company aiming to sell fly fishing rods, you’ve got to use SEO to let the search engine know that you offer the best content about fly fishing rods out there. Then you’ll get yourself on the first page of the search results.

How does it work?

It’s all in the algorithms. Google crawls – essentially, reads – your website for content and then indexes it. The index reveals how your website should rank compared to others when people search for something. If someone Googles “fly fishing rods,” you might rank on the third page. If someone googles “Fly fishing rods in Arizona,” then you might rank on the first because the index will reveal that you’re a stronger match than more general websites that talk about fly fishing but don’t have a focus on Arizona.

SEO works by giving the most accurate and specific input to the Google algorithm that will, in turn, give you the higher rankings that you need.

SEO starts with content. You have to have great content and provide a great product for it to matter in the first place that you’re ranking high (being one of the first results) on Google. But it’s possible to have great content and products and not rank high — and that’s where SEO comes in.

Thanks, Tim, for sitting down and talking to us about your work! Next week, we’re going to start looking at the basics of getting started with SEO with an overview of keywords and content.

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Picture of Olivia Davis

Olivia Davis

A writer based in Mississippi, Olivia is passionate about using language to communicate complex ideas with clarity. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, drawing, and eating copious amounts of Greek food.
Picture of Olivia Davis
Post by

Olivia Davis

A writer based in Mississippi, Olivia is passionate about using language to communicate complex ideas with clarity. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, drawing, and eating copious amounts of Greek food.

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