What is SEO?

Of all the different forms of online marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gets more hype than probably all other forms combined. But why? Exactly what is SEO marketing? And why should you care?

Well, we’re here to tell you that whether or not you spend your marketing dollars on SEO, PPC, or standard online advertising (banners, etc.), SEO is here to stay. As long as people find websites using search engines, there will be people who optimize them.

And although SEO is no longer “new,” we’re still at a stage where many businesses are reluctant to use Google’s massive reach to grow their business. Given how important SEO has become, we see that as an opportunity.

What is SEO?

We’ll get to all the pretty charts and graphs soon (I promise), but let’s first start with a basic definition of SEO. There are a ton of “official” definitions out there, but the best and most accurate one is from Wikipedia:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

In other words, SEO is the practice of ranking a webpage higher in the search engines. (Professionals who practice SEO are also called SEOs–Search Engine Optimizers.) How is this done?

A common misconception is that Google employees somehow decide which sites should be ranked at the top of their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). In order to do this, Google would probably need to employ every person living on the planet to work 24 hours a day, and even then it would be an impossible task.

The reason is because there are literally an infinite number of possible searches that anyone can make at any given time, and Google has to display over 1,000,000 results in order of importance in less than half a second:

Google Search

On top of that, as the world changes so must Google, so every single day these results must be updated and re-ordered. Long story short: there needs to be a way to automate the process.

So as a solution Google has two main tools in its arsenal: an army of “spiders” and a very long algorithm.

If you want to know what SEO is, it’s crucial that you understand these two concepts. A search engine spider is basically just a robot that uses links to “crawl” from page to page. With enough spiders (and Google has tons), search engines are able to draw a map of the entire World Wide Web. These spiders record every word written on every page they crawl.

Google AlgorithmGoogle’s search engine algorithm is probably the most prized formula on the face of the planet. Even Coca-Cola’s secret recipe isn’t as closely guarded as Google’s algorithm. But what is it?

The brilliant whiz kids over at Google have come up with an extremely complicated formula that mathematically calculates how high a web page should rank for any given keyword. What the algorithm does is take into account a host of different factors, such as:

  • The number of links to a page (recorded by the spiders)
  • The quality of those links (calculated algorithmically)
  • The content of a website (recorded by the spiders)
  • The trustworthiness of a site (calculated algorithmically)

Google has stated that their algorithm takes into account over 200 signals in order to rank a web page. Although no SEO will ever know all 200 of these signals (let alone their relative importance), it’s our job to learn what the most important ones are and focus in on those off-page and on page SEO factors when optimizing a website.

So, in a nutshell, what is SEO? Good SEO marketing, at least, involves studying the SEO landscape, performing research on and discovering the most important rankings factors, and finally optimizing a website based on those factors. There are white hat SEO methods as well as black hat SEO methods, but in the end, they all count as SEO.

Do you need SEO?

Well, consider these stats:

According to Internet Retailer, more people are spending money online than ever before, and all the major trends look something like this:

E-Commerce Spending

This isn’t just in the United States, either. Online spending is increasing at a rapid rate all around the world. In fact, global e-commerce is rising at a rate twice as fast as in the U.S.:

Global E-Commerce Spending

And to top off the increasing demand for online goods and services, more people turn to search engines than any other source when they’re looking to make online shopping decisions:

Search Engine Influence

You don’t have to be a marketing guru to see where all this is headed. People are turning to the internet when they want to spend money, and search engines are only getting stronger.

So, do you need SEO? That depends. If you run a philosophy blog and you could care less how many people read it, then SEO is probably not the best use of your resources. If you’re indifferent to the number of visitors you get each day, spend your money somewhere else because SEO isn’t what you’re looking for and is frankly a waste of your money.

But if your website offers any kind of product of service, especially if you plan to make a living from these products or services, SEO is irreplaceable and a necessity. The fact of the matter is that 95% of your audience will use search engines to find websites like yours. The only question is whether you’ll be the first result that comes up, or whether you’ll be buried underneath all your competitors. But rest assured: people are searching.


This is what it really comes down to:

  • Designer handbags gets 200 searches per day
  • Engagement rings gets 1500 searches per day
  • Vans shoes gets 370 searches per day
  • Personal injury lawyer gets 40 searches per day
  • New York hotels gets 165 searches per day

If you had an extra 370 people walk through your doors every day, how would this affect your sales? Imagine being a personal injury lawyer in New York and having an extra 40 leads per day. And that’s just for one keyword. Even our most basic SEO package includes five keywords.

Depending on your industry, the difference between a #1 Google ranking and a #10 Google ranking can be worth millions. And right now, no matter what your industry, someone is perched up at #1. Why isn’t that you?

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