"What IS SEO?"

I was in a meeting a little while back, and a client asked: ”What is SEO?” I was taken back for a second because I had (mistakenly) assumed that in this day and age, as important as it is, everyone knew what it was. The problem with subject matter experts is that sometimes we are so close to the subject for so long, we forget that normal people may not be as familiar as we are. It’s a good reality check for a company that prides itself in not talking “geek-speak” to its clients.

What is SEO? A Definition

SEO (S.E.O.) stands for: Search Engine Optimization. Essentially, fine-tuning a web page for a specific keyword phrase for a particular search engine, such as Google. When a search engine, such as Google, ranks your WEB PAGE for relevance, it analyzes a wide variety of different factors when giving your page a position on the S.E.R.P. (Search Engine Ranking Page – the page that appears when you type in a search word in Google). When someone searches for a particular "keyword phrase" (i.e. "best steel widgets"), Google supplies a S.E.R.P. page of results and the searcher then has to chose one or more links to pages. Searchers rarely look past the first or second page.

What Factors Are Used in SEO?

Too many to list here. And… Google and other search engines change them all the time. Why? Because that’s how they make money. Google has made billions of dollars selling Pay-Per-Click advertising. If people like you or I figured out all of the factors they use in ranking web pages, no one would need to buy PPC ads. So to keep you and I from getting a good handle on their algorithm, they change it quite often to keep people bidding higher to stay at the top of the results. A few factors that search engines take into account are: the number of keywords compared to the amount of text on a page (keyword density), the keyword phrase positions, keywords in ALT tags in images, security, mobile-friendliness, headings, bolding, links, titles, domain backlinks, page speed, and dozens and dozens of other factors.

Buyer Beware

Beware of anyone that guarantees top rankings. Oh. It’s possible, depending on how niche your industry is and what keywords you are aiming to rank for, but getting the top rankings with just search engine optimization for a specific keyword is very difficult. Getting top rankings with Pay-Per-Click advertising is very doable since that mostly requires out-bidding the competition. Throw enough money at the problem, and it gets solved. But SEO is like fine-tuning a race car. You tune your page for a specific keyword phrase, submit it to a search engine (get on the track), and then pray it does well in the race. Keeping in mind that it’s in the best interest of the track (the search engines) that you crash and burn because they want you to pay for a successful run. The trick is to get an expert mechanic. No one knows ALL of the search engine’s requirements because they change them all the time, but just like you are experienced in your business, a good SEO specialist knows a great deal about getting you good rankings.

When Good Ideas Go Bad

Why is it when you try to do your own search engine optimization, instead of getting better rankings on the search engine results pages, you actually go down in rankings? Maybe you end up on page four or five or disappear altogether. (FYI: If you are not on the first or second page, your ranking is worthless. People rarely go three pages deep in search results.) One of the reasons you went down in rankings could be: you tried too hard. Search engine algorithms (programs) are built smart enough to recognize and penalize, obvious attempts at Search Engine Optimization. For example, “keyword stuffing,” or jamming too many of the same keyword phrase into your page, will trip their alarms and they will penalize you for it by reducing your rankings. This is just one of a hundred “black hat” (bad) tricks the algorithms are programmed to find and punish you for. The best policy for web page content is to have valuable, relevant text that matches the keyword you are trying to rank for. The search engines want to provide their searchers for content that is relevant to the search word. If they don’t, the searcher will merely use a different search engine.

Wasting Time with SEO

SEO can assist in building traffic to your site, but that is just one side of the equation. The page the search engine sends people to (the “landing page”) has to be designed in such a way that the increased traffic is nearly compelled to do what you want them to do: buy online, call you, etc. If you don’t have a well-designed landing page, you wasted your time and money optimizing it for traffic.

Go Pro with SEO

Just like you are an expert in your industry, you need an expert in the Search Engine Optimization field.

Contact us, and at no charge, we will take an hour and discuss with you ways we may be able to help you get better rankings with the search engines, which in turn sends more traffic to your website and enables you to generate more profit.


Paul Metheney, president of Metheney Consulting, LLC, an SEO, web design, digital marketing, online, advertising agency
Contact Metheney Consulting on web site design, developing your online marketing, social media marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (Pay-Per-Click advertising), email campaigns, pay-per-click advertising strategies, web site maintenance and development, blog development, and traditional marketing consulting on a project-by-project basis or Our Marketing Group about how they can assist you monthly as a part-time marketing department, SEO specialist, PPC experts, and web designers without the full time cost. Our Marketing Group provides digital marketing services for a fraction of the cost via monthly retainers and sliding scale hourly contracts. Call or email us at

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