What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Really?

What is SEO?

When consumers use a search engine like Yahoo, Bing, or Google to find the answer to a question, a solution to a problem, or a product or service to fill a need, as a business owner, you'd like them to find you first. You can do that with SEO.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of getting your content discovered by people looking for it. More specifically, it is the the practice of making your Internet-based content (websites, mostly) more accessible, more easily discovered, by people (consumers, web surfers, etc.) searching on the Internet's search engines.

I intentionally referred to this topic as an art. To be sure there is some science here, but there's a good deal of gray area. Moreover, it is a moving target! The target is moving for a couple of key reasons (and countless minor ones):

  • The World Wide Web, and other Internet-attached content, is made up of billions of pages of information, and each day it is growing. Making your website discoverable is like putting a small mark at the end of a branch of a young tree, and coming back each spring to find that same branch. Surely it has moved a bit, many leaves have fallen off, and many more leaves have regrown. Finding the site isn't as simple as it once was.
  • Secondly, the rules of the game are continually changing. Search Engines like Google change their search algorithms (the code, or set of rules, used for matching results to an individual's search criteria) constantly. They have new code releases every 3-6 months, and make numerous tweaks in between the major releases.

So how do we ensure success when we want consumers, future clients and customers, to find us on the Web?

Content is King for Search Engine Optimization

Notice, first of all, that I keep repeating the word content. Sure, I could buy a thesaurus (that would be a silly thing for a Geek to do, they're standard on every computer!), but then we might miss the point - the more content you have on your website, the more content you have to be discovered. We can be scientific on this point, the more content you have on your website, the more traffic you get.

The more content you have on your website, the more leads you receive.

It isn't quite as simple as writing a bunch of articles or blog posts, although that would be a good start. The search engine's job is to match web surfers with the content they really and truly are searching for. You don't simply want to write content to get in front of them, but if you have something they're looking for, you certainly want them to find that out. That comes from creating relevant content to put in front of them, and giving them the tools to connect with you (such as: calls to action, contact information, signup opportunities.)

Search engines reward fresh content. And we've seen that they reward lots of it. They reward sites that are shared by other sites, and by other consumers on social media. They reward unique and quality content.

Backlinks Kill SEO Productivity

Search engines often penalize purchased backlinks. Backlinks are links from other website on the Internet that lead back to your site, and have long been a mechanism for increasing your search engine ranking. This isn't because your site offers more value to web surfers, but simply because someone "ran" around and added links everywhere.

The search engines of the world wised up and said "we don't want to reward this behavior, it doesn't serve our end customer", and in many cases they are now able to downgrade the "offending" site.

If you want your website to show up on searches, the bottom line is: don't blacklist yourself. Don't buy backlinks.

The bottom line?

SEO is fueled by relevancy of content, and activity on the scene. If you continue to openly market yourself as a helpful and reliable source, activity has been shown to generate, and search engines will pick up on that fact.

Need help getting started? Unsure how to begin a blog, or market yourself as a valuable resource? Send up an e-mail or give us a call and we'll help.

Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).