“What DOES SEO Stand For?” A Quick Guide for the Average Business Owner

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“What DOES SEO Stand For?”

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” In plain terms, it is a series of activities that helps your website become the one that potential clients find when they search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

Some of the activities that comprise SEO include:

  • Technical SEO – ensuring that your site loads properly, while making sure search engines can easily and efficiently crawl your site
  • Keyword research – research to identify relevant terms and topics that people search ford
  • Content creation – creating blog posts, videos, or other media that provide maximum value to potential customers as they search the web
  • On-Page SEO – structuring content in a way that features the keywords that you identified during your keyword research
  • Linkbuilding – reaching out to other websites that would be interested in sharing the blogs and media that you’ve produced

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What is Technical SEO?

As one may imagine, technical SEO is the most technical step of the SEO process, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s difficult. Technical SEO encompasses making sure that the site offers the best user experience while being easily navigable by search engine crawlers such as Googlebot.


It usually begins by creating a sitemap and submitting it to Google through Google Search Console (GSC).  Bruce Clay has a pretty comprehensive guide to setting up your Google Search Console here.  Check it out and get it set up today.

Page Speed

Google has stated that while page speed does not increase your likelihood of ranking, it does demote sites that load slowly.

It tracks the page load time for websites using Chrome, and studies have shown that page load time does affect user interaction with your site. A slowly loading site will be marked as slow by Google and probably have bad user signals, so get your site up to speed.

There are tools like Google PageSpeed Insights that will give you some tips to speed up your site.  You will usually find suggestions to minify your CSS, JS, and html, optimize a number of images on site, and set expiry headers for your browser caching (I wrote a post that walks you through that process here)

Proper Indexing

There are some highly technical aspects of technical SEO that you want to leave to a pro. Decisions about whether you should allow Google to index your images, or whether to set a rel canonical for a post that is on a similar topic to another can only be made based on experience. It’s worth hiring an experienced SEO for this.

Keyword Research

In 2004, keyword research was “do people look for ‘divorce lawyers’ or ‘divorce attorneys?'”

In 2018, keyword research is doing research that results in you finding out that there are no thorough blog posts covering “how to obtain sole custody of your child in the state of Arkansas.”

By identifying this topic and keywords related to it, you’ll be able to easily get your website out in front of potential family law clients that are searching on the web.

In the case of a person needing a “divorce lawyer,” he is not using the terms “divorce” or “lawyer;” he is searching for a topic that indicates that he needs the services of a family law attorney.  He may search for “do you have to pay alimony if your wife cheated on you?” Since few other website will have created content optimized for this topic, you should be able to rank fairly easily for it.

Content Creation

Let’s say that in the keyword research phase you identified the keyword “how to remove paint from brick.”

You are a local painter that is able to answer this questions quite well, so you write a thorough guide to removing old paint from brick.

You are ready to publish the blog, but decide to find a few relevant keywords that you may not have touched upon.  Using a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs, you enter the term “remove paint from brick” only to realize that there is different kinds of brick that require different techniques.

You put off publishing the blog so that you can write sections that outline the process for removing it from smooth vs. enameled vs. rough textured brick.

Once you publish the post, you’ll be able to help people that have questions about removing paint from each of the types of brick that you identified in the post.  Eventually, you start getting a few dozen visitors from all over the world every week, sending positive user signals that tell Google that there’s something good on your site and it should consider you a “trustworthy resource.”

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO encompasses two things: identifying the right topics to write about and marking up the page in a way that will drive user engagement while making it easy for Googlebot to crawl your page.

What are Title Tags and Metadescriptions?

You want to make sure that you set the title tags and meta descriptions for your site. Many SEOs have indicated that this less important that it was in previous years, and I happen to agree with them, but it doesn’t take long and it is worth doing.

This is a title tag:

example of title tag

This is a metadescription

You’ll have some control over the text that Google displays on the search engine results page (often abbreviated as the “SERP”), but it’s important to note that Google often dynamically generates metadescriptions based on the user query.  You won’t have 100% control over what shows up on the SERP.

It’s worth noting that many SEOs believe it to be important to include the keywords that you want to rank for in your title tags. While this was certainly crucial 10 or 15 years ago, things have changed. Back then, the search engine wasn’t as effective at understanding what a page was about.

Today, Google’s machine learning is pretty darn good at it. I’ve seen plenty of examples of websites that rank without ever even setting these tags.


Linkbuilding is the process of getting other sites to link to your content.

Ideally, you’ve written some great post that really covers a topic thoroughly and in a way that hasn’t already been done. If you have written the ultimate guide to cooking plantains that blows every other guide out of the water, you’re in business.

The process involves sending emails, tweets, sharing the content on social media.  It can be extremely tedious and unsuccessful when done wrong.

Link outreach is best when done carefully.  You should cultivate relationships with others in your industry and try to create a reputation for your blog. It’s a lot easier to get a site to link to you if they know who you are. If you’re just some random guy or girl asking for a link, it’s going to be a lot tougher.


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