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What is SEO?

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation or, SEO is a marketing channel that uses search engines like Google to gain you traffic and customers. Gaining traffic from search engines means creating, optimising and promoting your website’s content.

Websites that create, optimise and promote themselves in ways that search engines like are placed at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for the products, services and information they need.

The idea of SEO is simple but not easy.

  1. Write helpful content about what you do

  2. Promote it across the web

  3. Google crawls, indexes and ranks it

  4. You gain traffic and customers to your website.


The Heartbeat of SEO

Central to mastering SEO is a profound understanding of your audience and Google.

Understanding your customer is marketing 101. Delving into what they think, desire, fear, how they spend their time and money are all part. When your website can create content that resonates with these insights it becomes a magnet for customer attention and gains Google’s favour.

The problem with this approach is that it assumes that you can understand your customer without their traffic enough to rank and, that if your content is what they like then Google will recognise it. Both I’ve found are rarely the case.

In reality, the heartbeat of SEO should be the customer, their needs and wants but it’s actually in marrying that with what Google understands. If customers like you and Google doesn’t you will get no traffic but, if Google likes you and customers don’t; you get no business.


SEO For Google

SEO for Google can be broken into 3 parts; content, links and technical SEO.

Content is the most controllable and influenceable part of SEO. Anyone can produce content and put it on their site. Anyone can write blogs, design graphics in Canva or with AI and then post that on their site. Content is one-third of SEO because without it you cannot rank.

When creating content for SEO you are always seeking to do 2 things; satisfy Google’s understanding of the users’ intent for your post and, demonstrating your understanding of the topic to Google.

User intent is simply what Google thinks people want to see or read on that page. It builds this understanding over time and it can rapidly change during Google’s core updates. Before writing content for any keyword you should always be aware of what Google’s intent understanding is for that keyword (and the content that ranks for it).

Demonstrating your understanding is about flexing your knowledge on a subject. Best done by writing comprehensive explanations and breakdowns, linking to other authoritative pieces, using examples and demonstrating EEAT principles.


Links for Google

There should be no difference in links you acquire for Google or for customers theoretically. But in practice its much different. Links are another third of SEO because they demonstrate trust, relevance and authority.

Links for anyone one piece of content are votes for that content’s relevancy. Relevancy is very important to Google. Google expects your content to get links from other content of the same theme or topic.

The same way that Wikipedia works when linking internally to its own articles, Google expects the web to work for both internal and external links.

For example, a Wikipedia article on WWII would link to articles on Winston Churchill, D-Day and Fighter pilots but not Hello Kitty or The Fast and Furious movie franchise.

Links establish credibility and trust when Google sees websites with a lot of trust on a topic linking to your website. Your website gains trust on a topic when Google finds links from other trusted websites to yours. A trusted website is one that has a lot of traffic and rankings in your niche. For health that might be WebMD for business that could be Forbes and for marketing it might be Hubspot.

Authority with links comes from links from sites Google trusts more or equal to yours like those discussed above. Authority also comes from links growing in authority linking to you as a source. The more you have links from both more and less trusted sources the more authority you show to Google on a topic.


Technical SEO

Everything that doesn’t fit into links and content is technical SEO. Ranking factors like website speed, dwell time or crawlability are technical SEO.

The last third of the 3 part breakdown of SEO the technical factors are important. Technical issues can be split into their own 3 categories;


The crawlability of a site relates to how easy and how swiftly Google’s web crawlers can visit every page on your website. Google crawls millions of pages at a time and can’t afford to get bogged down on slow, hard to discover websites. Lots of things can affect crawlability.


How easily can Google read, assess and cache your website’s information? Indexable sites make it easy for Google to crawl and see all the content but also for it to load it and scrape it.


If Google can crawl your site and index it’s content for later retrieval it will then work on ranking your site. Rankability of a can relate to things like if the content is loaded using javascript or, if canonicals are used properly.


Usability isn’t originally something that Google considered in the early days of the web as websites were so basic and we could only use our computers to access it. Now with different screen sizes and resolutions, usability is important.

Usability factors are things like page speed, core web vitals and mobile responsiveness.

That’s the overview of SEO for Google and other search engines. SEO is made up of

  • Content – that should satisfy user intent as well as Google’s understanding of the topic.

  • Links – must come from sources Google already ranks well for content thematically similar to yours.

  • Technical SEO means Google can crawl, index and rank your site content and, that their systems can tell is usable by people on any device.

There is more to it but, that is a top-level summary of what SEO is, and what it’s made up of.