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What is SEO or Search Engine Optimization? What is SEO or Search Engine Optimization?
March 28, 2016 Jason Khoo

What is SEO? Explained in Laymen Terms

Search Engine Optimization in the last five years has catapulted to the very core of any online marketing campaign. What once was a new fad has quickly become a non negotiable, vital pillar of any successful business that wants to survive in the 21st century.

This hyper speed growth has produced a wide gap between those who know SEO and those who don’t. If your like most people, Search Engine Optimization is a mammath of a term. Knowing what it means is a whole other story that quite understandably is sometimes not worth it for many business people. Today I’ll go through Search Engine Optimization, most often represented as SEO, what you need to know and best practices.

What Is SEO? (In layman’s terms)

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the strategy of improving positioning on search engines. Search engines are comprised of Bing, Google and others. 90% of search traffic comes from Google so most professionals just focus on Google.

How Is Rank Even Determined?

Rank is dictated by the search engine you are using. (For the rest of this piece I’m going to default my conversation with Google.) The method of ranking is not published by Google or any search engine. Most of our knowledge of ranking comes from trial and error from those in the SEO and marketing industry. However, every time Google updates their search algorithm (Algoithm meaning the formula they use decide what results matches the search terms you inputted) they will announce what they have begun to put more emphasis in.

Let’s Stop Here…

I don’t want to move too fast because it is really easy to get lost. Here is where I like to use an analogy that often makes more tangible sense.

Think of SEO like a LibraryLittleLibrary

Let’s imagine you are a library curator. You have thousands, maybe even millions of books in inventory. What you need to make sure is that the patrons of your library get the books they want.

Let’s think about it. Essentially everyone who comes into the library has a certain book they are looking for. Some have a specific title and that is easy. We just have to find the exact title of the book that matches the one they are telling you. No biggie.

How do we find the right book for someone that asks you “How do I make a good tasting hamburger?”

Now what about those individuals who come in to learn how to cook. Someone comes up to the desk and asks for a book that will teach them how to prepare a hamburger. Well now we have a not so easy problem to fix. Thousands and thousands of books have been published about hamburgers, how do we decide the right book to find them? We could randomly pick a book that has the word hamburger in the title. But it is obvious to you and me, probably not a smart idea. What do we do hear then?

Well think about it. When you are telling a family friend or relative where to eat or what to do in your hometown, you will most likely pick something that is popular and of high quality. As a library you should do the same! Pick the book that has received the most reviews, references from other books, highest rate of check outs, of course of the most relevance.

“How do you personally recommend a book or restaurant to a friend? By its popularity, quality, and relevance to what that person is looking for!”

Let’s convert this back to SEO terms now. Most Reviews? Sounds like a lot like Yelp and Google reviews. References from other books? These are hyperlinks. Highest rate of check outs? How many other users and visitors accessed your site. Most relevance? Does the content or website address what the person is looking for.

Let’s start wrapping this up

So really Google and search engines are nothing more than an electronic library. You go to find information, the search engine helps you find it. This is the essence of Search Engine Optimization. Is your website or web page providing the information that people are looking for?

The more people who go to you for information, the more people refer/link to you, and the more positive things people say the higher Google will place you.

If you’d like to keep moving forward on understanding the topic, I have a post on the 1st five steps you should take on doing SEO


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Jason Khoo

Jason is a graduate from California State University Fullerton's Mihaylo Marketing program. Starting his career in marketing consultancy as a sophomore, Jason went door to door asking businesses to give him a chance. From then on, Jason has been helping businesses understanding the vast bevy of marketing and online tools to help accomplish business goals on behalf of his clients. Jason writes at Ron Wave Design, his personal site and at medium (@jasonjkhoo).
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