What is SEO?
Updated: Feb 23
What Does SEO Stand For?
“Hey, IAM and then LET. I have so much PTO I’ll probably be OOO for the week. But it’s nearly EOM, and I have serious work to do by COB EOD. I guess I’ll need to WFH to finish. Some of it is NWR, FWIW, NSFW. Anyways, TTYL and be SMART.”
If you need code to decipher these acronyms-gone-wild, click here. If you don’t, you probably work in a corporate office.
It’s worse than this, too. It seems the bigger the company, the more proprietary the acronyms become. And sometimes they belong to one tribe of the company (I’m looking at you, marketing department). Language creates culture, so they say, and we have found a way to shorten even the most mundane of phrases. My 12 year old can short hand a text message like a court recorder on speed. But if you, like me, find yourself slowed down by whatever the heck “I’m OTP with the POC, so TYT” means, acronyms used like this create a culture of high blood pressure and unnecessary anxiety.
So let’s talk about SEO. Search Engine Optimization. There I said it. Now let’s break it down to newbie speak.
Search Engines (like Google, Yahoo or Bing) have become THEE broadest, most used tools for the information age. When I was a kid, we had Encyclopedia Brittanica. You want to find out something important, grab a book. Look it up. Chances are, you’ll find some of what you are looking for now and then… Today, Brittanica is just one of thousands of results you’ll find in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). Information is readily handy for anyone who has a thirst for knowledge.
But Search Engines - as powerful and broad as they are - are not always as nuanced as we’d think. An estimated 88% of searches happen on Google. And an estimated 75% of searchers never move on to page 2. This means that most people find what they are looking for - or something close enough - on page one. Which means that the Big Tech search giants are doing their job quite handily these days. That wasn’t always the case, but they are all fixing and tweaking for better ways to make search smarter. And they are getting better all the time. Literally, daily. So, because you like to find things online, Google works overtime to not only read the words your looking for, but analyze your semantics - checking search factors against synonyms, related keywords and intent against the best, strongest and most authoritative websites out there that are a match. As searchers, we take this for granted - but when you type the name of a song into Google, the SERPs will come back with video, ways to stream or purchase that song. You’ll likely find the lyrics and information about the artist as well. Google does search well.
So then, SEO (which can refer to both the actual optimized website or the marketer whose job it is to do the optimizer) has to also understand what searchers and Google are looking for, and make sure that the information is readily available to be crawled and indexed and ready to be seen.
If you own a gadget store, and you sell said gadgets online, you have some serious competition. For every gadget you sell, niletheotherriver.com sells 400. Why? Because they have a highly optimized product page that searchers readily find one page one of the SERPs. Does that mean you should throw in the towel? Of course not, but SEO is big work with lots moving parts and very few promises to give you warm fuzzies. Small business owners ask all the time, why is SEO so important? The answer is simple. If no one knows you’re there, you’re not going to grow your business. Now, a good marketing plan encompasses more than just Search Engine Optimization. But if you are holding out because it’s too expensive, or because you have had a bad experience (unfortunately a common story), you are not just leaving money on the table, but you’re actually taking steps backward. Because that competition - they are certainly working with an SEO to grow their business.
SEO for Small Business is a must in our day. Googles mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. The goal of a good SEO is to take your content and make it just as accessible to Google and the rest, so that your pages can be found by the good people who are just waiting to be your customers.