SEO, What It Is, How It Works

What is SEO?

Let me shock you right now, there are a lot of websites, blogs, and junk on the world wide web. Anybody can put whatever they want on the web but most of the stuff on the internet is not that great. So there has to be a system of organizing and relating everything on the web. This is what search engines like Google and Yahoo! do for us. They look at every page that they can access and decide what it is about, what it connects to, and then ranks them based on different criteria. The exact criteria and how important each one is differs from search engine to search engine, but there are many that are universal.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of refining a website or blog so that search engines rank it higher on their lists for specific keywords. For example if you sell widgets you would want to be the #1 results for “buy a widget” search term. There are many aspects of a website that can be optimized in order for a search engine to rate your website higher.


How SEO Helps.

Think about the last time you were on Google or any other search engine, how often did you go past the first page of results? Probably not very often, if ever. The first page of search results is a gold mine and the first five spots on the page are the gold.  The first page of search results on Google takes up 95% of all traffic for a specific search term. The third page of Google search results barely gets 1% of the traffic.

Given the great disparity of traffic received it can be easy to see how important it is to rank at least on the first page of Google for a search term. However just as we mentioned above there are a lot of people with a lot of websites out there that are trying to get to that prestigious first page. Some of the companies that you are competing may have far more resources than you to develop their websites, but don’t despair, you can still be on the first page.

How SEO Can Work For You

Unless you run a huge company SEO can be a bit tricky. The problem is that search engines take a lot of different factors into consideration. For example Google analyzes everything from HTML, CSS, content, images, videos, and links. The combination of technical and creative capabilities can be a bit much for one or even several people. There are however a number of things that anyone can do to improve their ranking without years of study.


  • Choose your keywords. Below is a list of several tools that will help with SEO. One of them is Google AdWords which allows you to look at how frequently certain search terms are used. It will also show other terms that are similar to one another. From there pick your keywords to include in your content. It is optimal that specific keywords are about 2-3% of your written content. Keep in mind that the more searches there are for a term the more competition there is for those keywords. Sometimes it is better to try for less popular keywords.
  • Learn to code or hire a web developer. Google and other engines will penalize websites that are poorly coded and have issues. Web developers may not be cheap but they are worth it in the long term.
  • Use longer keyword phrases. Two word phrases are incredibly competitive.
  • Bulletize, italicize, or bold your keywords.
  • When posting images or videos don’t give them names such as 12f1234.jpg. Instead use a descriptive tag so Google can understand what it is.
  • Share your website or blog on Google +.
  • Unless required, don’t use high resolution images that slow down load times.
  • Get other websites to link to your content. The easiest way to do this is to create great content.
  • Use Google Analytics or other analytical tool to find weak spots on your website. Improve on those points.
  • CREATE GREAT CONTENT. Really, this is probably the most important point.


Tools For SEO

There are a number of tools that you can use in the quest for SEO. There are many others out there but this is a basic list that will help you out.

Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a great free tool for analyzing traffic coming to your website and identifying any issues.

Google AdWords – One of the most popular tools to find keywords and keyword ideas. Google also provides great support and How To’s if any part of AdWords confusses you.

Google Webmaster – Google Webmaster tools will allow you to optimize your websites coding and links. It will point out what Google may be penalizing or what coding issues the website has so that you can correct them.

Open Site Explorer– A tool that will help you link opportunities through competitor back link research. Also a great way to snoop on your competition.

Bing Webmaster Tools – Like Google Webmaster tools but for Bing!

PageRank Status – This is a free browser extension that shows your the page rank of every website you visits. It doesn’t mean that one website is better than another, just means it is doing better.


Things To Think About

1. What are some other simple things that anyone can do for SEO?

2. Are there any other great tools for SEO?

3. What is more important great content or SEO?


The quick explanation of how to be viral

How do things go viral? It is hard to say, the internet is big (like really big) and there is are a lot of people competing for the little bit of time and attention that we all have. Almost everyone that has any presence online dreams that some of their content will go “viral”. Although this is not a bad dream some reality needs to be injected into it. Considering that we already discussed that the internet is a big place it is difficult in the least to make anything go viral, let alone be shared a couple of times.

There is no magic solution or formula for viral content. Even the meaning of viral will depend on what it is that you do online. Many people jump to the idea of virality meaning that millions of people share and watch your YouTube clip or share your article. This however is not applicable to every business or venture, you have to be realistic about the size of your audience and what it is that you are presenting. Think of virality in the terms of the people you want to reach. If you are a small business owner that paves driveways then the audience you may want to reach may be only in the few thousands.

There are overall trends that make some content more or less prone to become viral. We all know that an average piece of writing or content is not going to go viral. Sometimes things go viral because of how terrible they are but that is rarely the type of fame that people want. Keep in mind a few general rules when creating your content and something of yours just might go viral.

Know Your Audience

As mentioned above, virality is dependent on what you do. If you pave driveways in a smaller city, virality might look different than a viral campaign for Coca-Cola. Look at the number of people who may be looking for a service like yours within the city and around it. If there are 10,000 possible customers and you reach 20% of them instead of the usual 5% then high-fives are due all around. Consider your content viral, you reached 4X more audience than usual and gained more exposure. Keep it up! If you only reached the regular 5% again, don’t despair, you reached 5% and that’s not bad.

Think about the most basic questions when creating your material. Do they know about you? Do they know about your competitors? Are you trying to contact them? Are your campaigns targeted or general? What is it that is most important to your customer? These may sound like simple questions but they are the foundation of any good piece of popular material. Think about your audience and what they want. Don’t create what you think is great, it is not about you. Think about what your customer would like to see.

Be Different

old-spice-commercial-adBe different. Try something other than what is the norm, stand out from your competition. After all if you do the same thing as everyone else you can’t expect to stand out. There is no secret to being different, if you look at your product or campaign and go “I have seen that” then it is not new. Don’t get me wrong, being innovative is incredibly difficult. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every piece of content, but throw out something whacky and different sometimes, it just may take off.

Be Emotional

Unless you are in a field such as saving baby seals or nature photography it is often hard to evoke emotion. Going back to the concrete laying business example, it may be hard to evoke emotion about a well paved driveway that won’t crack. Very few people get excited about everyday things but that is a large part of creating content. According to some research such emotions as awe, anger, anxiety, fear, joy and surprise are key factors to creating viral content. One of the most appealing and common aspect of viral content is humor. To inject emotion into your content jump back to the Be Different aspect and try something different. The Dollar Shave Club was a successful viral campaign that made a mundane activity such as shaving humorous and joyful. Take example from others success and see if any elements can be infused into your content.

Keep It to the Point and Make It Long

Is this point a Catch-22? Not really. As mentioned most people today have a short attention span. We are bombarded with information from every possible angle and absorbing all of it is difficult. If you are creating a video or a visual piece of content, keep it to the point. If a person does not have a lot of time allow them to skim whatever it is that you created for the nuggets of information and let them move on. They can always come back later and admire your work in its full glory.

Make your written content longer. Long, in depth posts are usually more apt to go viral than short and to the point. If your content is not based on visuals you can expand and go in depth. After all somebody committed to reading it, they might as well get as much as they can from it. Just remember to highlight the most important points or at least make them easy to notice.


That’s right, fail. I fail, you fail, we all fail at some point. The fact is that the so called “virality guru’s” fail all the time. If making something viral does not work the 1st,2nd,34th time, don’t despair, just keep at it. Over time and with experience you and I will get there, and the reward will your own piece of internet history in the form of a nifty viral campaign.


How can anything go viral if you don’t share? Seriously, throw some Share, Like, Tweet, and other social media buttons on to your content. Otherwise how are people supposed to share with the world the greatness that you created?


Questions to Consider

  1. Are there are important aspects to viral content?
  2. Is viral content really that important or is consistent good content better?
  3. Is virality really that valuable, does it bring in more business?