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Mastering the Basic Principles of SEO

Table of Contents

Answer the question: Does Google Love Me?

Life is about relationships: family relationships, business relationships, and more and more often, your business’s relationship with Google. If that sentence makes sense to you, then it’s likely you’re at least thinking about the basic principles of SEO.

If not, find your favorite beverage and take a seat. The answer to the question “Does Google Love Me?” could make or break your business, and hopefully, the next few minutes with this article will get you pumped to answer the question or change your thinking on the topic from neutral to something more serious.

Big Picture: in today’s economy, where competition is fierce and attention spans are fleeting, getting your website to rank at the top of Google’s search results can make or break your business’s online presence.

An entire profession has sprung up in response to meeting these challenges: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), where understanding the rules of the search engine game can mean the difference between obscurity and online success.

This article will outline what you need to know about SEO as a business leader in today’s market.

From Stone Tablets to Algorithms: The Search Engine Story

Our journey begins with a brief history lesson

  • The internet sucked because you couldn’t find helpful resources in a jungle of trash.
  • Google solved this problem by creating a system that ranked web pages.
  • Spammers gamed the system.
  • Google got better to beat the spammers.
  • Spammers game the system.
  • (repeat until today)

The war continues- but with Google’s algorithms and various AIs that are good at fighting the spammers. So much so that its dominance allows it to set “standards” for the rest of the web; this works well for most parties involved because Google gets 8.5 Billion queries a day, and It’s worth it as a business to improve our site’s quality enough to rank higher with Google.

It’s like putting an extra coat of floor wax and setting out the good candy for the new showroom. The more Google likes us, the more opportunities we get to convert their search customers into our customers. It’s a pretty good deal when you think about it.

The Role of Basic Principles of SEO in Modern Business

There are a lot of pathways to customers nowadays, from referrals and direct marketing to email and social media marketing. Some are paid (you write a check); some are unpaid (you trade time and resources, basically cash flow deferrals when you think about it).

As a business leader, you’re responsible for determining which combination works best for your prospects and customers. Suppose you’re wondering what the opportunity for a search engine optimization channel looks like for your business.

In that case, I’ll tell you flatly: a significant amount of work goes into identifying, testing, and deciding if search is a good channel for you. Do the work, but here’s the scale of the opportunity:

link to chart for Oberlo


basic principles of seo google usage stages

SEO isn’t just a buzzword. It’s the art and science of making your website visible to the right people at the right time. It complements your overall marketing strategy, driving organic traffic and revenue.

Importance of Keyword Research

(Source: Google)

At its simplest, Google is a matching algorithm. It matches the words you enter in the input box (keywords) with a ‘zero-click’ answer (more than 26% of the time) or a web page that matches that user’s intent. It also ranks the responses to provide the best search results.

Keywords are the root of this process. They guide your content, helping you reach the audience you desire. Effective keyword research can uncover valuable opportunities you might have missed. A lot of SEO is about creating or optimizing your website and content to be visible to Google while also being helpful to visitors (search matches).

On-Page SEO Optimization

You hear the phrase content is king a lot. When it’s related to SEO, it’s mostly about developing great content for your audiences and potential audiences and making them visible to Google’s index (database of helpful web pages). Unfortunately, that’s not enough.

Even if you created the best 2500-word article on apples that matches the intent of people interested in learning about apples, it won’t get seen by Google’s algorithm without help. This help is usually in the form of On-Page optimization, the technical steps required to make a document visible to Google. On-page SEO includes but isn’t limited to:

  • The proper page hierarchy
  • Having a good meta description.
  • Helpful page and section titles,
  • The right keywords, etc.

A lot goes into optimizing a page or website, but the reward if you do everything right is the inclusion in Google’s index. On-page optimization doesn’t get you to the top of the list, but it does get you on the list, and that’s a good start.

Technical SEO

Google takes its customers’ experience very seriously. This fact gets lost a lot in discussions about SEO. We often forget what we are working for to create content and a user experience good enough to be deemed more valuable and helpful to its users than others.

This user experience encompasses many things: how quickly the page loads, whether it looks good on mobile, whether users can find what they are looking for on your site (or if they bounce back to another page), etc.

This part of the SEO work is pretty technical: compressing images, measuring how quickly pages load, determining if it’s better to put data on different sites (CDNs) versus on your website, etc. This is less the art and more the science part of the profession, which is usually the domain of technical teams and partners.

Backlink Building

So, you may have been wondering how Google ranks pages. That’s easy. It has a page rank algorithm. Well, it has that and many other algorithms designed to measure how valuable a page might be to a specific search intent.

The most significant known factor (Google treats these algorithms as trade secrets and only shares what they want the public to know) is backlinks. Backlinks are other websites that link to your website. The logic behind backlinks is pretty straightforward.

If someone finds your page useful in some way, they may link to it; if they have a good reputation on the web, that link counts for more than someone with a bad reputation.

For example, a backlink from the Washington Post is way more valuable than a link from an unknown blogger. It’s a fair deal. A lot of work can go into creating shareable content and convincing notable sites that your content is worthy of linking to. There is often a sales process that is not different from selling a product or service.

Google doesn’t like links that aren’t natural and spends much time looking for unnatural or harmful backlinks. The consequences of trying to game the link system can range from a timeout to being kicked out of the index.

Local SEO

(Source: Think With Google)

It’s important to know that Google manages two massive indexes: one for desktops and one for mobile devices. The mobile index is designed with the idea that the searches you do on your phone may have a different intent.

For instance, if you search for pizza at home on your desktop, your intent could range from recipes to videos about pizza, so the intent may be a little more complicated.

If you search for pizza from your phone, it will likely give you nearby searches because you will probably want to pick up a pizza or have it delivered if you search for it on your phone.

These differences in mobile vs. desktop searches must be addressed from an SEO perspective. At a high level, you may want to be visible on the desktop around your expertise and case studies; on the mobile, you may focus on the services you provide as they relate to your service or delivery area.

The Big Picture is that you will likely have different strategies based on your business objectives relative to each index’s focus.

Measuring and Analyzing SEO Success

The great thing about SEO is that it’s measurable. You can determine how often a keyword is searched a month and how often your company or competitor comes up. There’s plenty of data available in SEO software platforms to inform your decisions, and you don’t have to guess or feel around in the dark.

It’s also an ongoing journey. There’s no natural stopping point for SEO because what works for your customers can change, but how your competitors engage with SEO impacts your results over time. Companies are competing for their customers attention on every sales channel, SEO is no different.


SEO isn’t a magic potion; it’s a combination of science and art. However, understanding the SEO landscape can help you make better decisions on engaging with your team or partners relative to this channel.

Remember that SEO is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. Keep refining your strategy, stay updated with industry trends, and watch as Google falls in love with your website.

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