What is Search Engine Optimization and How Does it Work – for 2018?

By John Eberhard

There are a couple elements to proper and effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and I think it is important to understand what they are and how they work.

First of all, the reason you do SEO is to increase the traffic you are getting to a site from organic search engine results. Organic search engine results are the regular result that you see when you search for something. It is not the paid results, and it is not the map results (on Google the map results are called “Google My Business” now).

So the goal is to increase traffic from organic search results. What type of results can you expect from doing SEO? If you follow an SEO program over a period of time, you can expect to as much as double, triple, or quadruple your site traffic. So what is an SEO program?

The Elements of SEO

Proper Search Engine Optimization consists of “on-page optimization” and “off-page optimization.”

On-page optimization consists of:

Doing keyword research to select keywords that have a good number of searches being done for them, and that have fewer number of sites competing for them

Writing titles and descriptions for each page of the site

Putting those titles and descriptions into a hidden area of each page which your site visitor doesn’t see, but which search engines see, called the meta-tags area.

On-page optimization should be redone every 2-3 years, as the traffic to various keywords and the competition for them can change dramatically in that amount of time.

Off-page optimization is the process of building up the number of links to your site. The number of links to your site from other sites is a primary factor in how well your site will rank on search engines for the various keywords you are targeting.

Over the years search engine optimization consultants have developed various methods of creating links to a web site. Then over the past 6 years or so, Google, the largest search engine with over 60% market share, has been actively attacking these various link building methods. They have made changes to their search algorithm to make various links building methods less effective. Why?

Google has insisted over and over that you should just write good content and put it on your site, and if it is really good, people will link to it. And that would create what they call a natural link pattern. But there are a few flaws in this logic:

First of all, realize that what Google tells people to do, is good for Google, not necessarily for you.

What Works Today

The list of link building activities that actually work, is constantly changing. Here are the things that I find most effective now in 2018.

  1. Press Releases: Write a press release about your company activities, then submit it to multiple free and paid press release sites. Make sure the release has a link to your website in it. I consider this the #1 method of link building today.
  2. “Stealing Links”: See who is ranking highest for your top keywords, then see what sites are linking to those competitors. Then take those links and analyze them for the ones with the highest page authority and domain authority. Then work to get links to your website from those sites. Of course it’s not really stealing anything. I consider this the #2 method of building links today.
  3. Blog Posts: Write articles that are 300 words minimum and post them to your company blog. Plus create several blogs for your company on free blogging sites, then post your blog posts there too. These same articles can be used as content for other uses such as a company email newsletter.
  4. Business Listing Sites: Each listing you create on these sites will count as a link to your site. But not all of these sites are worth a lot. Concentrate your efforts on ones that get a lot of traffic.

There are other methods but those are the main ones.

The most vital aspect of this is to develop a plan and then keep at it over a long period of time. Just doing it once or twice will not do anything effective.

And the way to measure if it is working, is by looking at web site visits, and the number of links to your site.

I have several clients that have been doing a link building program for several years, where we have doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their site traffic. And that’s worth doing.