The Complete, Absolute, Know-Nothing Beginners’ Guide to SEO, Part 1


Since first hearing the term I’ve had a vague idea of what search engine optimization (SEO) meant. But after several days’ worth of research, I feel like I somehow know less but understand more. So rather than try to explain SEO with any sort of wit or depth, I’m going to answer some very basic questions to provide you with the necessary foundation for understanding SEO.

How do Search Engines Work? At their core, search engines are pretty simple: you type keywords into a search box and it returns websites with matching keywords. But how does it do that? An unfathomably large army of virtual robots called “crawlers” are the wizards behind the curtain. These little guys scan web pages for the relevant keywords, rank them based on popularity and give you the results. The trouble is that there’s a lot crawlers can’t see – and therefore can’t index.

How do Crawlers Work? The crawlers scan a webpage’s text for words that match your search and go a step further by scanning all the documents to which that page links. They then scan those pages’ texts and anything those pages link to. They do the same thing again and again, on and on…and that’s how search results get made. But crawlers can only understand text and can only find content that has links. Pictures, videos, and rich media (Adobe Flash Player, JavaScript, etc.) that don’t have any attached words are invisible to them as are sites that are not linked with any other pages.

What is SEO? SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of making every one of your web pages more visible and easier for crawlers to find. There are many aspects to SEO – keywords, title tags, meta tags, and much more – but targeting any of these too heavily in an attempt to manipulate search results can lead to your site being red flagged, which can lead to an immediate loss of rank or even an outright ban. It takes understanding to do SEO right.

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In the writing business, this is what they call a “hook.” So stay tuned for the next exciting installment of The Complete, Absolute, Know-Nothing Beginners’ Guide to SEO!

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