What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization Defined

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I hope you enjoy reading this article. 
If you want my help with your marketing, email me.

So, you’re ready to learn about SEO, huh? 

If you want to drive organic traffic to your website, SEO will inevitably be a factor.

In this article, I’ll dive into what SEO is, how it works, why it’s important, how you can learn it, what are the SEO no no’s, and what happens when you practice great search engine optimization habits.

SEO has been a major factor in me being able to grow multiple companies to 6, 7, and 8 figures over the past 10 years.

It’s a game of consistency and long term commitment so don’t think you’re getting a guide on overnight success here.

If you want to see results from SEO efforts, be prepared to put in the effort over years of growing your business.

I promise if you stick with it, it will come back to benefit you 10, 100, 1000 fold.

So, let’s dive into it.

What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization?

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SEO is search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the business practice of attracting visitors to your website through search engines like Google and Bing.

Think of your experience searching for something on Google.

If you want to learn more about the “best marketing books of all time”, you’re going to search something along those lines.

You depend on Google to then show you results that are most relevant and useful to that search that you made.

Google crawls data from millions of websites when you make that search and they find the most relevant and most useful options for you to look at and go through.

You then can go through the options, read multiple, and find the content that best fits what you were looking for.

SEO impacts all of this.

When you have good SEO, your website pages and blog articles are more likely to appear on Google and Bing when someone is searching for terms relevant to the content that you’ve created.

When you have poor SEO, it’s much harder for people to find your articles, products, and website pages because they aren’t optimized for what people are searching for on search engines.

SEO is a game of putting cues into your content that you create so that it properly communicates to the search engine what it is that the content is about.

Search Engine Optimization Examples

Say that you’re running a marketing agency and you want to attract customers to your expertise which is in social media marketing.

With good SEO, your website home page would be optimized for keywords like “social media marketing” and “facebook marketing” and “instagram marketing”, etc.

As people searched for these terms on Google and other search engines, there would be a better chance that your site would show up higher in the results and they would end up at your website.

However, if you have bad SEO, and your home page isn’t optimized for any keywords, then there’s a much smaller chance that Google is going to know that your website should be ranking for the keywords that your ideal customer’s are searching for.

There are hundreds of factors that go into Google’s algorithm, but this is just a simple example to display the power of SEO.

How does SEO Work?

As a User

As I explained above, SEO works when someone searches for something on Google or another search engine.

The search is submitted by you to Google then Google looks within its archives to find the most relevant and useful content and then the options are presented to you on Google search engine result pages (SERP’s).

You browse the options and click on the ones that seem the best option for what you searched for.

Sometimes what you click on is exactly what you were looking for and other times, you need to go back to the search engine results and find another option.

As you browse the search results and click in and out of different pages, Google records that data so that they can understand how good each page is for the search term that you entered.

For example, if Google sees that you click on the first result and then quickly click the back button and go to other results, it could indicate to them that the page wasn’t useful for you.

Similarly, if you click on a result and stay there for multiple minutes reading through the entire article, then it tells Google that you found a good result and it helped to answer your query.

Over millions and millions of searches, Google creates their own ranking of each website page and ranks them in an effort to provide searchers with the most relevant and useful search results every single time.

As a Marketer

From a marketer’s perspective, your goal is to create content and properly communicate the core concepts in the content to Google so that they know when to show it to people searching for relevant keywords and terms.

You can do this by using SEO tools when creating your website pages and blog articles so that your content accurately targets specific keywords that you want to appear on search results for.

For example, let’s say that you want to rank for the keyword “digital marketing 101 course” then when you go to create the page about that course, you need to include that keyword “digital marketing 101 course” throughout the page and you need to include other similar keywords to it, like “digital marketing course” and “marketing course” and “marketing 101 course” and “learn digital marketing”, etc.

The more relevant your content to the search term and the more in depth that the content is, the better chance that Google will recognize it for that keyword and give it a shot for searchers to look at.

Why is SEO important?

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SEO is important for business owners and entrepreneurs and marketers because it dictates how your ideal customer is able to find you using search engines, particularly Google.

Google is a worldwide tool that billions of people use every single day as they are searching for different products and knowledge that they want to obtain.

If you’re a business owner or marketer, SEO is an amazing opportunity to get in front our your ideal customer as they are searching for keywords and terms that are relevant to your business.

If you don’t take the time to appreciate and respect SEO, you can say goodbye to thousands, maybe even millions, of potential readers, customers, and visitors to your business website.

Do you want to lose out on thousands of potential customers coming to your website? (I don’t think so!)

SEO is critically important because Google is where everyone goes to find what they’re looking for.

If you’re not working to rank among the top results for your ideal customer, you’re just missing out on massive opportunities for growth.

What are SEO No No’s?

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With the power the SEO has, there are of course marketers and business owners that want to try to “hack” the system so that they get more website traffic from Google and other search engines without doing all of the hard work to create great SEO.

Here’s some of the practices to avoid:

→ Automatically generating content, i.e. using bots to create content for your website

→ Getting involved in link schemes (a dirty practice to get more links to your website that are scammy and illegitimate)

→ Copying content from somewhere else

→ Hiding text and links on your pages

I promise that if you try these, Google will sniff you out and will punish you and your website.

Think it’s hard to get traffic from Google when you’re in good standing, think about how hard it will be when you’re on Google’s shit list and you’ve been flagged for poor SEO practices and conduct.

I don’t even want to start to think about that and neither should you.

Just don’t do these things.

How can you learn SEO?

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SEO is a prevalent marketing strategy within the business world and there are plenty of great SEO teachers out there today.

I’ve taken full advantage of them and I highly encourage you to do the same so that you’re educated on SEO as you get into implementing it for your business or hiring someone else to do it for you.

My one warning: Be careful and make sure to only listen to reputable SEO marketers.

If “black hat” is mentioned, click the Back button and go to one of the SEO marketers that I mention below.

(1) Neil Patel with Ahrefs

(2) Brian Dean with Backlinko

(3) Moz SEO

(4) Search Engine Land

(5) Yoast SEO

Should you run SEO for growing your business?

I hope that if you’ve read this far, you have a good idea of what the answer to this question should be.

“Yes! Of course you should run SEO for your business.”

As I said above, you’re leaving thousands, maybe millions, of potential eyeballs on the table if you decide to neglect SEO and don’t create your content to target specific keywords that your customers could be searching for.

Look at implementing SEO for your business as another marketing strategy that you have in your tool belt to drive more traffic to your website.

Compare it with social media marketing, content marketing, direct sales outreach, and the many other marketing strategies that you can tap into with digital marketing to reach your ideal end customer.

Just remember that SEO is a long game. You’re not going to see results over night and it’s going to take time to fully understand how to effectively implement and capitalize on SEO.

But speaking from personal experience, it’s well worth it once it all comes together.

I’ve driven thousands, maybe even millions, of potential customers to my company’s website through SEO and it’s a strategy that I continue to implement today.

It’s honestly one of my favorite strategies and it’s one that I’ll always use as I start and scale new companies.

I hope you’ll have the smarts to do the same 🙂

When should you hire someone to run your SEO?


I get it. Not everyone that reads this is going to become entranced by SEO and go on to read hundreds of other articles explaining the ins and outs of SEO. That’s perfectly fine.

I will encourage you to at least wrap your head around the basics of SEO so that as a business owner or marketer, you understand how it works and how it can make an impact on your business.

I’ve always found that even if you aren’t the one implementing a marketing strategy, it’s best to understand it at a high level so that whoever you hire, you can still properly lead and manage from a strategic level.

If SEO implementation isn’t for you, get that basic level knowledge, then go out and hire someone to help you implement it.

There’s plenty of SEO agencies, freelancers, and companies out there that could help your business with your SEO efforts.

If you want to work with me to improve your SEO, drop me a message and let’s talk.

What does good SEO result in?

As I’ve said, proper SEO implementation doesn’t automatically guarantee you will appear on the first page of search results, but it can create a wealth of growth opportunities if you consistently implement it and follow other, more advanced SEO strategies.

Here’s what will happen to your website traffic if you take SEO seriously:

(1) Increased Website Traffic

(2) Ranking for more keywords on Google

(3) Receiving more backlinks to your website from other websites

(4) More social mentions about your content

(5) Overall, better brand awareness for your company

(6) More potential leads browsing your website


My goal with this article was to open your eyes to the power of SEO and how it works with relation to Google and other search engines. For a more in depth look, check out my SEO Quality Quantity Effect Test that I’m running.

The first step to capitalizing on the power of SEO is understanding how it works and how you can apply it to your business.

If you feel like you still don’t quite understand how SEO works and you’re confused by what I’ve shared in this article, drop me a comment or reach out to me directly to chat.

If you found this article helpful in better understanding SEO, share it with your business friends so that they can better understand it as well.

Finally, subscribe to my newsletter where you’ll receive regular content like this teaching marketing tactics and business strategies for growing your business online.

Do you want to
more website traffic?

Hey, I’m Connor Gillivan. Sign up for weekly SEO and digital marketing tips to drive 1,000s to your website.

About Connor Gillivan

He is the co-founder and CMO of EcomBalance , AccountsBalance, and Outsource School. His writing has appeared in Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, and other leading publications online. He has scaled multiple companies to 7 and 8 figures per year. He was the co-founder of FreeUp, which was acquired in 2019 by The HOTH. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

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