A Practical Introduction to SEO and Search Engines for Bloggers

It's not as complicated as it looks!

[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]

My goal with this series is to break down the barriers that stand between you and your understanding of how SEO is not only important to your efforts as a blogger but how you can use this new found understanding to actually begin to develop a strategy for execution to take your blog way above (literally) your competition.

My hope is to keep it as non-technical and as practical as possible (as I do in my other Blog Series) because not every blogger has the technical chops! I may provide some more technical and development-related information but don’t feel bad if you choose to skip over those areas – you won’t be required to know them in detail to make a difference on your blog!

So why spend the time learning more about SEO? You see, it’s no secret that the best and most effective bloggers out there dedicate time, resources, and even money to search engine optimize their blogs.

As a seasoned Professional Blogger I will be the first to tell you that SEO is a core part of my strategy. Makes sense since I make a Full Time Income from blogging, right?

In fact, I spend a good deal of time on each of my blog posts simply optimizing the titles, content, links, and more to make sure that every single blog post that goes out has the potential to be #1. For example, if a blog post takes two hours to write I probably spend at least 30 minutes on just optimization alone! When was the last time you spent that much time on just optimizing your blog post before publishing?

And why shouldn’t you, right? If you think that your blog posts and content are that good (which most of them are) then why not spend the time to understand SEO the right way so that your blog posts have the most potential to be found by the right (and growing) audience?

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Yup, it does. Here are some other benefits of spending your time learning more about SEO and how it can affect your blogging efforts:

  • You’ll rank higher in organic search results.
  • You’ll get more traffic to your blog.
  • You’ll get more readers to your blog.
  • You’ll earn (and keep) more subscribers via RSS, Twitter, Facebook and more.
  • Your financial earning potential for your blog can increase dramatically.

So far I see nothing negative here! So let’s get started, right?

SEO is about growing your traffic. Period.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, refers very simple to the strategy and methodology of helping a website rank higher (seen near the top of search engines like Google) on a search return.

Here is another definition that can provide some more context:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. tweet

Sounds a bit technical, right? Here’s my personal definition that I share with others:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the strategy and method of increasing traffic to your blog from search engines. tweet

Same difference, right? You may not have known what it is but you’ve certainly heard the phrase before, right? Regardless, you engage with SEO every single day as you go about your web searches:

As you can see with this search for “laptops” the green are paid search returns (those links are paid for by companies trying to advertise to you and they are seen higher on the page and on the right because they pay for those spots) and the red organic search returns the ones that rank high because of search engine optimization strategies or just plain luck.

Your goal as a blogger, at least in the very beginning (and perhaps for a very long time) is to get ranked as high as you possibly can in the red section or the natural and organic search returns. You won’t want to pay for search terms or queries yet!

How Do Search Engines Work?

One of the best places to start is at the source. In fact, I realized very early on that the more I knew about how Search Engines worked the better I could execute and build strategy around my own blog.

One great example that I’ve used historically is thinking about it like your car – the more you know about your car the more you can take care of it and take advantage of all that it has to offer. You can even save money if you know things like changing/rotating your own tires or changing out the oil yourself. But that’s only because you know more about your car, right?

Same thing with SEO and how search engines operate – the more you know the more effective you will become!

You already know generally how search engines work, right? You see it every single day:

A web search engine is designed to search for information on the World Wide Web and FTP servers. The search results are generally presented in a list of results and are often called hits. tweet

But how does this practically apply to your efforts as a blogger and what is really happening behind the scenes to get bloggers and site owners tons of traffic?

Here are some of the more important terms that you should definitely know about:

  • Crawling – This is the simple act of a search engine finding your blog and taking a look at the content. A spider or a crawler is the actual tool or technology that does this. It follows links to and from your blog to other areas.
  • Indexing – This is what the spiders or crawlers do as they find new content: They index it or jot it down in the systems memory for use later. The more that a spider can index the more they’ll have to retrieve when someone asks for content that you have. It is worth noting that there is no guarantee that a crawler or spider (or bot) will actually find your content or ever will visit your blog so it behooves you to “help” make that possible.
  • Processing - This is where the crawler or bot begins to sift through your content and compares it to other worthwhile information out there. It’ll compare keywords and use formulas developed by each of the search engines to determine their value, especially as it relates to relevancy for returning search queries.
  • Relevancy – This is one of the most important terms that you’ll need to know and it’s all about how close your content is to whatever the person is actually searching for. As each search user looks for the things they need in a search engine, typically called a “search query” or “search string” each search engine determines and calculates the relevancy of the pages in its index. There are various algorithms used and you could spend as much time as you wanted on researching the ins-and-outs (but I’ll do some of that for you) but the important thing to know is that search engines change their algorithms constantly (so you’ll want to stay on top of those updates) and that you’ll need to adapt your blog content and how you publish for those changes. The more adept you are (especially better than your competitors) the more effective you will become.
  • Retrieving – This is the simple act of the search engine returning the content back to the user. You see this by simply seeing the results listed out in the search results. But, it’s important to note that it’s listed and sorted from the most relevant to the least relevant. You want to be in the former group at all times.

This entire process works auto-magically in the background for both the blogger and the end-user. You won’t have to even think about it much from a technical perspective but you will want to think about it as you write your blog posts, craft your content, develop the site architecture, and provide keyword research for big hits and ultimately long-term results.

Of course, we’ll cover this soon enough!

What Does This Mean Moving Forward?

It means that there’s a lot of opportunity to grow from here! The more you can understand the basics and begin to even apply those to your blog you’ll see a dramatic lift up in traffic and search engine ranking.

And, as we move forward into the more advanced features and strategies you can continue to build from there.

So make sure to Subscribe to the blog and follow this great and practical series that I’ll be releasing over the next few weeks!

Please let me know if you have any questions or anything in particular you’d love for me to cover!

[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]

  • http://www.geekfori.com Matthew Snider

    You are the man. This is great for any blogger period, old and school or young and unschooled.

    Great stuff John.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i’m excited about this series… it might just be one of the best ones!

      • http://www.geekfori.com Matthew Snider

        So far I am agreeing with ya! Great job on the research man!

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          love the new avatars!

  • http://alexspeaks.com Alex Humphrey

    John, I’m so excited about this part of the series! SEO is something I’ve read about before, but have always had some trouble with. I do my best to write quality content and hope the SEO kind of works itself out. I’ve read a few eBooks, but most of them are pretty confusing.

    What I’m trying to say is: I’m really excited you’re doing this – you have a way of explaining things that makes it simple to understand and execute. This is a huge part of blogging and seeing you write about it lets me know that soon it’ll be a part of blogging I do regularly!

    • http://john.do John Saddington


      this is humbling for me man…! i try to keep it as simple as possible… lord knows that that’s the way i learned! thanks for being an awesome part of this community…!

  • TrafficColeman

    Seo is my life and not only do I do if for my sites. but I also help other clients who have trouble understanding it. Remember that once you know how seo works..then the doors start to open.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      this is true… and you need another quotation mark! do you ever come back and read responses?q

  • Dewitt Robinson

    This is extremely helpful. Very easy to understand. Would write more, but I’m just starting to learn this strategy.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      you’re going to be killing it soon!

      • Dewitt Robinson

        No doubt.

  • Monique

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    • http://john.do John Saddington


  • http://suburbiauncovered.com/ Matt Powell

    This simple and systematic way of explaining SEO is so incredibly helpful. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by it all… thanks!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing matt! i’m not a rocket scientist and neither are you.. ( i think ) so we better just keep it simple, right?

      • http://suburbiauncovered.com/ Matt Powell

        no rocket scientist here… just your usual jack of all trades, master of none – sort of – church planter :) So, yes… you’re exactly right.

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          haha. i like that. :)

  • http://lifexpresseddigitally.me/blog Brian Alexander

    I’ve seen a dramatic increase just from the ChurchMag photo contest. Check these stats out. http://cl.ly/252J0Z2p43182T19241V

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      whoa…… love those numbers!

  • Chase

    Thank you so much! I’ve spent so much time trying to understand SEO and you cleared up a lot of it in 15 minutes. Definitely looking forward to this series!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      word up.

      everytime i see your gravatar i think of this guy… i’m really sorry about that strange… uh… imagery:

      the thing is that none of them have a moustache… really odd. seriously.

      • Chase

        It’s cool. Dad and I loved watching them on TV while I was growing up. My wife’s a photographer and took that avatar photo for one of her classes. Basically, her instructions were to “Make a face.”

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          hahahaha. ;)

  • http://amethystwebsitedesign.com Marcy

    I really appreciate you for sharing the time you spend writing the “SEO.” You really do write each individually; that helps a lot. And now I know why it takes me so long… :) I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      great! you’re in the right place!

  • http://sproutsenroute.com Kristin

    I am really excited to learn more about SEO… I’ve been trying to figure it out by myself, and honestly, I’m so glad you’re doing a series on it because I need help!! I already feel better after reading this, can’t wait for the next installment. Thanks John!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing kristin! you won’t become a pro after this series… but man, you’ll be ahead of the curve!

  • http://thetickershow.com Chase

    If the majority of the information on my blog is in video form, how do I properly set myself up for SEO success?

    Do transcripts of the videos?

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      that would be the optimal… because all that rich and unique text from the video!

      • http://thetickershow.com/5-ways-icloud-will-change-the-way-your-real-estate-team-gets-things-done/ Chase


        That’s what I’ve been doing, but only in summary form. Maybe a long form or direct transcription will be better.

        Thanks John.

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          long form would be the “best”… but that takes time and money at times.

  • Ryan

    Hey John,
    You have a lot of great information here for people that are new to the world of SEO. Thanks for a great post!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing ryan! i love sharing what i know!

  • http://ichrch.com Rich Langton

    I must admit that I’ve been lazy when it comes to SEO and my stats show it. I’ve put off concentrating on it, waiting for the right time to implement a good strategy…. well, now is time! This series is going to be so helpful!!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      great! glad i could help you out rich!

  • http://www.hugskissesandsnot.wordpress.com Stephanie

    Thank you for this series. Oh boy, I have A LOT to learn and you are a huge help. Thank you!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing stephanie! share it with others!

  • googler

    Very simple introduction to SEO. Concise but very informative. I am looking forward to read the next articles. Now I don’t need to read tons of pages of SEO books. Thanks a lot John!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      there’s a lot more out there than what i’ve got here… but this is a great start!

  • http://Thinke.org Matt Brown

    John, I’m SO glad you shared this whole series! Just starting out on it for the first time, at the recommendation of a mutual friend @dvest. I will comment on the last blog when I’ve read thru it all. THANK YOU!