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.

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.

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.

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.]