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SEO: A Really Elementary Breakdown, Part Two

by Shari Finnell

When you’re working in an industry that’s unfamiliar to the average person, more than likely you’re prepared to give at least a 5- to 10-minute answer to the question, “What do you do?”

Those types of jobs don’t come along often. Now that I find myself working in the SEO industry, I realize this is the first time in my career I’ve ever encountered completely blank stares when I explain the industry in which I work. When the reply was “newspaper reporter” or “magazine editor,” it was simple to move on to another level in the conversation.

Saying “editor for a professional SEO services company” presents an entirely different situation.

In last week’s post, I provided an elementary breakdown of why SEO is important for brands trying to reach the top of search engine results for their selected keywords. For instance, a Kansas City plumber who wants to make sure Internet users find him first when their toilets overflow should be on Page One of Google or Bing results when anyone types in “plumbing Kansas.” Why? Rarely will users go beyond Page One to find what they’re looking for. The process of helping him reach the top — if he deserves to be there as a result of his reputation, years of service, etc. — is called search engine optimization.

OK. Now for this week’s elementary lesson: “Exactly how do you make that happen?” That was the question posed by a reader of last week’s post. Good question, Terry. First, you need to know a little bit about how search engines work. If you’ve ever seen The Matrix, try to imagine the miniature robots that power Google, Bing and other search engines as sentinels — extremely smart and unrelenting in finding their targets … maybe just not as evil.

These bots move at amazing speeds (yeah … light years faster than sentinels) when a web user types … let’s say, “plumbing Kansas City” into the Google search bar. The bots go through billions of indexed pages to find the most relevant and highest quality results for that keyword phrase. On your end, it seems nothing short of magical. It’s that fast.

Google uses three basic processes to get the job done:

  1. Crawling: This step allows the behemoth search engine to discover web pages that are new or have been updated so that they can be added to the Google index.
  2. Indexing: After processing the pages it crawls, the bots capture the words contained on it as well as their location—indexing the information like an old-time librarian. The bots also process any information in title tags and other content tags.
  3. Serving results: This is the process by which Google bots distinguish among pages to determine which among them is the most relevant and quality result. The bots weed out pages with spam, weak content or poor architecture. Then they gauge what’s left to come up with the best search results. Under Google’s PageRank, more than 200 factors are considered as part of this in-depth search. In a few words, it’s a complex and sophisticated system of getting results.

OK. Back to that question:

How do SEO companies help clients gain higher rankings?

Slingshot SEO gets results for clients through its C.L.A.S.S. Methodology. First the clients need to qualify as deserving. In other words, they already have what it takes to deserve an organic rise to top rankings for their keyword phrase based on their reputation and level of service. After a thorough analysis of the competitiveness of the client’s proposed keywords and ranking challenges, the Slingshot SEO team develops a comprehensive C.L.A.S.S. approach that includes:

Content

One of the ways clients can establish themselves as leaders in their industry is by developing and populating the internet with content relevant to their industry, including written content, images, videos, etc. When searching for results, search engines are sifting through many different forms of content to evaluate each web page for the most relevant and authoritative results. Of course, this is where I come in … working with clients to generate quality and relevant content. In recent years, this component—quality content—has become crucial to successful SEO.

Link Graph Optimization

When deciding between two “equally” good pages of content, search engines will choose one over the other by analyzing links. The page with the more quality links pointing to it from other sites will be ranked above the other.

Architecture

There’s little sense in trying to attract people to a site if they don’t like what they see when they get there or have a hard time navigating the site. The architecture of a client’s website can significantly impact a user’s experience. Slingshot determines the user-friendliness of each site, analyzing factors such as ease of navigation, weak content, ad-to-content ratio, etc.

Social

Social signals are gaining more attention as an SEO factor. A client’s presence through social avenues is analyzed and optimized by our team.

Strategy

Each client’s SEO plan is customized, using different levels of the above components to optimize the opportunity for search engines to recognize our clients’ brands and rank their keywords. In that way, Slingshot SEO helps its clients move to the top of search engine results.

If you’re still fuzzy on how SEO works, take the time to navigate the blogs, white papers and guides on this site explaining the finer points of SEO.

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