Understanding SEO: It’s Like a Car Race

If you want your business website to rank high in the search rankings, then it needs to be enhanced using search engine optimization (SEO) practices.  Whether you are a marketer or a business owner, understanding SEO and what it does is the first step toward ranking better.   

The Importance of Ranking High

There are not many businesses today that would argue against the importance of ranking high in online searches. Being in the top positions provides an opportunity to get noticed by potential customers.  That importance is backed up by a HostingFacts.com report.  It states that 91.5% of all Google searchers never look past the first page of search results. 

So being on that all-important first page has a special significance.

Search Engines

Understanding SEO really begins with understanding why search engines operate the way they do.  A search engine is a tool designed to attract people to use it in order to get them to view advertisements.  To that end, Google and other search engines want their users to have a good experience so they will return and use their service again. So the search results they provide need to be quality matches.

Then, to enhance the users experience more, the results are ranked in descending order, with the seemingly most relevant website first. 

There are a number of factors that the Google algorithm considers when returning search results.  Getting websites to meet these criteria is what search engine optimization is all about. 

Understanding SEO and its Two Main Objectives

SEO does two things for your website. First, it prepares the site to be found and indexed by Google.  Being indexed is necessary if you want your site to appear in the  search results. If your site is not search optimized, then it won’t be indexed for search.

Second, once optimized, engaging in ongoing SEO practices can help your website compete against the websites of your competitors.

Getting Ready for a Car Race

To make understanding SEO a little simpler, let’s think about your car and a race.   Is the car you drive right now ready to drive in a car race?  Most people would answer “No.”

To be ready to race a car it needs to be tuned up and enhanced.  It requires special steering, special brakes and shocks and a host of other things to get the car ready.  SEO does something similar for your website.  It gets it ready to be found in online searches.

It tweaks your site and adds elements such as title tags, meta descriptions or image ALT tags so Google can find your site, and understand what it’s about. Without even the most basic search optimization, your website can’t enter the search-engine race. 

Competing to Win the Race

Once your car is good enough to enter the race, then you can take steps to start competing and eventually win.  For the car and driver, this requires hours of practice and testing to get both the car and driver better.  But over time, that practice and testing can pay off.

Ongoing SEO practices do something similar for your business website.  Your competitor’s websites might initially rank higher than yours.  There are a number of reasons for this: Perhaps they have more relevant content or more backlinks. But  by using SEO strategies, you can catch your competition over time and rank higher, winning the search-engine race!

It’s On-Going

Understanding SEO also involves the acknowledgement that it is not a one-time fix, but is instead on-going.  It is a continuation of practices that will deliver the right results.   When you shut down your SEO, your ranking will begin to slip.

The Wrap

When you consider that ninety-five percent of all Americans shop online for the products or services they need, the importance of ranking well in searches becomes clear.  If you want to be found where shoppers are today, online, you need to rank high in the search results.


Bob Turner is a Digital Marketing Consultant in Cincinnati, Ohio.


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