Definition: SEO stands for search engine optimization. Which is the art of ranking high on a search engine in the unpaid section, also known as the organic listings.

Alright, let’s translate that to English. Here’s my go at it:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.

Let me break that down even further:

When it comes to SEO, there’s you, the search engine, and the searcher. If you have an article about how to make vegan lasagna, you want the search engine (which, in 90% of all cases, is Google) to show it as a top result to anyone who searches for the phrase “vegan lasagna.”

SEO is the magic you have to work on your article in order to make Google very likely to include your post as one of the top results whenever someone searches for that keyword.

Overview

Now what does that magic look like, and why does it even matter?

Like I said earlier, the vast majority of online experiences begin with a search engine, and nearly 75% of searchers start their searches on Google.

Combine that with the fact that the first five results on Google get 67% of all clicks, and you get an idea of why search engine optimization is so important.

There’s a joke going around the web that highlights how crucial it is to hit the first page of Google:

If you ever need to hide a dead body, you should place it on the second page of Google search results.

If your blog post, article, or product is on any other page of the Google search results than the first, then it’s the equivalent of it not ranking at all.

But to understand how to show up first in the search engine results, you first need to know how search even works.

How Search Works:

Now that you have an idea of the basics of SEO, I’ll take a look at some of its components in detail.

While Google guards their search algorithm pretty well and not all of the over 200 determining factors are public, Backlinko did a great job of compiling as many of them as possible into one big list.

But first, I need to get one thing straight. There are two sides of the SEO force, and you need to choose yours right now.

White hat vs. black hat

As you know, I’m playing the long-term entrepreneurial game instead of just trying to get a quick buck out of it.

It’s the same with search engine optimization. Some people are in it to make a few grand really quickly while others are in it for the long haul.

If you want to work SEO like a get-rich-quick scheme, you’ll probably end up doing black hat SEO.

This type of SEO focuses on optimizing your content only for the search engine, not considering humans at all. Since there are lots of ways to bend and break the rules to get your sites to rank high, these are a prime way for black hat SEOs to make a few thousand dollars fast.

Ultimately, this approach results in spammy, crappy pages that often get banned very fast. It will often lead to severe punishment for the marketer, ruining their chance of building something sustainable in the future.

You might make a few grand this way, but you’ll continuously have to be on the lookout for search engine updates and come up with new ways to dodge the rules.

White hat SEO, on the other hand, is the way to build a sustainable online business. If you do SEO this way, you’ll focus on your human audience.

You’ll try to give them the best content possible and make it easily accessible to them by playing according to the search engine’s rules.

Inbound Marketing Inc. does a great job of explaining the difference.

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