Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – What is it?

SEOHow much traffic does your website get? 

Is your website as lonely as a small sign in the middle of the woods positioned far from any road? Or is it sitting next to the busy highway where everyone can see it?

I was delivering a workshop last week about online marketing, and it surprised me how few of the participants (savvy, middle-aged business owners) understood the basics of how search engine optimization works.

According to Wikipedia, Search engine optimization (SEO) is defined as:
“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.”

To be fair, SEO wasn’t taught in their business classes back in the 80’s and 90’s. This video is an excellent guide to show you the basics of how search engines like Bing and Google work.

In my work as an online marketing strategist, having an understanding of search engine optimization is an absolute necessity. It’s my job to understand how social media is to be factored into the search algorithms and how that affects your online marketing strategy.

One of the most obvious ways that social media impacts search is that it is a mechanism for people to find out about your content. It’s the difference between your site content being “lost in the woods” where nobody will see it or sitting right along side a busy highway where it gets lots of traffic. For example, they may share it with friends in Google+ or bookmark it on a social bookmarking site like StumbleUpon.

Here are some social media SEO resources that I think you’ll find valuable:

Google’s ‘Fresh’ Update means consistent, current content wins!
StumbleUpon’s impact on your site’s traffic
Reasons to have a Google Profile


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About the Author

Terri DaviesI’m a down-to-earth, technically savvy, modern marketing inspired designer, educator, and coach. I’ve been working online for nearly 10 years now, and early on realized I had a knack for spotting the remarkable aspects of a person or business bringing that online. I truly love what I do, and I am happiest when I am working with my team, making beautiful things for heart-centred entrepreneurs (especially when I'm doing that from my mobile office in a tropical country).View all posts by Terri Davies →

  1. Jordan J. Caron
    Jordan J. Caron12-16-2011


    It is shocking to hear how many business owners are not aware of how SEO works. A good friend of mine had the idea that Google took into account of page visits. Although that is true in some sense, there’s more to the equation. Relevant backlinks and onsite optimization are a couple of others. He’s a young business owner as well.

    It will be interesting to see how SEO and Social Media will work together over the next few years. Recently I have heard that if you search a specific term, the top results will be owned by websites who your social media connections have “liked” “followed” or shared content from. This is fantastic as it combines two ways we go about finding stuff online. We either ask for our friends or followers feedback or head to Google.

    • Terri Davies
      Terri Davies12-16-2011

      Hi Jordan,

      Yes, you’re right – it’s cool to see Google incorporating the interests of your social networking friends into search results (when you’re logged into Google and have your Google Profile set up with social media accounts connected). It’s like the StumbleUpon add on bar – it shows me how many people have “liked” the sites in my search results. Basically, I rely on StumbleUpon users (who are mostly strangers) in the social community to help me to decide which links to click on when I am searching for something that I have no experience with.

      • Jordan J. Caron
        Jordan J. Caron12-19-2011

        Does it show the other SU users or the one’s your following? I have the SU toolbar for chrome but don’t see if any recommendations on search content have been made by my fellow users. Am I using this thing wrong?! I get a lot of recommendations from my Twitter community when searching but that’s it.

        PS. What’s your SU user name?

        • Terri Davies
          Terri Davies12-19-2011

          I have never seen a users ID come up in the search results, just a star rating and thumbs up, which gives me a sense of the general support for a particular site. I’ve never seen a thumbs down though. My username is TerriDavies:

Sociability is a small business marketing, social media company with a focus on mobile web design and WordPress website design in Victoria, BC. We are also a social media consultancy with social media experts that are knowledgeable in Facebook for business marketing, Twitter for small business, and Linkedin for business. We have a team of website developers specializing in WordPress website design and responsive website design. If you’re looking to use WordPress as a website in your business, or integrate social media and modern marketing into your online presence, Terri Davies and her team at Sociability will take excellent care of you. We also provide social media courses for small business and non profits.