Internet Basics: How Does SEO Work?

how does SEO work

Though many people in the current generation grew up with the Internet an integrated part of their lives, not many people understand how it works.

Why do you get advertisements for things you recently searched on Google? What makes the first results appear first on the list when you’re using a search engine to look something up?

There are few people who can answer these questions, despite the fact that they use the Internet every single day.

You might’ve thought all of that happens by chance. But that’s not the case.

How does SEO work, after all? And what even is it? Why is SEO important?

In this guide, we’ll teach you one of the most important Internet basics you need to know: how SEO works and what it is.

Read on for a full explanation that will have you fully educated on SEO in no time at all.

What is SEO?

SEO is almost always discussed and pronounced in its abbreviated format. The long version is that SEO stands for search engine optimization.

You can use context clues to understand that it probably has something to do with the optimization of search engines.

But what exactly does that mean?

What SEO Does

The easiest way to understand SEO is that it’s taking steps to help your website rank higher on the list of results provided by search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

If you’ve just created a website and want to show up when people Google “pizza,” it’s not going to just happen automatically.

As you’d probably imagine, there’s a lot of competition for common keywords like that. You’re going to have to work very, very hard to be seen among the top search results.

However, for something like “Sam’s Pizza West Palm Beach,” you have pretty good chances. You’re probably the only pizza joint in West Palm Beach named Sam’s, and even if not, you don’t have too much competition to stand up against.

Why SEO Is Important

If people can’t find you when they’re searching for something your business offers, there’s not a whole lot of reason to have a website.

If you haven’t asked yourself how does SEO work at some point in launching your website, you’re doing it wrong.

The goal is to rank high for keywords that are relevant to you so that you can get found by customers and potential customers who are searching for exactly what you offer.

How Does SEO Work?

SEO consists of three main categories. All of these work together to form the basis of a good SEO strategy.

Answering the question how does SEO work will require you to learn about the two following categories of SEO.

On Page

This is also called on-site SEO.

On-page optimization includes things like optimizing the keywords within your headers and pages. It’s optimizing the individual pages of your website so that they’re prioritizing the use of your target keyword.

On-page SEO has to do primarily with your website itself. From the photos to the written content you post, on-page SEO is improved by implementing the keywords you’ve chosen for your business.

On-page SEO also has to do with meta tags and titles. As you get deeper into the world of SEO, things get a bit more complicated.

Basically, though, search engines want to ensure that you have a lot of information available on whatever it is you specialize in. Posting quality content is essential. You want to appear as an authority on your given subject.


Off-page, or off-site, SEO is everything that’s outside the realm of your website.

This works almost as a form of testimonial or social proof.

If you have other sites referring people to your site, the search engines will treat your site much better. Your ranking will improve.

Having lots of links from other sites will boost your authority. The best case scenario is when the text they use to link back to you is one of your target keywords. This will perform great in search engine rankings.

When other websites connect back to your site with items like backlinks or social media referrals, it shows the search engine algorithm that people are visiting and talking about your website.

It proves to them that it’s not just you thinking you’re posting great content–other people think so, too.

Of course, the referral sources must be as relevant and credible as possible.

If a high authority site links to you, that’s a good sign. On the other hand, small or low ranking websites will not do much to help you.

Improving Your SEO

Working on improving your SEO and ranking your site higher and higher in search engine results can make a huge difference in your business.

For example, let’s say the search volume of a phrase like “best pizza West Palm Beach” gets searched 1,000 times per day.

If you rank in first place for that keyword, that means 1,000 new potential customers are hearing about your business every single day!

Use a free SEO audit tool to check the health of your site. Improving your SEO will take some time, but it’s essential for the success of your business.

Need Extra SEO Help?

SEO can take a long time to learn. Getting the knack of it takes some time, especially because the rules aren’t laid out very clearly and they can change at any time.

Still, prioritizing your site’s SEO is necessary for using it to its fullest potential. You’ll want to make it a point to keep up with the times and stay on top of the SEO game.

Whether you need help with a question like how does SEO work or simply want to learn more about the Internet you use every day, we can help.

Check out our selection of SEO tools, resources, and training materials if you want to really step up your online game.