what is seo and how does it work

What is SEO and How does it Work?

I am pretty sure that if you are a beginner when it comes to SEO, you’ll probably want to call it Severely Exhausting Optimization. 

I completely empathize with you but once you start understanding the concepts and applying them, you will realize that it is quite interesting. 

So why not learn what is SEO and how does it work? SEO is Search Engine Optimization.

Why not relate it with our life? That’s how I learned. 

Suppose, SEO means being a person who is put on a pedestal in society. However, there is some effort required to achieve that.

Let’s imagine society as the internet and you are a website. You want to be number one, which you can achieve only through hard work since a huge inheritance isn’t in the cards for you.

Google ads can be compared to the few fortunate ones who have achieved name, fame, money in a short time through their billionaire parents. But I am an AAM AADMI (not from the political party). I am a middle-class person and I am willing to put in all the hard work even if it takes time.

Basically there are two types of SEO:

  1. On-Page SEO 
  2. Off-Page SEO

In on-page SEO, Google checks whether the basic elements of your website are optimized. This optimization is not limited to the appearance but extends to the following factors as well. Let us know about On-page SEO in detail:

1. What is On-Page SEO? How does it work?

Appearance matters so do your abilities: Imagine you went on a first date, shabbily dressed, without putting on any perfume, not taking the extra effort to look your best (even if your heart is gold). Of course, your date would not be pleased and you would not be preferred over the next date they matched with on Tinder. They would assume you do not want to make an effort to win them over. Also if you are only good-looking but your brain processes slowly, it can hamper your image.

SEO works kind of similar way, Google has 200+ factors to in process to assign a rank to any website for any keyword. Higher the Search Volume is more in-depth the evaluation gets.

Listing out some SEO factors (unknown to many)

 – Site Structure

 – User interface / User Experience

Internal linking

 – Server Speed / Server location

 – Backlink profile / Link quality

This is exactly what happens when Google search crawlers (robots) visit your website. They assume the website is of low quality because you have not optimized your page and it is slow in loading and google ranks you lower. 

In on-page SEO, Google checks whether the basic elements of your website, design, fonts, and color are optimized. This optimization is not limited to the appearance but extends to the following factors as well. Let us know about On-page SEO in detail:

a. Keyword Research: 

This is the most crucial part of On-page SEO. Here, we’re going to discuss Keywords that are basically what our audience types into their search engine. 

Therefore, keyword research is very important to rank on the website. Our website content should contain target keywords, so as to let Google know that you provide the information, services, or product that the consumer is looking for. 

Here, we’re going to discuss two different techniques for doing keyword research.

  1. Keyword research using Search Engine Result Page
  2. Keyword research through Your Competitors Site Analysis

1. Keyword research using Search Engine Result Page:

This technique is actually a very simple & smart way to get started with keyword research where you don’t need any paid tool. Here we’re gonna use Google’s SERP & it’s features to get our keywords.

Let’s say you want to do keyword research for “SEO agencies in Bangalore”. 

How do you start? 

STEP 1: 

Type in the generic terms you would use if you were to look for an “SEO agency”. You would get the list of related searches & google suggestions for that particular keyword. Pick out the ones you feel like could be targeted.

keyword research - SEO

STEP 2:  

On the same page, go to the bottom & as shown below, you’ll see the related searches. Take all the keywords you feel are the best match for your services/products.

List out all the keywords that you got from step 1 & 2.

Keyword research - SEO

STEP 3:  

Go to Google Keyword Planner or any keyword research tool as mentioned below, analyze all the keywords that you have on the basis of Search Volume & Competition.

Note: Here you will see many other keywords people are searching to find services/products like yours, pick if you see any good ones & you feel that you can rank in case you pick up High Search Volume + High Competition keywords.

Take the keywords with maximum search volume with the least competition, remove all the other keywords after you pick up your target ones from the list.


Repeat the same for all of your Services/products to get all the keywords you want & then you can continue with Keyword mapping.

There are other tools as well, such as – Ubersuggest, Answerthepublic, Keywordtool.io, and WordStream Free Keyword Tool. You can follow this process using any of these tools.

2. Keyword research through Your Competitors Site Analysis:

This is another way of picking out the best of available keywords.  Your competitors have already done all that is needed to do keyword research, they rather might have some or the other paid tools. 

Why not get some keywords from them? Right?

I’m sure by now you’d have guessed how to go with this technique. But to make sure I’m just gonna list out the three small steps.


Search on Google with very generic keywords to your services/products.

I.e – SEO Company India, Digital Marketing Agency, Social Media Ad Company.

These are the top keywords in the Digital Marketing Industry so on Google, there will be 7 websites on PPC ads and 10 organic SERP sites.


List out all the 17 websites from page one & on page 2 you’ll get another 14-15 websites you can add onto your list. 

Analyze all of these websites pages (homepage & services pages) one by one & extract it’s target keywords from that page. Keywords will be included in Title, Description &  Content. Make sure you get the right keyword.


After you’re finished with keyword extraction. Go to any Keyword Research Tool & look for Search Volume & Competition.

b. Canonicalization

A canonical tag (rel=canonical) in the back end tells the search engine that the particular URL is the master copy. 

For e.g., we have an HTTP version and HTTPS version of the same website, search engines can get confused about which version has to be shown in the SERP (Search engine result page). 

Hence, having a canonical tag prevents the problems caused by multiple versions of the same website.

How to put a canonical tag: This is a code that goes in the back end of the website.

Canonical tag - SEO onpage

The canonical tag indicates that the page on which this tag is put should be treated as a duplicate of the mentioned URL

c. Header tags optimization: 

Header tags are mostly headings in your post. They are HTML codes and provide a structure to your content. 

The most significant heading tag is the H1 tag and the least significant is the H6 tag. 

We have to follow the hierarchy that is the H1 tag followed by H2, H3, H4, H5, H6. This helps the crawlers to understand the content well

d. Internal link structuring and optimization: 

There should be proper internal link structuring so that the user can navigate to the relevant page on the website. 

Just like in a family, if the family members are not connected, then there would be a lot of misunderstandings. 

Similarly, it is very important in the case of website pages to be interconnected.

internal linking - SEO onpage

e. Image optimization: 

There are mainly two ways of optimizing images, one is to compress the size as much as possible while keeping the same quality & the other one is putting ALT text.

Putting the best relatable/matching phrase on images basically makes the image readable by crawlers so they understand what the image is all about. This would not be needed if crawlers had an eye to see. 😀

Optimize your images from here, make sure you rename each image properly before uploading to the website.

Go to the back-end of your website CMS in the media section and put keywords in the Alt Text. Let’s take the following example:


f. Robots.txt creation: 


Robots.txt is a text file that tells the crawlers/robots, which pages to crawl or not to crawl. 

When the robots crawl a page they look for allow or disallow attributes to know what their instructions are. 

This is done on the backend of the web-page. 

Disallow attribute is relevant for financial transactions mainly in e-commerce websites.

Robots.txt - SEO

This tells the crawlers not to crawl through this page

g. XML Sitemap:

An XML sitemap is a blueprint of the website. It is a guide to tell search engines which content is available and how to reach them. It helps web robots in faster indexation. It’s an important one. So, don’t ignore it.

There are plugins for the same. Like Yoast, Google XML generator.

h. SEO Friendly URLs (URL Rewriting):

URLs should be written in such a way that it is user friendly and keywords should be integrated into the same.

Why is it user friendly?

So that the user/person can easily understand what the page is about when he looks at the URL; if the content/ context is related to what the user is looking for. 

Think of yourself looking for some info on “personality_dev” online & you open some link with /xmlsajd/ types of URL which has all the info you are looking for & another one is /personality-development/ which also has almost all the info that you need. Now, by seeing you could know that the second one has the info you need but you never get to know whether the first one has or not. That’s why it’s important. It helps increase your CTR.

what is seo and how does it work

i. Title tags & Meta Tags Optimization:

Title tags and meta-description is the title & description that we get on search engine result pages. It should contain the targeted keywords that you are trying to rank on.

The title plays a very important role in ranking your keyword as well as making your prospects get onto your website. Where Meta descriptions do not help in ranking your keyword. But It does help increase your CTR (Click-through rate).  

As you can see the keyword is “Australian shepherd puppy,” and it is present in both, the Title and the description (meta-description). Similarly, ensure that your keyword is used in these places.

what is seo and how does it work

j. Page Loading speed optimization:

The more your site takes to load the more you lose traffic. The optimal loading time that any site must have is 3.5 sec at max.

Here’s a detail on the Bounce rate for every second it takes to fully load a webpage.

Pic Credit. PingdomBounce rate & page loading time

Google gives utmost importance to speed and has released the mobile-first indexing update and checks for websites that are mobile-friendly. 

You can check your page load speed yourself, here

Let us take an example of the following website:

 Smush plugin is a good way to auto-optimize all your website images.

k. Structured Data Implementation: 

Google shows schemas (enhanced description) if you add structured data to your site which is a piece of code.

Search engines read the code to create these enhanced descriptions. There are plugins available to create the code without coding knowledge.

what is seo and how does it work

Uses of Structured Data

  • Articles
  • Events
  • Recipes
  • Products
  • Star Ratings and Product Reviews
  • Videos

l. Content Optimization: 

Finally, we have content optimization where keywords should be included but keyword density should always be within 3%. The content of the website also forms a crucial part of on-page SEO. If you provide irrelevant content by keyword stuffing your rank may go down.

By ensuring that you address the on-page SEO, you show the search engines that you know how to target your audience by providing a smooth experience to the users.

2. Off-Page SEO:

You are known by the company you keep and networking matters

Let’s say you are a very good person but you often hang out with the goons, you would also be misjudged. 

However, if you have associations (links) with the right people then you would also be respected and trusted. 

Also like humans, socializing is one of our many priorities.

Making the right connections, having the right friends, and knowing how to carry yourself at social events, adds a lot to your portfolio. 

Social engagement is a crucial skillset, and it would be beneficial for you to hone it. This can be compared with off-page SEO

If you get backlinks from the right website/page which has a high domain authority or page authority you would be given priority by Google and it is always about the right connections and associations.

These can be done in the following ways:

a. Creating shareable content:

 It is important to create extraordinary content that is both informative and engaging. This would also help get organic backlinks when people share your content on different social media platforms

b. Using influencers: 

If you have created shareable content then it is important that you reach out to influencers and ask them for backlinks if they like your blog. 

c. Guest- Posting: 

There are a number of blog websites available for guest posting like Medium. Post your blogs on them and get a backlink. 

d. Social Bookmarking Sites:

 There are multiple social bookmarking sites, like Reddit and Tumblr, that can get traffic to your website when you bookmark your blog page or website. 

e. Forum Submission: 

Take an interest in forums that identify with your site and business, and make an association with that network. Answer to threads, answer individuals’ inquiries and offer your recommendations and guidance. Utilize “Do-Follow” links.

f. Directory Submission: 

Directory Submission attempts to assemble quality backlinks. Pick a viable catalog and select an appropriate classification. 

It requires some investment to convey great outcomes, yet these outcomes stand out over a greater timespan.

f. Article Submission:

 Submit your article in a high-quality article submission directory. Make sure you do not do keyword stuffing. 

g. Question and Answer sites:

 Try this technique to increase traffic to your website, like Quora. Provide solutions to queries related to your business. If required, provide links to your website.

h. Video Submission:

 Another technique is to submit engaging videos to video submission sites, like Youtube. Ensure you give title and description tags too. 

i. Image Submission: 

Submit your images in popular image sharing websites like Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Optimize with the correct URL and title tag.

j. Document Sharing: 

Create unique documents in PDF or PPT format and share them on sites like Slideshare, Scribd, etc.

k. Newsletters:

A newsletter is a cost-effective technique to communicate with your target audience. 

Plan your newsletter, incorporate recent content from your site, and perhaps some fresh content as well. 

For the most part, you should keep your newsletter short, however, loaded with intriguing and applicable data. 

When creating content, ensure that you provide proper valuable guidance, and relevant data so that you add value to your subscribers’ content consumption. 

Make a point to abstain from sending an excessive number of bulletins, else, you’ll irritate your users and begin losing them.

So now you have learned how to optimize your SEO. You would want to know how to check your SEO scoreThere are a few sites that permit you to check your SEO Score, one such site is SEMrushAnother option is to hire an agency that can help you optimize your website and other content to be SEO friendly. 

Tools Summary:


Tools MentionedFunction
Keyword PlannerIt  researches on keyword search volume and average bid cost
                     UbersuggestIt finds trending keywords and search volumes

    Answer the public

  It searches and maps keyword suggestion that you see when you perform a Google search
Keywordtool.io Generates hundreds of relevant long-tail keywords 
Wordstream free keyword tool Allows marketers to pull out lists of  actionable keywords to use in their marketing campaigns
Yoast SEO It gives you tons of flexibility over your site’s content, letting you set up titles, meta descriptions and manages sitemaps
Pagespeed InsightsIt calculates your website speed and gives recommendations
Better AmpImproves loading speed of your website in mobile search
Smush PluginTo optimize images 
Google XML GeneratorTo create sitemaps

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