Does it sometimes seem like Google knows what you are thinking and exactly what you are looking for? In today's digital world, when you need information on products, services, people etc., you turn to Google to find the information you need by typing in key words or a phrase. Google will then return a search engine return page, know as a SERP with a listing of relevant pages for that search. Google is the number one search engine in the world and uses sophisticated algorithms to ensure the information it returns to you is what are looking for. While Google may return millions of SERPs, you typically find exactly what you in the first few returns. These results are called "organic" search returns and Google provides this information for free. Companies that rank high in SERPS can make a great deal of money without ever having to pay for advertising. These free returns are what drives the SEO business. Above and next to your "free" SERPS are Google ads. Google makes it money when you click on one of those ads. Ads are "sponsored" content on a SERP page that direct you to sites that advertisers want you to visit.
In the example below, we queried the search term "chest pain" and Google returned over 25 million results in 1/3 of a second! Under the search terms you see a Google ad. This is a paid ad for a site called "secondscount.org". If you click on it, the advertiser will be charged a fee from Google. If you look below the ad, you will an "organic" a search return for an article on WebMD. This search return is "free", so if you click on it, WebMD does not pay for you to visit their site.
Organic search results have to do with what Google believes to be a relevant search result for you. It is in Google's best interest to give you the most relevant results possible or you would stop using Google. So how does Google "know" what is relevant?
That is what the science of SEO is all about. A great deal of math goes into it, but at its most basic level, the search returns are based on how popular a page is on the web. Your location, browsing history and "context". The single greatest factor Google takes into account is how many "credible" sources link to that page. Google actually publishes articles on how to optimize your website page for SEO. Click here to view the Google manual.
But before Google can do any of that, it has to know about your page and "index" it to figure out what the content on the page is about and then make sure it is relevant to the search query.
SEO is intricate and always changing which is why companies pay the Bridge Group and other SEO experts to optimize their websites. They are seeking to be relevant and have their web pages return on the first SERP page and as high as possible in those returns to drive free traffic to sites. In addition to following the Google guidelines, the Bridge Group has developed a proprietary 50 point check list to optimize websites for organic search returns that has evolved over the past decade. You see some of the elements here.
A word of caution: there is no such thing as a magic bullet that will get your page to a top SERP. At the end of the day, you MUST have compelling content that is recognized by other credible websites in order to rank higher in SERPS. While all links to your website will count, some count more than other.
For example, let's say you are a voluntary health agency fighting blood clots. Having a link from Citizen "X's" blog or Facebook page will not mean as much as having a link pointing to your site from the CDC, Wikipedia, or NIH. SEO will only take your company so far, that is why you need a complete digital strategy to promote our business. SEO is just a part of it.