What is SEO? Truths and Myths.

WHAT SEO IS? If Search Rankings Matter to You, You Need to Know This.

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What is SEO? What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You Video Transcript

This article and video titles “What is SEO?” was designed with you in mind. You are about to take a journey with me Randi Thornton, the SEO Google Guru, as we uncover what SEO is and what it is not (also known as search engine optimization). SEO is valuable for many reasons, but the number one reason to implement best practices into your business marketing plan is quite simple. When done correctly, SEO can and will have an effect on your businesses financial outcome, not to mention brand awareness plus more..

What is SEO. Myths and Truths.

What should be your ultimate objective? According to Wikipedia Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engine via natural or unpaid organic search results.

Typically, the earlier or the higher a website appears in the search rankings list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engines. This gives a website web presence, but what does this really mean?

Let’s break it down…

SEO is Short for Search Engine Optimization. Let’s look at this letter by letter.
  • The first letter in SEO is ‘S.’ S stands for ‘search.’ Search is what somebody does online.
  • The second letter is ‘E.’ E stands for ‘Engine.’ Engine is where somebody searches.
  • The last letter ‘O’ is for ‘Optimization’. Optimization is the process of enhancing the effectiveness of your content so it can be found on the search results page when somebody does a search.
“S” = Search

Somebody’s at a computer, they want information. They want to find something. They search to find that information. Anyone with the computer can search for anything. Therefore, search can be for anything. People search for all types of content. Images, local search, video search, blogging, social media or industry-specific search just to name a few.

A search results page not only returns website information, but other content as well. Therefore, your SEO strategy should not just incorporate your website, but all other types of content as well as videos, images or anything else that you have produced and put online.

“E” = Engine

The second letter in SEO is ‘E.’ Think of the engine as the place where people search. Search engines such as Google and Bing are the most popular places people begin their search and what most considered to be relevant when thinking of search rankings.

However, it s important to note that an engine does not need to be one of the above. There are many different types of engines, such as video engines… think of YouTube. Think of Flicker and other image related search engines. Think of Facebook or Twitter, social media or networking engines. Think of LinkedIn. The list of engines or places people search online is endless. 

“O” = Optimization

The third letter in SEO is ‘O.’ Optimization is the process of optimizing or enhancing the effectiveness of your content, your website, your videos, your images, your social media profiles and more so that your content is found and appears on the search engine, or the place people are searching.

Optimization is implementing SEO best practices for both the engines and your visitors so each and every piece of content you put online so that it can be found when someone does a search for your topic. You want your content to be displayed as early in the search results page as possible. It really, really all boils down to this.

What is SEO Search Ranking?

Optimization has a direct influence on your search ranking. Your search ranking is the position your content is displayed on a search results page. Your goal, is simple. Get your content pushed to the top of the search results page. The ranking your content has on a results page will determine how successful you are. Obtaining the highest search ranking possible and making sure your content is stumbled upon in as many places as possible will determine your success.

Your search ranking matters. 

When you know What SEO Is and use best practices these techniques will have a huge impact on your profitability. When someone does a search and your content is optimized appropriately they will find you. Now that you know what SEO is, you need to learn how everything you do from this moment forward will impact your results.

What is a SEO Search Page?

We are going to do a keyword search for SEO Google Guru and what we are going to see when we hit the Google Search is what is referred to as the search results page. One thing that you need to know is that Google will always show 10 results per page. So if you want to be on page one here you need to show up in the first 10 results. Let’s take a look at this a little bit closer. It looks like Google has got a couple of our pages ranked here and then the third listing is actually our Twitter account.

The fourth listing here is our LinkedIn account. This is the exact reason we discussed earlier the importance of optimizing your social media profiles and everything you do online because these other sources when optimized correctly can also allow you a page 1 ranking for certain search.

Let’s take a look at Bing. This is the results for SEO Google Guru in Bing and it was surprising Bing actually has our Twitter account listed above our website which is in third position on the search results page. Bing also has our YouTube channel listed. So once again it is critical that you optimize for all different types of content, but everyplace and everything you upload or place online.

Let’s look at Twitter. A lot of people love it, but let’s conduct the same search. Let’s search for SEO Google Guru and see what the search results page in Twitter looks like. Twitter is bringing up the different Tweets that I have done in the past and this is what the search results page looks like for Twitter.

People also search on Facebook. They can search for companies. They can search for brands. They can search for people. Login and let’s do a SEO Google Guru search here. Before we get too far we see our SEO Google Guru business page here.

And then last but not least, let’s just take a look at YouTube. I punched in SEO Google Guru here and did a search and this is what the search results page looks like for the YouTube channel. It looks like about maybe 20 to 30 different video results.

So each search is done above has unique results, and each search results page is different although there are a lot of similarities. We have listings and each one of them has a different amount of listings and different way of presenting those listings on their results page.

But where do you think people click?

Here is a search results page from Google. If you were looking at this page, which link would you click on. Which link will your prospects click on? You may be surprised. Let’s find out!

The Google blog conducted an eye tracking study. They said “based on eye tracking we know the people tend to scan the search results in order. They start from the first result and continued down the list until they find a result they consider helpful and click on it or until they decide to refine their query.”

This heat map shows the order people scan on a search results page. The darker the pattern, the more time they spend looking at that part of the page. People scan a page starting at the upper left hand corner and scan down. This is why your search ranking matters.

I found these statistics surrounding a search results page. Well you probably knew the importance of the top three positions in Google Search results page.This data further reinforces that fact.

  • The number one position received 42.3% of all clicks.
  • The number two position only accounts for 11.92% of all clicks, which is almost 72% less clicks than that of the top position. 

Obtaining a number one position for your keyword phrases means nearly four times more traffic than that of your nearest rival.

Now that is a serious difference in both website traffic and potential revenue.

The number three placement results in about 8.44% clicks almost 30% less than that of the number two position and over 80% less than that of the top position in the first results page. This data although from 2006 references Google, it is safe to assume it holds true for any type of search results page.

Bottom line, the earlier you appear on the search results page the more times somebody is going to click on your link.

How Does Google Find You?

Now for the big question, how the heck do search engines find you? The web consists of links, many, many, many links.

Think about it. When you do a search, the search results page is filled with links. These websites link to other websites and on and on. The web is one giant massive links. This is why effective link building techniques are vital.

Google Visits Your Website. Will You be Friends?

Meet the Google Bot. A Bot is also referred to as a spider. The Google bot is constantly crawling the web. The Bot is Google’s web crawling robot, which finds and retrieves pages on the web and hands them off to the it’s indexer. It is easy to imagine the Google Bot is a little spider scurrying across the strands of cyberspace. Gone are the days when you simply go to Google and add your site and ask it’s Bot to come and visit. Don’t bother. He needs to find you.

How will he find your site? What happens when he gets to your site? Will, he see a whole site or just a few pages? What does your site say to the Bot? Will he deem you worthy? How often will he return? It is like meeting someone at a part. What’s the Bot’s frst impression? Will he decide to continue the relationship? How often will the two of you get together? The Google Bot should become your biggest advocate. Make sure you work the relationship and keep him wanting more.

Once you understand the Bot you will know how to help him learn what you want him to know.

So great the Google Bot has come to your website, but now what? What does he see?

This is a webpage. This is actually our webpage, the SEOGoogleGuru.com webpage. When somebody visits your website this is what they see, but I am going to tell you this is not what Google sees and this is not what it’s Bot and/or any spider that visit your sight will see.

Let me show you what they will see.

This is what the bot sees when it comes to visit your site. It is a lot of coding and it also has text in it. It also describes images and this is the formatting or coding is what determines your websites look and feel. This is also what Google sees and this is what the Bot sees when it comes to read your site. Keep in mind this is a lot of information. You don’t have to be an IT person. Well let’s break it down a little bit simpler by taking a closer look at the text Google sees.

Does Google Like Your Website?

When google visits your website, it does not see the images. It does not see any flash and it doesn’t see any other look and feel elements that you have presented on your webpage to your visitors. It really gets down to text. Although images and video and other things can be optimized for SEO, the important thing to take a look at is the text that is actually on the page. 

Let’s look at a page as a visitor would view it. You can see that there is a lot of images.There is a lot of graphs and if we scroll down there is even a video and some additional navigation on the bottom of the page. But the important thing to point out is the text and the links that are found on the page. So this is the bare bones of a website page and this is what we are going to be taking a look to learn how to optimize all of this content and texts on a webpage. What is SEO? Let’s continue to find out more.

Another misconception is web pages. There is usually a great emphasis put on the homepage of a website. While your homepage maybe the page that is landed on most or the top entrance page to your website, each page on your website needs to be considered a homepage from an SEO perspective. Each page is another opportunity. When any Bot or spider visits your website your goal is to make it as easy as possible for him to get to as many pages as possible. 

What is SEO Indexation?

If your web pages are not found, they will never make it to a search results page. How many of your pages will land on the top of a search engines result page? When the Google Bot visits your site he then indexes the pages he has found. It is vital that all your pages are indexed.

However, just because your page is indexed does not guarantee a search results page ranking. How well your pages are optimized along with other factors such as how valuable your website visitors think your content is also effect rankings. Another determining factor is how well your competitor site is optimized will determine your page ranking.

But no matter how well your page is optimized if they are not indexed they will never show up in a search results page. Remember there are many bots and spiders that visit your site. We are focusing on Google. It is fairly safe to say if Google can find and index your pages the others can as well. If each page on your website matters then it is important to find out how many pages are currently indexed in Google. You can then learn how well you are doing or perhaps if your pages are not being indexed you have just uncovered a problem you can fix.

How Many Pages on Your Website are Searchable?

Simple, let’s look at a way to uncover how many and what pages Google has indexed from your website. Here is a trick to see how many pages from your website are indexed. To perform this exercise we use what is referred to as a site command. A site command is a way to uncover data.

Does Google Love You?

The first step is to go to Google. Type in the word S-I-T-E followed by a colon without a space. Then type in your website address. We are going to type in our website address SEOGoogleGuru.com. 

Number two, do not use the www. or an html www. simply put in the yourwebsite.com.

Then hit search. Displayed are the results. The [ages that Google has indexed from your website. When we take a closer look we can see Google always displays 10 results per page.But here is what you really want to focus on. Google has 152 pages indexed from our website. This is pretty accurate for the number of pages that we have in our website. Remember, a page on your website can also be a blog. It can be a blog post. It can be any content and pages that you have contained within your website.

Analyzing your results.

  • If you feel this is the number of pages that your website has, you can assume you on are on a fairly good track.
  • If you feel that there are a lot of pages missing, you need to take a closer look at and figure out why most of your pages are not indexed.

If missing pages are noted you could easily figure out which ones. Is your website SEO friendly? What is SEO? Step 1, getting all pages of a website found and indexed bu Google.

While we are reviewing these results also take a look at your web page’s title and the meta descriptions. I can easily see if my page titles and meta descriptions are correct, missing, there are duplicates or could be crafted better. Some of this we have not discussed yet, but I wanted to introduce it to you while we were on this page and you were looking at these results.

What is a SEO Sitemap (aka XML Sitemap)?

One of the best ways to influence your chances of more page indexation is through a site map.

Having an XML site map for your site is an integral part of search engine optimization and a What is SEO must know. A sitemap is good for many reasons, but the number one reason to have a sitemap on your website is this… by placing a formatted XML file with a sitemap on your web server, you make it easier for search engine crawlers like Google to find pages, learn  which have recently changed plus more.

A site map is a list of pages of a website accessible to crawlers, bots and spiders or users. So when the Google Bot comes to your website and begins searching, if you have a site map link on your home page he is more likely to go to that page. When he arrives at your site map page he can see all of the pages in one spot. You just made it easy for him to find you and all of your website pages.

There are many types of site maps, but the type of site map that the engines like is called an xml site map. Does your website have an xml site? If you don’t know you better find out.

The most common practice is to put the sitemap in the bottom page of a website’s homepage. The importance of putting it on your home page is simple. The homepage is usually the top entrance page to a website, and with that being said if a Bot enters your site on your homepage the Bot is most apt to locate your site map.

Talk to Google 

The best resource is xml-sitemaps.com. We are at the homepage of SEOGoogleGuru.com and when we scroll down to the bottom of the page you will see our sitemap link right here. Let’s click on that. This is our XML sitemap for SEOGoogleGuru.com.

I want point out a couple of different things in the sitemap itself. The first column, the URL section, this is the section that talks about and tells any Bot that visits what pages are on your website. You can also set a priority which is highly recommended. By doing this you are letting a Bot know which pages are the most important pages on your website. Now when Google visits your website that has over one thousand pages, you can now let him know which ones are the most important.

It is important that when you look at your sitemap you understand that these different columns.

The change frequency simply lets Google know how often does this page change, if it is a blog page plus more. Your blog is hopefully updated often. If it is a static page that you don’t change very often then that is fine as well.

The last column indicates when you have made a change to a webpage or perhaps a new blog post was added. By updating your XML sitemap you are communicating with the Bots. If he visited 2 months ago, he can then ignore all of the changes that occurred prior to that and then quickly come in and update and index new content. 

If you currently have a site map go ahead and click on it and make sure that it is current. Make sure that all your pages are listed there and it is in an xml format. If you do not have one, get one!

HTML Sitemaps

This is the html sitemap for SEOGoogleGuru and we had talked about the fact that there are different types of sitemaps. The html sitemap is another good one to add to your website, but it is not the one that typically the search engines or the bots are going to be looking for when they come to call your site. It is a good way for your visitors to visualize the different pages that are on a website.

What is SEO? Google Page Rank Truths

How can you determine if your web pages have Google authority? Now that you know what is SEO, how do you monitor progress? The best way to determine results is by increased website traffic and online conversations and other relevant goals which can be found in your website analytic data. 

Another measurement often used is referred to as Google Page rank. While some pros tend to disregard a websites page rank, it is a valuable quick reference tool. Let me explain further. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being more significant) page rank is a metric of relevance or measurement of validation for a search engine ranking factor.

Having a higher page rank may not trump a page with a lower page rank for a search results listing page. Authority inbound links to a website will have an influence on a page’s rank. Monitoring your page rankings could be useful to alert you of changes, either good or bad.

How to Install the Google Rank Toolbar

At its basic start to think about web pages (pages that reside on a website), not websites as a whole.

Each step up in a Google page rank is substantial.

Notice I say page rank not website ranking? Earlier we discussed the importance of optimizing each page on your website. Google and others rank pages as well as rank a website has as a whole. A website ranking page rank does not suggest the pages within that sites have the same authority. It is easy to surf the net and witness page rank given by Google. 

To install the Google toolbar simply go to Google.com/toolbar. Once you are there click on install the Google toolbar. Once you have installed it you will see a section up here that is going to have the page rank, but it is important you click on options, once you click on options click on tools and make sure you have a check mark by the page rank. Save that, you may need to restart your internet explorer or Firefox or whatever browser you are using.

Now when you land on a web page notice what the page rank is. What is your page rank?

It is really interesting to learn that at that time I was doing the research on this article “What is SEO?”I could only find 10 pages that Google on the entire WWW that had a top 10  ranking. Of course rankings like everything else on the internet changes often. 

Let’s take a look at some of the pages Google thinks are worthy of a page 10 ranking. Maybe not surprising but Google feels that its page or its search homepage is worthy of a page 10 ranking. Another web page that is worthy of a page rank of 10 is the homepage of W3.org. W3.org is a site that is dedicated to promoting ethical and good practices for the internet.

U.S.A.gov and India.gov.in also have the same 10 ranking. Others included HHS.gov and CNN’s home page.

Another one, I had never heard of before was sciencedirect.com. I wanted to snoop a little further and see what page rank Google felt its competition was worthy of. When I went to Yahoo, Google is giving Yahoo or the homepage of Yahoo a page rank of 9.

What does it think of Bing? Google gives Bing a page rank of 8. I think that is interesting.

Let’s take a look at some of the social media network sites. If we go to Twitter it has a page rank of 9. Facebook gets a 9. Pretty good, YouTube gets a 9. And just by the way I don’t know if you know this by Google happens to own YouTube.

Let’s take a look at U.S.A Today. U.S.A Today gets a page rank of 5. So in Googles mind it is saying that CNN is much more authoritative website or at least the homepage is. I work with a lot of clients that are in the real estate industry. Realtor.com is a real popular real estate website. It is fun to that is ranked a 7.

What is SEO? Let’s Dive Deeper.

Remember we said every page counts, so let’s take Realtor.com website as our example and dive a little deeper into what I am really referring to. The homepage of realtor.com as we said has a page rank of 7, which is a very significant rating I must say. So let’s click on the Home & Garden tab and lets see what page rank that particular page has. This page rank or this particular page within the Realtor.com website has a page rank of 5. Notice that the homepage was 7 ans this interior page is 5?

Let’s just continue to click around and look at some different page within Realtor.com. Let’s click on the moving tab. The page rank dropped to a 4. So you can see that as you click around on different websites and you click in the different pages, it is very important to look at the page rank and not the website rank. The website homepage is just a page rank for that particular page.

What are SEO Best Practices?

Finally, we need to explore tactics.

As with everything in life that generates substantial rewards there are right and wrong ways to get what you want or in this case obtain top search results. Google has experienced spamming and get their quick SEO tactics used by some SEO experts and website owners that have tried to abuse the system. Therefore, Google takes great care when it comes to your website to determine your worthiness and credibility.

SEO experts and website owners who try to use short cuts and unethical SEO practices are referred to as using black hat SEO. SEO experts and website owners who follow the guidelines and practice ethical SEO are referred to as using white pack SEO tactics. There is a big difference.

Google and it’s Bot are extremely smart.

What are Some of the Most Common SEO Myths?
What is SEO – Myth 1

The first myth I often hear is when people tell me someone told them “if I just do this or just add that to my site”, I will get top rankings. Sorry. There are no get there quick solutions. Solid search rankings take time. Over time you will reap the massive rewards SEO offers. 

What is SEO? Myth 2

Number two, you can not control the Google search engine results, but you can influence them. The search engines control the results. When you optimize correctly good things will happen.

What is SEO? Myth 3

Implementing “black hat” tactics. I read the horror stories everyday. Webmasters have experienced being banned from Google and their top rankings have disappeared. Trust me, you do not want this to happen to your website. Although there are legitimate resources to request re-inclusion it is very difficult and not worth any short term rewards you may have gained.

What is SEO? Myths 4

Google and other sites display video, tweets, blog posts and more in search results. Social media cannot be ignored and needs as much attention as your website. Every single word and content or media, you put online must be optimized. Your website is extremely important, but when you mix it in with other media you will witness a substantial increase in the search results.

What is SEO? A Summary.

In summary, SEO is a process of making changes to your website pages so when the Google Bot or any other Bot comes to your site, they are able to index your site pages. When your site pages are indexed and optimized you can influence how well your page ranks.

There are no shortcuts and numerous factors will determine your page’s ability to rank high in the search engine.

Because there is only one spot on a search engine’s top page you need to be better than your competition. If you do not know what they were doing you have no way of knowing how to beat them and be better. You will find out how looking at your online competition will have a direct impact on your results. 

Ready for your monthly homework assignment?


  1. When you find yourself doing a search think about where you went to do your search then begin to look closer at the search results page. What pops out to you? What results do you click on? Did you notice anything different or similar amongst the top results?
  2. Verify your website has a sitemap, if not get one. If you do have a sitemap verify it as up-to-date and has all of your web pages listed along with the page priority frequency and when the page was left and make sure that when the page was last updated that information is correct.
  3. Download the Google toolbar. When you are surfing the net referred to the page rank often. What do you notice about the pages that score higher than others? What page rank does Google give your homepage? What ranking do other pages on your website have? 
Measuring Results

One of the very basics to SEO is measuring your results. How do you do this?

With analytics. Buried in this powerful numbers is extremely valuable information. You must have analytics for your website and you must know how to interpret the numbers and data. Trust me. Once you know the power behind this data you will want to make it a priority to review your website analytics on a regular basis.

There are many website analytic programs, but there is one in my opinion that you will not want to exclude from your SEO toolbox. Google Analytics is the analytic tool I recommend to my SEO clients. On top of it being one of the best it is also a free service.

If you currently have Google Analytics installed on your website you are in good shape. If you have another analytic program on your website you may want to consider adding Google’s analytics in addition to your existing source and compare the two, because it is a free service you have nothing to lose especially if you are paying for your website analytics.

I believe in spending money when appropriate, but if you can save money without sacrificing anything, well this is the best outcome. Google has another free great tool called the Google Webmaster Tools. When combined you can measure your results and learn how well your website is doing. Along with uncovering opportunities, because analytics is so powerful and there is so much to learn there is a whole affordable SEO webinar solely dedicated to diving deep into this authoritative data.