Search engine optimization, or SEO, is not the same as SEM, or search engine marketing. Where SEM is all about paid search efforts, SEO focuses on where a brand or business shows up in search engine results page or the SERP.
When techies and digital pros talk about the infamous and mysterious Google algorithm, they are referring to the variables that Google calculates to determine where a listing shows up in results. There is no one article that can explain the many factors that can influence a search engine ranking score, and there is no magic bullet, number one variable that trumps all the others. But there are basic things brands should take into consideration to help.
1) Mobile first. Google dings sites that are not mobile-friendly and rewards those that are.
2) Relevance. The content on your site must be relevant to what your business is about.
3) Freshness. Google (actually computer programs called “bots”) periodically reviews your site to see what’s new. They like to see new content on a regular basis, which is why many marketers recommend adding a blog page to your site.
4) Secure. This one is relatively new, but increasingly important. Google really wants your page to be secure, so look into getting that HTTPS protocol.
5) Behind-the-scenes clues. The bulk of what Google is looking for is behind the curtain. When the bots review your site, they appreciate and reward the clues you leave for them. These are tags and keywords and snippets of code that help the programs sort through the information quickly.
SEO is an ongoing task item that needs tending as long as you have an online presence. If you can do what you can, it’s better than doing nothing.