What is SEO?

Sep 28, 2021SEO

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? If you asked ten people, you would probably get ten different answers. Yes, there is always the dictionary definition, but what is SEO and how does it work? There are many moving parts that make up the definition of SEO. Let’s take a look at each of those aspects. 


SEO is the combined efforts to get a web page or website to show more often in search results. Search engine visibility is improved in a variety of ways, including changes made directly to the copy or code of a site and improvement of off page factors like backlinks. The purpose of SEO is to increase a website’s online footprint, to be able to be found by more targeted people. More of the right traffic leads to more sales for our clients.  

It’s crucial to make sure that SEO is bringing relevant traffic to the website. If we start to generate traffic from irrelevant keywords, then traffic will rise but sales and/or leads will remain flat. A great search engine optimization agency (ahem like Transistor) will not only help generate more web traffic but also tie that to a tangible increase in revenue for the business. 


SEO is a never ending process. It’s a marketing channel that should always be considered and improved. How does SEO work? We essentially take a lot of data (I mean a LOT of data) and distill that information down into actionable recommendations for a site. When those changes are made, Google (and other search engines), will notice these changes and adjust ranks based on that new information. That’s the process in very simple terms, in reality there is a complex network of options and opportunities that we have to pull together to get sites moving in the right direction.

You can think of the SEO process in a few key steps:

  1. Research: Using existing rankings, competitors data, and 3rd party data to learn how potential customers are searching and how the site is performing.
  2. Entities & Keywords: We map searches to named entities and select keywords for tracking our progress.
  3. Optimizations: These are changes made directly to the site. Changes can include meta data, copy, internal links, schema, technical changes and more. 
  4. Implementation: Changes need to be made to the site for Google to crawl. 
  5. Review: Once changes are made, review of progress starts. This review process can take weeks or even months because we can’t fully predict when rank changes will occur.


We’re not here to convince you that SEO is right for every site, because it’s not. But we do think SEO is a key marketing strategy that can be commonly overlooked. It’s important to look at how SEO can play a part in your overall marketing plan and the  cost-benefit to the investment. You’ll need to understand if there is search volume around the product/service, how competitive the search results are today and what are your company’s plans for sales and expenses. If there is strong search volume, reasonable competition and there is budget for growth in this channel, then SEO is a great option. 

Another SEO consideration is competition. You have the task of not only making more revenue, but making sure you make more revenue than your competitors. In order to keep up with their online visibility, SEO can become very important very quickly.


If you are still confused about what SEO strategy is and how it differs from your current marketing efforts, let me explain. SEO isn’t THE strategy, it’s a part of the overall plan. SEO doesn’t work best when it’s the only channel for marketing and sales, it’s best when SEO is integrated with offline efforts (like tradeshows) and paid media. That way you have a well organized machine to bring in more and more qualified traffic.  


We’re not going to sugar coat it, SEO is not cheap. It’s what we call a long-term investment. The great thing about SEO is that it is flexible. We can grow faster or slower depending on level of effort and site potential. That level of effort is the major driver of cost. The good news is that even marginal increases can make major differences to your bottom line. 

You might think, “I get organic traffic and revenue already. It’s been growing. What use is SEO?” Well the value of SEO is all in the marginal revenue gains. What if your current organic revenue growth trajectory could be increased 50%? Our job is to expand on existing performance, find new areas of opportunity as well as fight off attrition from competitors. Most sites will see organic traffic/revenue growth without dedicated SEO effort. There’s virtually always a ceiling on the level of growth you can achieve this way. It’s also extremely likely that as your competitors do SEO, you’ll start to see your performance decline. This is why you can’t just ignore SEO.

What are the non-monetary benefits of SEO? Brand visibility is a major perk of SEO. The more times your website shows up for non-branded search terms, the more your name is associated with those non-branded terms.  This is a nice brand activity to get a natural view for your website. Another result that SEO can produce is taking over competition. There are some industries where no one practices SEO so you are leading the way.


The time it takes to see SEO results depends on what you do and how committed you are to the process. It also depends on what you’ve done in the past. If a site with a lot of SEO power comes in and optimizations are implemented, it’s not crazy to  see results in 3-4 weeks. This stuff can be pretty immediate. On the other hand a site that never has done SEO or is a new brand, it could take upwards of 3 to 6 months to start seeing results. Results depend on strategy, competitive market and the industry.

If you want to see some of these results, let’s get in touch and start defining SEO for you.

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