How SEO Works

Table of Contents

Why Do Search Engines Exist?

In order to understand search engine optimization (SEO), it helps to know a bit about search engines. Most people don’t realize that search engines are big business, raking in billions of dollars off the searches we do every day. With that much money at stake, it’s not difficult to understand why search engines want to deliver their users the most optimized search results.

Here's how Google makes money by being the best search engine:

Step 1: Serve the Best Results

Google’s goal is to deliver the best content for your search.

Step 2: Earn a Large Base of Users

Because Google delivers the best search results, their website accounts for 79% of global search activity.

Step 3: Attract Advertisers

Google has a lot of users so they serve them a lot of ads. 80% of Google’s revenue is derived from search advertising (not self-driving cars… yet).

Step 4: Invest in Even Better Search Results

To stay ahead of their competition, Google updates their search algorithm 500 to 600 times each year.

Now go back to Step 1 and repeat!

Takeaway #1: Google has a strong incentive to continue delivering searchers the best possible organic results. Therefore, in order for you to earn organic traffic from Google, you must strive to be the best possible search result.

What Does Google Define as the Best Result?

OK, so now you know that all you’ve got to do to drive organic search traffic is be the best. Easy. Wait… what is Google looking for when it rates who is best? There are hundreds of factors that go into Google’s ranking algorithm, but all you need to know are these three categories.

User Experience

Create a site experience that engages your visitor.

  • Is your website mobile-friendly?
  • Does your website load quickly?
  • Does your website work on all browsers?
  • Are visitors sticking around?
  • Do you have clear calls-to-action for your visitors?


Build a trustworthy web presence.

  • Does your website represent the quality of your business?
  • Do reputable sites link to you?
  • Do you link out to resourceful sites in your industry?


Create content that your customers are looking for.

  • Can customers find answers to their frequently asked questions on your website?
  • Is your content unique? Is it readable?
  • Do you use media other than text in your content?
  • Are you using relevant keywords in your content?

Takeaway #2: Focus on your customer, not search engines. If you give your customers the best possible experience on your website, Google is going to reward you for it.

Building Blocks of an SEO Strategy

Now, you understand that being successful at SEO requires three main ingredients: (1) creating a great user experience, (2) building your site’s authority, and (3) publish content with high relevance to your audience. Let’s explore SEO Strategy 101 so that you can begin your journey towards driving massive amounts of organic traffic!

Experience Optimization

You may create the best content in the world, but you won’t drive much value from organic search if you can’t do the following:

  • Build a website that Google can access, crawl and index efficiently
  • Develop your website to be viewable on all devices and major browsers
  • Optimize your website to load content quickly for your visitors

As you can imagine, getting everything right that is listed above takes some technical know-how. If you’re not sure how you fare in these areas, we recommend that you start with an SEO audit. An assessment of your website’s technical infrastructure will help you understand how much work needs to be done.

Authority Building

Once you have a strong foundation, you’ll want to signal to search engines that you are trustworthy. Google wants to direct its searchers to websites that have a strong online reputation. How do you position your website as an authority?

  • Work with reputable websites in your industry to earn backlinks
  • Establish your brand on relevant social channels, industry directories and content syndication sites
  • Publish content on other websites

An effective way to earn backlinks naturally is to simply focus on producing great content for your customers. In the next section, we’ll cover the importance of having a strong content marketing strategy.

Content Relevance

With a strong site experience and growing authority, creating and optimizing content that matches your target audience’s search intent is what brings you organic search traffic. Here’s how your create relevant content:

  • Commit to regularly publishing content on topics in your field
  • Drive high-funnel traffic by answering your customer’s commonly-asked questions through content creation
  • Optimize service and/or product pages for when your customers are ready to convert

As you continue forward, creating great content is your most effective tactic for earning tons of organic search traffic. If you strive to publish content that’s better than your competition’s, you’re sure to outrank them in the long run.

Takeaway #3: Your SEO strategy must be three-pronged to be successful. Optimize your site experience, build your authority and publish relevant content and you’ll reap the rewards.

Where to Begin

  • SEO Strategy: There’s no guarantee of SEO performance without a plan. Learn what we call an outcome-driven SEO strategy.
  • Keyword Research: Learn how to uncover the best keyword opportunities for your content creation & optimization efforts. Check out Moz’s guide to keyword research.
  • On-Page Optimization: Use the keywords you’ve research to optimize essential elements of your web pages. Learn where to use keywords from Backlinko.
  • Authority Optimization: Increase the quality and quantity of your backlinks and brand mentions. See which off-page SEO techniques would work best for you.
  • Content Marketing: Content is what earns rankings, drives traffic and, ultimately, gets you new customers. SEO simply doesn’t work without content. Read this guide on creating focused content.
  • Reporting: Track the ROI of your SEO investment, and make data-driven decisions, with accurate measurement and reporting. See which metrics you should be tracking.
Griffin Roer

Griffin Roer

Griffin has spent more than a decade in the search engine marketing industry. After years of working as an SEO consultant to some of the country’s largest retail and tech brands, Griffin pursued his entrepreneurial calling and founded Uproer in May of 2017. He's also served as a board member for the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association.

See More Insights

SearchLite - Don't Sleep on Category Page Content

This month’s SearchLite intro was written by Content Manager, Skye Sonnega Hey everyone, We recently livened up this dull Minnesota winter with two fantastic additions to the Uproer team! Eric Davison joined as a Senior SEM Analyst, and Jenny Hudalla joined as a Content Specialist. These folks are bright, hardworking, Minnesota-local, and coming in

Read More

Sr. Manager, SEO & Operations

Dave Sewich

Dave made an accidental foray into digital marketing after graduating from the University of Minnesota Duluth and hasn’t looked back. Having spent the first part of his marketing journey brand-side, he now works with the Uproer team to help clients realize their goals through the lens of search.

When not at work, you’ll find Dave staying active and living a healthy lifestyle, listening to podcasts, and enjoying live music. A Minnesotan born and raised, his favorite sport is hockey and he still finds time to skate once in a while.

Dave’s DiSC style is C. He enjoys getting things done deliberately and systematically without sacrificing speed and efficiency. When it comes to evaluating new ideas and plans, he prefers to take a logical approach, always sprinkling on a bit of healthy skepticism for good measure. At work, Dave’s happiest when he has a chance to dive deep into a single project for hours at a time. He loves contributing to Uproer and being a part of a supportive team but is most productive when working solo.

Founder & CEO

Griffin Roer

Griffin discovered SEO in 2012 during a self-taught web development course and hasn’t looked back. After years of working as an SEO consultant to some of the country’s largest retail and tech brands, Griffin pursued his entrepreneurial calling of starting an agency in May of 2017.

Outside of work, Griffin enjoys going to concerts and spending time with his wife, two kids, and four pets.

Griffin’s DiSC style is D. He’s driven to set and achieve goals quickly, which helps explain why he’s built his career in the fast-paced agency business. Griffin’s most valuable contributions to the workplace include his motivation to make progress, his tendency towards bold action, and his willingness to challenge assumptions.