How SEO works

7 min read
Abhinav Singh

In a recent survey of 600 urban Indian consumers, 70% said they search on the internet before making a purchase. If you are thinking of going online or if you already have a website that’s struggling to get more visitors, then hang on. In this article, we will discuss how SEO works and how it can be a game-changer for your business.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.

With deep penetration of smartphones and high-speed internet in India, consumer behaviour has shifted towards online research. If your business isn’t online, you’re simply invisible to potential customers.

Editor’s note: No time or interest to optimise your website on your own? Let the GoDaddy experts do it for you.

The 3 key parts of any SEO effort

Broadly, you can work on the 3 search engine optimisation (SEO) areas below.

  1. Technical SEO.
  2. On-page SEO.
  3. Off-page SEO.

Most people don’t look beyond page No. 1 of search results. You need to do all you can to make sure your website is listed there. Keep reading to learn how it’s done.

What is SEO?

As the name suggests, SEO is a process of adjusting your website so that search engines like Google can easily read it. If the search engine can’t understand your website, it will not be shown to potential customers.

We do SEO so that search engines show our website in the search result when someone types in a related query.

How SEO Works Google Search Screen

Do you know 70% of the internet users do not scroll past the first page of the search engine results?

You must be thinking, “Why put in so much effort learning and implementing SEO when you can easily spend a few bucks and place an ad on the first page?”

Well, the same study says that 70 to 80% of the users ignore the paid results and prefer clicking the other results. They understand that ads are paid for and therefore, might not provide the information they seek.

Moreover, SEO is an asset to your business that reaps lifetime benefits — long after you are no longer paying for that ad.

Related: 5 of the best SEO tools for Indian small business

How SEO works: 3 steps to page 1

How SEO Works Letters Spelling Out SEO
If Google doesn’t index your website, no one will ever see it in search results.
Photo: Merakis on Unsplash

There are approximately 200 factors that Google uses to decide whether to show a particular website on page 1 (or page 20) of search results.

Below we explain how to improve the chance that search engines will list your website on page one of results for your keywords.

1. Technical SEO

Say you’re planning to buy a house. The first thing you check is its location and connectivity, right?

Similarly, navigation and crawling ability play an important role in your site’s SEO.

It simply means the website should have a good structure (properly categorized) so that it is easy for both users and the search engine to understand what it contains.

And, as illustrated in the chart below, one should not have more than three levels of pages. In other words, site visitors should only have to click three times (at most) to find what they want.

How SEO Works Moz Infographic
Source: Moz

Below we list the three parts of technical SEO, including instructions on how to do each one.

Site map

A site map is a list of all the pages on your website and it helps Google index or ‘read’ your pages easily. Read this article to learn how to create an XML site map and submit it to Google Webmaster.

SSL certificate

Google has confirmed that the SSL certificate is a site ranking factor. In its attempt to provide the best service to its users, Google does not promote any website that does not protect their visitors’ data privacy.

If your site does not have SSL security, Google will label it “Not secure.”

You can check with your hosting service provider about getting an SSL certificate. It is easy and quick to enable. There are also free SSLs for those with technical skills.

Not sure if your website is protected by an SSL? Use this checker to find out.

Site speed and uptime

Site speed and uptime (the amount of time in a day the website is online and available) are amongst the most important factors of SEO.

If your site is down most of the time, then Google might even de-index your site if corrective measures are not taken in time. This is often a hosting issue, so be sure that your hosting provider guarantees at least 99.9% site uptime. If your current web host cannot make such a guarantee, consider switching to one that can.

You can check the speed of your website using this free tool and monitor the up and downtime of your site using this.

2. On-page SEO

How SEO Works On Page SEO
The second step is to add keywords to the text and photos on your web pages.

On-page SEO are the activities that are done on a particular web page to improve the ranking of that page for the desired keywords. The two main elements here are content and keywords.


Content (words, photos, videos etc.) is the backbone of on-page SEO.

Do you know what Google stands for?

To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Google is there to please people, to give them the best information available on the internet.

If you have sub-standard content, then no SEO technique can land you in the first position. Google will simply not award you that spot.

Backlinko’s Brian Dean explains the concept of Skyscraper technique here. This shows you the exact process of creating high-quality content.


Keywords play a major role in on-page site optimization. A keyword is a search term that people type into the search engine while looking for information.

For example, a mall owner in Delhi would use “malls in delhi” for their keyword. This is what people type in when looking for Delhi malls.

You can study how to find keywords and add them to your web pages in this article.

3. Off-page SEO

Off-page, SEO is all about links. Primarily there are two types of links: inbound and outbound.

When someone links to your website, that is an inbound link.

On the other hand, when you link to another website then it is an outbound link.

While both types of links matter to SEO, there are few points you need to keep in mind while applying inbound (aka backlinking) strategy to your website.

Credibility of site linking to yours

Always try to get inbound links from high-authority sites. It does you no good to be linked to dishonest or illegal websites. (The same goes for outbound links — only link to the websites that are respectable and have useful content.)

The best way to get backlinks is by earning them naturally. That happens when you create high-quality content that is shared and mentioned naturally.

Avoid dishonest methods

Indulging too much in blog commenting and getting links from forums can be taken as black hat technique and may result in a penalty.

There was a time when guest posting was considered the safest method of earning backlinks. People would post articles on others’ blogs (by invitation of course) and insert links to their own websites in their articles. Google has since issued a warning on this.

Now you know how SEO works

SEO is a slow process that takes time and effort. As you make changes to your website, search engines begin to recognise them and move it up in rankings — this is how SEO works.

The three-step process described here has been used by countless website owners to improve rankings, thereby increasing the number of people who find their websites. With time and effort, you can make SEO work just as well for you.