General Things to Know about SEO

Posted on April 06, 2016

Know the Basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Whether you plan to outsource your SEO or perform all SEO efforts in-house, understanding the basic mechanics behind SEO can help in knowing what questions to ask your marketing team and what the right SEO road map should be for your business.  There are many facets that make up the basics of SEO. This write-up summarizes the software construct which underpins Google’s search engine experience.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Summed up, Wikipedia defines SEO as the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s “natural”, un-paid or “organic” search results.  The higher the rank of a search result entry, the more frequently a site appears on the search results list, resulting in more visitors to a website or web page.

Targeted SEO focuses on manipulating specific types of search results, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific searches.  Heavy use of targeted SEO may be considered ‘Web Spamming’ or ‘Spamdexing’; further explained below.

The Mechanics of Google Search is a Zoo-like Collection of Software Algorithms

What is a algorithm?  An algorithm is a set of operations to perform calculations, data processing and automated reasoning.

How Google Employs Algorithms

Thousands of Google servers (also referred to as ‘Google bots’) comb webpages across Internet, record what they find and catalog the data (known as ‘Indexing’) so Google Search knows which webpage citations are most relevant for a particular search query.  Google employs many inter-dependent algorithms to accomplish webpage indexing and search results presentation.  The following Google Search algorithms are the most notable; and, all small businesses should be familiar with them.


Google Panda

First released in 2011.  This algorithm is aimed to lower the rank of ‘low-quality’ sites, also known as ‘thin sites’; and in return, raise the search engine rank of higher quality sites.  Although thin sites are designed and published within Google’s webmaster guidelines, Google considers the use of ‘thin sites’ as an unauthorized method to push competition off the 1st page.  This algorithm is frequently referred to as the ‘On-site Algorithm’, in reference to the quality of a website’s content.

Google Penguin

Google’s Penguin algorithm update was first announced in April, 2012.  This update is aimed at decreasing the rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines; a method now known as ‘black-hat’ SEO techniques.  These techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking or participating in link schemes.  Since this algorithm has a serious impact on page rank when it penalizes for low-quality or ‘spammy’ inbound links, it’s often referred to as the ‘Off-site Algorithm’.


Google Hummingbird

Announced in September, 2013, Google Hummingbird is Google’s ‘next generation’ engine for their search service.  Matt Cutts of Google stated that Hummingbird moves Search to the ‘next level’ with an engine that’s ‘quick and precise’.  Unlike  Penguin and Panda, which are add-on algorithms, Hummingbird is a complete revamp of the Google Search core.  Here’s how Hummingbird improves Google Search…

  • It leverages natural language technologies, similar to what we see with Apple’s Siri and Android’s Google Now services;
  • It uses ‘conversational intelligence’ when presented with long search queries to present results that have context; and,
  • It looks beyond one-dimensional keywords to sort and catalog pages, by referencing synonyms and specialty words used in niche topics.

Google Pigeon

Launched in 2014, Google’s Pigeon algorithm provides more useful search results by tying a users’ physical location to information that’s local and relevant.  For example, if a Google Search user located in California performs a search for ‘hamburger joints’, that user is more likely to be served an In-n-Out citation in the search results (because all of the In-n-Out restaurants are regionally located across the Western United States) than a Cook Out restaurant citation (which are prevalent across South Eastern United States).

Learn more about Pigeon with this 2015 Search Engine Land article.


In summary, spamdexing is search engine spam, aimed to manipulate the ranking of brands or business websites.  The following Wikipedia article describes the various methods of Spamdexing.

Why we Recommend WordPress

A few years back Matt Cutts, head of Google’s anti-spam team, endorsed WordPress because it takes care of 80-90% of the mechanics for SEO.  What Matt says here still holds true today.


Written by Peter La Fond

Having lived most of his life in Northern California, Peter consults for organizations of all sizes on Internet marketing engagement, strategy and execution. He regularly speaks on website design techniques and WordPress. Peter is a graduate from California State University, Sacramento, and practices the ancient art of eating sushi with nose-hair-curling wasabi.

About My Internet Scout

Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, My Internet Scout, LLC is an Internet Marketing firm for small- and medium- size businesses. We specialize in WordPress website design, marketing and related services that include e-commerce, event registration, maintenance, content creation and search engine optimization (SEO). We service a variety of clients across the United States.

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