What is SEO – simple non technical explanation

What is SEO – simple non technical explanation

Seo is one of those mysterious topics like Bitcoin, everyone has a definition and understanding of what it is, but 90% of the definitions out there are incomplete.

Most people will define SEO as – Search Engine Optimisation, the practice of getting your website to appear on top of google searches. Although this is a correct definition, it is incomplete. Appearing on top of a google search is not the whole story, we need to know how you appeared and that you appeared to the right audience.

I will demonstrate what seo is in an image:

what is seo

Above is a google search for iPhone 11. At the very top the red block highlights all the paid google shopping advertising. The second block is paid for google search advertising. Below that is the organic listings and where we want to appear.

Seo is – the behind-the-scenes work web designers do, to ensure that your website appears at the top of the organic search bar. The advertisers will always appear before everyone else, because they pay to appear there.

Appearing at the top of the search bar can drive traffic to your website, increasing your popularity and driving sales and page views.


So how do companies get there?

I will give you a hint with another picture.



I did another search for ‘pens” and as you can see, websites appear. This time, there is no advertising, no one is trying to sell pens online – makes sense. I highlighted every-time the word pen appears in the highlighted text google shows you. What you see here is:

  1. The website title
  2. The website description

These are two important ‘meta’ tags from a website that helps google search algorithm understand what the website is about. Therefore as i searched for pens, google found websites that talk about “pens” and google knows this because these websites have “pens” all over the description and probably the text in the website as well.


Key words

Therefore the number one most important aspect to appearing top on a google search is: the right keyword. In this case pens. Pens happened to be the exact words I typed in to google. One mistake most non-seo developers make, is choosing the wrong keywords. Like for example, a stationery shop might choose “stationery suppliers” as a keyword, but people actually google for pens – so they miss the majority of googlers who don’t type in “stationery suppliers” as a search term.

So think of keywords as: what are people typing in to the search bar. It could be “free pens” or “black pens” – then you want to use that key-word in designing your website to help google understand that your website is all about “black pens”

But everyone is selling pens

This is why we need SEO. If we could just write our keywords in to the description and meta tags, it would be so easy to rank top. The problem usually is – the other 10000 people also selling pens, also trying to rank on top of google for pens and how you can – in a way outrank them.

So let us break it down in to simple steps:

Keyword research and planning

This is a thing, and most probably the most important step in any SEO project. We wrote an article on Google Adwords, and discussed briefly about cost of advertising. The cost of advertising is closely linked to the keywords. Using the Google Keywords Planner – you can easily enter a list of suggested keywords and get their level of competition and cost.

The competition is how many people are using that keyword, the cost is how much those people are willing to appear at the top of the list for that keyword. You will also get the number of monthly searches for a particular keyword.

What you want to do here is: get those keywords that have high search volumes and low competition. You will be surprised, they exist in most industries. I will give you an example: at the time of writing this article:

I did a keyword search on ecommerce, e-commerce and woocommerce. Both woocommerce and ecommerce have the same monthly search volume, but woocommerce has low competition.

google keyword planner

This means the same number of people search for the word woocommerce as ecommerce, but more advertisers and websites have the keyword ecommerce. So you will reach more people if you used woocommerce because the traffic will be split between fewer competitors.


Everyone does keyword planning?

Probably not, but most self-respecting SEO experts do, this gives you an edge only up to a point. ultimately one of the most important thing you need for good SEO is:

Page loading speed

Yes, page loading speed is crucial to the google search algorithm. When all else is equal, google will choose the page that loads faster. Users want pages that load fast and will even abandon certain pages when they don’t load fast enough.  You page has to load fast on mobile as well, be optimised for mobile, with no pictures cutting off etc. Basic good web programming – is necessary for good SEO.


I have done all this, why am I still not ranking?

Authority – google wants to serve content that is useful to people. So are people talking about your website? Google wants to know that other websites like your website, and they show that by linking back to your website. This is referred to as back-linking, linkage building – different variations of the work links.

Simply put, everyone does the basics – but to drive your page to the top, you need other websites to link to your website. You can do that by:

  • Getting interviewed on podcasts and adding your links
  • Sharing your links on comments from other authority sites
  • Writing blogs on other sites (guest writing) and leaving your links
  • Linking pages on your own site
  • Getting articles, news, blogs to link to your website


It should be noted any link-building exercise is futile if you have not optimised your page speeds and keywords, that is the foundation – linking is simply the turbo-charge on top of the normal engine.


The power of good blogging should not be under-estimated. Blogging is not something that is reserved for bloggers, travellers and food-lovers.

If you are a doctor, you can pull a lot of clients in if you take 1hr a week to write to people about interesting topics like “early warning signs of covid”, “how to avoid flu this season”. I bet you that you have a higher likelihood of reaching that person who googled “how to avoid flu this season” that you have to reach the person who searches for “doctor near me” – why? because all the other doctors are targeting that keyword, there is even a website called doctorsnearme.co.za. 

So that person who found your website using a blog has already been tagged by google, next time they google doctor, you have a higher chance of appearing at the top, because they have visited your site before.

Also – they might just like your content so much, they subscribe to your newsletter and guess who they will call the next time they need a doctor?

So add a blog to your site, if it is really good – your entire website will be the better for it.

Good content

Finally just produce good content, people will return to websites that have great content and that are helpful and Google will rank you higher if people spend more time on your site and return often.

Think like a machine, google will think – this must be an amazing website, people stay here longer, keep coming back – let me recommend it to more people 😀


If you agree with us, let us know in the comments below. Good self respecting comments please, no sneaking in of links etc.

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