SEO in Plain Language: What does SEO mean? What are examples of SEO?

2018-06-13T17:36:16+00:00 March 1st, 2017|

There is a lot of confusion around the subject of Search Engine Optimization, and I hope to help out the Internet by having the audacity to speak about a technical subject in plain language.

Also, this 8-blog series is my attempt to never talk about SEO again.  We have some very exciting new stuff to talk about (wait for it in Part 8), but let’s get the fundamentals of SEO in place first.

  1. What does SEO stand for?
  2. What are examples of how you optimize a website for search engines?
  3. When I hire someone to build my website, will they optimize our website for search engines?
  4. How long does it take to see evidence that your SEO is actually working?
  5. Once you are on Page 1 of Google Search Results, do you stay there?
  6. Tell me more about keywords and key phrases. Shouldn’t this be super obvious?
  7. How has SEO changed since it became a thing? (This is important. Thank you for asking!)
  8. Where are we in 2017? Where will we be in 5 years? (Hint: Inbound Marketing)

Also, for this blog series, I’ll be using some fun futuristic graphics inspired by the 198os and the early days of computing. I’m doing this because every other SEO image on the Internet is confusing and boring. So at least these graphics will be confusing and exciting.

What does SEO stand for?

S-E-O stands for Search Engine Optimization. (Don’t ever sound it out as see-oh. Just say the letters.)  SEO is a list of extra work that you have to do to make sure that the website that you built is optimized for search engines Google.  This way your website rank higher in the Google’s organic search results. The ultimate prize is to show up on Page 1 so your future customers can find you when they search for solutions to their problems.

What are examples of how you optimize a website for search engines?

Most of the search engine optimization is done within the code of your website. So it’s a bit abstract when you try to explain it to people. But here are seven SEO examples that are more concrete:

  1. Your Homepage – Should be informative, explain what you do, where you are, and who you help.
  2. URLs – Have informative URLs like instead of
  3. Accurate Image Names – Never add an image to your website with a generic name like company-logo-dark.jpg. Instead, try smithHOUSE-Phoenix-Design-Agency.jpg. Also, don’t forget to to title your images within the code.
  4. Headings – Page content should be organized like an outline so that Google can recognize the subject matter of your website. So on pages and blog posts, you have one page title (in the code, this is called an H1), a few subtitles (H2), and maybe even a sub-sub-title (called an H3). Some web designers get lazy and use multiple H1’s on each page, which is silly. Why would a page have more than one title? Or they don’t use any heading tags at all. All of this signals to Google that you don’t know what you are doing.
  5. Sitemap – Does Google know where to find your .XML sitemap?
  6. Keywords, Key Phrases – Throughout your website, use keywords and key phrases that real people search for on Google. (More on this later!)
  7. Domain Extension – If you are an American company, it will be easier to climb the ranks with a .com, .net, or .org.  Don’t use a domain extension from another country.For example, this very website you are on right now used to be called, because it was clever and cool. Unfortunately, .se is from Sweden, and it was taking too long for Google to recognize that we a design agency based in Phoenix, Arizona. So we switched to It’s not as tight, but we’ve done better with this domain extension.

There are many other examples of optimizing your website, but this helps you get an idea of what SEO really looks like.

Next time in the blog: “When I hire someone to build my website, will they optimize our website for search engines?

About the Author:

Matt Smith, MBA
Matt Smith is the creative force behind smithHOUSE, a Phoenix-based creative agency that focuses on the intersection of business, design, and technology. About Matt Smith.