SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ and is the art of being able to encourage a website to come up sooner in any results of an online search engine that people type in for a particular phrase. You hear other references like becoming ‘the top of Google’, or ‘better rankings’ or an ‘optimised site’ – they’re all along the same lines and a principle that the majority of people now heard of.
So if someone is looking for a plumber in the Birmingham area, people often head straight over to a search engine like Google and type in a phrase like “plumbers in Birmingham” to find out what websites comes up. It can be evidently profitable for businesses and website operators to have this popularity, hence the evolution of a whole different ‘SEO’ industry within website design and internet marketing world.
In terms of the search engines used, Google is of course the daddy of them all. Although there are others like Yahoo and Bing, these are no way close to the popularity of Google. Plus, if you crack it on Google anyway then you’ll naturally be doing it on others as well.

How SEO Works

In terms of how SEO works, it’s actually supposed to be more normal and natural than what you think, and any company that tries to make it more secretive is not providing the full truth. 
It’s also more unpredictable than what you think, in that no one can categorically say with 100% certainty what will make you succeed, simply because Google itself hasn’t given you the full blue-print. If they did, then everyone would just be churning things out automatically. 
However you can resort to good tried and tested factors that will help, and what Google wants to be very natural rather than too contrived and forced, and without you needing to fall into uncertain ‘black hat’ SEO territory where things steer away from Google’s terms and conditions and what is fair.
So these 4 aspects are foundational and will stand you in good stead. Even though you might not have a SEO priority now, it’s still worth noting anyway. It boils down to common sense and easy-wins as part of your natural website design process, and therefore you may as well begin correctly and simply build on this in the future if needs be.

The Organic Search Results 

Search engine results in this SEO context is all about what they call ‘organic’ search results in Google, whereas there are two other forms of results in any results-page. 
One of these are paid adverts, known as Adwords with Google and other names within other search engines, where people are paying to have their results appear at the top. 
The second is a reference to actual real-life businesses or organisations in the form of a red flag on a map or separate listing, see here for more details on this.

The 4 Main Factors

So here are the main factors to consider when giving your website a steer in the SEO direction:

1.  Get Your Website Set-up In The Right SEO Way

Sometimes referred to ‘as site’ SEO, this is adding certain things to the actual website to basically give Google the right signals as to what you want it to come up for in certain searches. 
Many years ago this was open to abuse by people and being able to trick Google to think that the website was about one subject when in actual fact it wasn’t, whereas nowadays Google has wised up and can spot phonies. You therefore don’t need to go over the top, just to the point and fair in order to give Google the right signals and bread-crumb trails for when their Google crawlers come searching over your website.
The main influence is using the right words, and being able to add these in the correct places. These are often referred to as ‘meta’ information as it’s the words that Google focused more on, and generally is found in page titles, ‘meta descriptions’ for Google searches (although more for informing visitors themselves), and then within actual pieces of writing and important headlines. 
The core words are ‘keywords’ and ‘keywords phrases’, so if you’re a plumber in Birmingham then these may include “plumber in Birmingham” or “plumbers Birmingham” which basically match what people are actually typing into Google.
Amazingly there are tools to tell you what these actually are, and years ago people misused this and did ‘keyword stuffing’ on their website by over-using them, but now the focus is on just naturally including in the right places, and making sure that any natural variations and additional words are used. So Google has almost become a dictionary and thesaurus as well, in that it can spot if you’re a potential good website by using technical words like “pipes”, “boilers”, or “valves” in your website about plumbers in Birmingham.
The other aspect is general website structure, so having the best navigation and menus, adding a site map, using images with the right labels, and using internal links between pages with appropriate words. These all paint a picture to a genuine website that is providing the right SEO signals.

2.  Get Your Website Performing Well

This used to be part of the above point, but nowadays is a different aspect in itself that people may miss; it’s so blatantly obvious yet so easily assumed to have nothing to do with SEO. It’s simply having a website that is genuinely helpful and used by people. 
Because Google can track use and data on websites, then it spots when it is popular with figures out stats like who has visited, on what pages, for how long, and then how quickly they left the website otherwise known as the Bounce Rate.
So although the focus on SEO is about first attracting visitors, you need to quickly make sure they like your website and hang around in order to filter signals back to Google with positive vibes for your SEO success as well.

3.  Get Links and Citations With Other Websites

Google wants to see your website well connected with other websites in virtual world, as this is like a vote of confidence in the internet. The classic form is a mention of a website’s domain name on another website known as a ‘link’, with activities like ‘link building’ focussing on better quality and authority websites linking back to your website. It’s even better if the link itself can have the right phrases and be positioned in the right place on the website, and the secret here is quality not quantity.
Another similar connection is a Citation, particularly for real businesses with a real-life postal address and contact details. This is simply reference to this name and contact details around on the website, including without any links, which Google can pick up on and give credit for. So if there’s lots of good citations for a company called “ABC Plumbing” at 123 Any Road, Birmingham B1 2BC, then that is a good SEO signal for that business.

4.  Publish Regular and Beneficial Updates

The final piece of the jigsaw is keeping things fresh and updated as an ongoing exercise, and will become more important in the future in order to see real website that naturally attract interest and activity and not just static virtual dinosaurs. This is primarily the website itself, whether a regular blog or news section, new articles and pages, improved content and images.
It’s also important to see updates on the rest of the internet, and connected with the above point on links as well. Two examples of this include social media activity, although not as directly SEO beneficial as you may think, and also general reviews and updates that people make to your website online.  

Plotting Your Own SEO Strategy

Therefore as you embark on SEO for your website, keep things simple and go through the above four aspects in the same order. Begin with getting the actual website right in terms of the hidden SEO format and then good actual use, before then looking at how you will interact with other websites for links and connections and implement a process of genuine and regular website and internet updates.
With careful monitoring, how this will actually change your website’s popularity in search engines can be fine tuned and built upon in the future and you will soon be on the right track.