What is SEO? How does it work

April 13, 2021 Abhay No Comments

In the broad sense, referencing is the act of referencing a thing (products in a store, information, files), that is to say of mentioning it in a system. On the internet, the term SEO has been used to define the action of registering a site on a search engine or a directory. The  SEO Internet  is not limited to the sites or web pages. We can indeed also reference images, documents (.doc, .pdf, .rar ..), videos, products, places or even applications.

Referencing necessarily goes through an indexing phase, during which a database is created. Referencing therefore also defines the action of registering something in a database so that it can then be found / consulted.

On the internet, there are two distinct types of SEO. The  listing says paying or sponsored (SEA)  and  referencing said natural or organic (SEO) . These two practices do not meet the same rules or the same needs.

An SEO strategy for a website can be done solely on the basis of SEO natural referencing or can combine the two practices if necessary. On the other hand, a referencing strategy intervening only on the technique of paid referencing is not viable in the long term. SEO is essential for the success and efficiency of your website.

We will detail the two types of web referencing while developing natural referencing in more detail: more important, larger and more complex.

Before going into details, it is necessary to visualize how the results indexed by search engines are presented to Internet users. We will take the example of the leader in Internet research: Google (more than 93% market share in France).

In most cases, this is what the web page a user will see after performing a search will look like. We can easily identify the presence of two types of referencing.

In the box in red, including the first links, we find the results of paid referencing. In the blue box, under the sponsored links, we find the results of natural referencing. Here, the presence of sponsored links indicates that companies have purchased these keywords to appear first on the results page. All searches do not necessarily have sponsored links, because some expressions are not exploited at all by companies (lack of interest or return on investment).

The results pages or SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) can also present much more data than that thanks to particular optimizations (product to buy online, place for a business,…). We recommend this  excellent infographic  from the Telegraph to observe a results page in all its complexity (the different modules have been combined on the same image, a results page will never present all this information at once).

Paid referencing says SEA

Definition of SEA

When we talk about  paid or sponsored referencing, we think of sponsored links or Google Ads campaigns (formerly Google AdWords). To appear in Google ads, you have to buy keywords at auction. The cost paid in this system is per click. That is to say that the site publishing its ad will pay the expected bid each time an Internet user clicks on the ad.

For example, if I place my bid at 2 € for the expression ”  seo agency  ” and that I am in the average bid for this keyword, when an Internet user performs the search “seo agency”, my ad will appear in the inserts reserved for sponsored links. If the user clicks on my ad (and only in this case) then I should pay the sum of € 2.

Why use paid search?

The price of a keyword can vary from a few cents to several tens of euros for a very competitive term. It is therefore very important to test and calculate its conversion rate and return on investment.

We generally set up a paid referencing strategy to:

  • E-commerce sites
  • Position your site very quickly
  • The launch of a new site that is still poorly referenced naturally
  • A special time of the year
  • Position yourself on very competitive research
  • Compensate for a bad position in the natural results

SEO says SEO

Definition of SEO

The  SEO refers to all the practices to make visible your website on a search engine (in the natural results). Having a good natural referencing requires a lot of time and technical knowledge to be set up. This is the reason why website editors generally use an SEO agency . The search engines index the files according to complex algorithms which determine their relevance and then bring out these files in a logical order when an Internet user performs a search. To stand out effectively on the search results page, it is therefore necessary to understand how this algorithm works in order to optimize the site accordingly.

The optimization is done at two levels:

  • On Site referencing  : these are the practices that take place directly on the site to be referenced. It includes the technical optimization  of the website, the optimization of the structure , the content optimization ..
  • Off-Site referencing  : these are practices occurring outside the site to be referenced, but with the aim of indirectly promoting its referencing. We mainly talk about  inbound link strategy , external links, netlinking or backlink acquisition. If sites B, C, D link to site A, the search engine’s algorithm will judge that site A is relevant because other sites mention it. Site A will thus improve its referencing. The more the sites making backlinks to your site are reputable sites, with a strong authority, the more their links will have a positive impact on the site A.

Why use paid search?

Unlike paid referencing and its immediacy, natural referencing is fundamental work that ensures  long-term positioning in Google search results. It is therefore essential for any website. Setting up the most beautiful store in the world when no one can find it is pointless.

Gain visibility on Google

The concept of SEO cannot be considered in isolation. It is inseparable from a capital notion: the notion of visibility .

If the notion of referencing defines the action of being referenced and therefore present in a database, the notion of visibility defines the capacity of the referenced thing to be found. This is an essential notion to always keep in mind when talking about SEO. Imagine a large store on 3 floors, your product is listed there, but at the end of an aisle on the third floor at ground level and in a single copy. You will agree that the usefulness of the thing is very reduced. While if your product is listed at the head of the gondola near the entrance of the department store, that’s a whole different story.

The Google SEO works in the same way. 3/4 of Internet users will not even visit the second page of search results. When you think of SEO, you must therefore think visibility with the objective of being present on the first page of search results for relevant keywords, related to your activity and your customers.


SEO is at the same time complex but also very simple, not displeasing to some. To properly reference your website, it is especially crucial to know these 5 commandments. How does SEO work? Let’s see that now.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization or SEO in French – is essential to attract visitors to your website since this is what will allow you to be visible on Google and other search engines.

But what is it concretely? And above all, how does SEO work?

You read will find a lot of things on the Internet. We often tell you that SEO is a very complex strategy to implement, that good SEO for your website requires very specific skills.

This is true, but only if you don’t fully follow the fundamentals of SEO, the rules dictated by Google.

If you naturally integrate the 5 commandments of SEO that I present to you in this article, you will benefit from a very interesting SEO.

As proof, these 5 commandments allow me to attract more than 50,000 visitors each month with SEO.

SEO works for everyone

The first thing to understand about how SEO works is that except in special cases, all websites are referenced on Google and other search engines.

What differs from one site to another is its position in the search engines.

Some websites are well positioned, others are invisible, positioned in the 2nd, 3rd and worst pages of search results.

But what explains these SEO differences?

It’s SEO and your skill at managing the following 5 commandments. Without these 5 commandments, you have no chance of ranking your website in the first Google results.

SEO, how does it really work? The 5 commandments:

SEO command # 1: reference each of your pages

This is the most important point to understand to understand how SEO works: it is not your website that is referenced but each of your pages.

The nuance here is very important because it means that you have to work the SEO of each of your pages in an exclusive way.

The keywords used must be specific to each of your pages. You must optimize each of the tags of your pages in an original way.

Too often I see websites that use the same Meta-Description tag, or worse the same Title tag, for all of their pages.

SEO doesn’t work like that.

This page, I want to reference it on the keyword “SEO how it works”. Next to it, I have another page that I want to optimize on the keyword ” how to properly reference your website “.

So I work my SEO in a different way on these two pages. And these like that for the hundreds of pages of my website.

This is all the more important given that Google made the decision in 2019 to only reference one page of a website on the first page of search results.

In other words, if all your pages are designed to be referenced on the keyword “Computer assistance”, when an Internet user types this keyword on Google, he will see at best only one of the pages of your website.

The other important point here to understand how SEO works is that the more pages you have on your website, the more likely you are to be well referenced and therefore to attract qualified visitors.

It is not for nothing that the best referenced websites are Wikipedia, Amazon …

SEO commandment # 2: think like the internet user

To properly reference your website, it is essential to put yourself in the shoes of the Internet user.

Indeed, in the end, it is he who will have to be convinced, and not Google! Finally no: you will have to convince Google by seducing the Internet user.

Google only highlights the pages that provide a relevant response to Internet users’ requests. Its credibility is at stake.

How does SEO work? Ultimately, it’s very simple: Google analyzes the quality of your page and the behavior of Internet users on it to decide on the position at which it will reference it.

To fully understand how SEO works, you must first understand that by typing their request, the Internet user expects to find an answer (THE answer!) To his question while the search engine simply displays the pages containing the terms of this query.

Concretely :

When the Internet user enters “How to write a cover letter”, he expects to find methods to write his letter (or examples for a quick copy / paste!).

You may well be well referenced on the search “Methods to write a cover letter” and be the best expert in the field, you will have no chance of helping this user since you will not even appear in the results of his research: “How to write a cover letter”!

Do you see the nuance?

To have a chance to rank well on this search, your page must be optimized around the keyword “how to write a cover letter” and not “method to write a cover letter”.

This is an essential nuance to grasp to fully understand how SEO works.

But beware :

If, conversely, you have seduced (tempted?) Google on ”  How to write a cover letter  ” but your page does not give any advice on this subject, the Internet user will leave your site as quickly as he arrived there. …

The keywords must be related to the content of the page to properly reference it.

Because if Internet users leave immediately, this will send a bad signal to Google which will immediately degrade the referencing of your page.

And in any case, you have no interest in fooling Google with these SEO methods because if Internet users leave as they came, you will not generate any revenue and any commitment.

SEO commandment # 3: think long tail keywords

In France, a search on Google contains an average of 4 words. This is called a long tail search.

This is essential to take into account in your SEO strategy.

How does SEO work? What keywords are used to rank your website well? I answer long tail!

The interest of the long tail is very easy to understand.

Type “Men’s shirt” on Google and see the number of results found. Now enter “Men’s short-sleeved shirt”.

According to you, on which expression will you have the most chances of correctly referencing your internet? Which of these queries is the least competitive at SEO level?

Another interesting thing for your turnover: between an Internet user looking for “Men’s shirt” and the other “Mao collar linen men’s shirt”, which is the closest to a purchase? The second still has a very strong idea of ​​what he is looking for!

The long tail therefore has two advantages for your SEO: long tail keywords are less competitive and they allow you to be visible to Internet users who are the most engaged in their purchase thinking .

You can couple this command with the 1st.

To fully exploit the functioning of SEO, it is more effective to reference multitudes of pages on different long-tail keywords rather than to mobilize all your resources to reference your website on a generic keyword.

This is all the more important for the SEO of your website as a buyer or a decision maker enters an average of 12 different searches on Google before making their purchasing decision.

SEO Commandment # 4: Optimize Your Conversion Rate

One of my clients recently told me of his dissatisfaction following a drop in his number of visits over the last quarter of more than 5%… Certainly!

But its turnover over this period has all the same climbed by more than 15%, which is rather gratifying, isn’t it?

We actually had to work on the SEO of his website in such a way as to attract more qualified traffic. Because that’s what SEO is ultimately about.

As we have seen above, the important thing is not to make the Internet user come but to convince him and make him stay in order to achieve your ends: a sale, a request for a quote, a registration to the newsletter etc …

It is essential for natural referencing.

First, because an Internet user who stays on your website and visits other pages is a good signal for Google. This commitment has a big impact on SEO.

Then because it is your profitability.

For SEO to work and generate return on investment, it is therefore essential to integrate it into a more global web marketing strategy: Inbound Marketing.

SEO commandment # 5: be regular and patient

But how does SEO work?

If you are asking yourself this question, it may be because you have implemented actions but have not seen any improvement in the SEO of your website.

SEO is a long term business and it is essential to work on your SEO regularly to see results.

The rules of the SEO game are constantly changing, with Google updating its algorithm several thousand times each year.

It is essential to adapt yourself, to follow the positions of your pages in the search engines to improve yourself or to anticipate a drop in traffic.

Because if SEO works for you, SEO also works for your competitors.

So you can be sure that if you improve your SEO and get past them, they will react to avoid a loss of revenue.

Finally, to your question “How SEO works”, I will tell you that the answer is constantly evolving. However, these 5 commandments will always remain the fundamentals of natural referencing.

The reason is quite simple: they guarantee Google that the results it offers to Internet users meet their expectations.

To fully understand how SEO works, you just need to position yourself on Google’s side to understand its interests. If you serve them, your website will always rank well.

How does SEO work? The practical and (free!) Tool

With this free SEO tool, all you have to do is enter your website address and click on analyze to identify areas for improvement to be followed in order to optimize your SEO.

For each of the points presented, you get an explanation of the concept and the reasons why it is important to work on it.

What is the use of optimizing my SEO? Is SEO Important?

The question is a bit obvious. The more you optimize your SEO, the more people you will have on your website, so the better able you will be to sell your products and services.

An improvement in your SEO translates directly into an increase in income. So yes, SEO is important. I would go so far as to say that all companies should make efforts to optimize their SEO. It is something essential.

No matter the size of the business, the #SEO is essential.

Here are 4 things to avoid for good SEO.

Sometimes, by wanting to do well, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot. You have to be careful when designing your website so as not to displease Google, Yahoo and Bing! Here are the 5 common things to avoid in order to have a good SEO.


You like your friend’s site and decide to link them in your site’s sidebar. It is a very common practice and, at first glance, harmless.

However, Google may interpret this link as a paid link! Strange isn’t it? Well, his doubts come from the fact that it is a site-wide link , that is to say that it is present on all the pages of the website.

A bond like this doesn’t hurt, but if you accumulate too much, it can heat you up!

The best example I can give is that of the links placed by agencies in “designed by X” footers.

The best way to keep this kind of link in place is to put a rel = “nofollow” attribute on them. This tag tells Google not to transfer authority to this link (thus avoiding penalties).

<a href= “# “rel= “no-follow “> Anchor Text </a>


When you create a site in WordPress, your site may have been set to NoIndex by default.

I made the mistake while uploading my new website and experienced a huge drop in organic traffic . 100% of my site disappeared from the search engines for a week. Unfortunately for me, Google accounts for 80% of my traffic!


Before, like in 1995, the more repetitions of words you had on your page, the more Google was going to think the page was relevant to those words.

The search engine has become much more sophisticated and penalizes pages where it judges that the person has overused a phrase.

Rather, it promotes linguistic diversity and the use of co – occurrences .

If you’re talking about marketing, he’s going to take an interest in what top marketing pros are saying on the web, and build a lexicon out of all of their work.

The idea is that, if you are a pro, you should use the same language level as the pros, and that means not repeating the same phrase every two sentences!

Unfortunately, the myth of keyword density still persists!


Sometimes the links that we have created on our website die. This causes the person to click on the link and end up on a beautiful 404 page, that is to say on a page that no longer exists.

Google does not like when a site is full of dead links since it judges that it is bad for the visitor experience.

So if Google doesn’t like it, you don’t! Clean up your site once in a while.

You can use the Google Webmaster Tool or a tool like the Online Broken Link Checker .


Do you remember when you were taking your high school exam? You were in the classroom subtly trying to look over Sally’s copy to copy her answers.

We lower our head a little, we use our hand to seem to think (but in fact, we hide our gaze from the teacher) and we try to capture as many words as possible using our peripheral vision .

Well, unfortunately for you, Google is a tad smarter than your high school teacher, who was obviously too busy reading her gossip magazine to watch her class of exam students.

If Google catches you with duplicate content, it may decide to push your site hyper far in the results, and potentially, de-index it entirely.

The solution? Do not do it! Have a good content strategy and create unique and relevant articles.

Here are 5 ways to improve SEO.

SEO isn’t just a list of dos and don’ts. There are plenty of methods to improve your SEO. Here is a short list:


Although you should not stuff your site with keywords, you still need to optimize for terms and expressions sought on the web.

The easiest way to find out which queries are the most searched is to use Google’s auto-suggestion.

To take this article even as an example, I know that if I’m able to get to the first page for “what is SEO”, I’m going to have a hundred additional clicks per day. However, the other 3 queries are also relevant! And are among the co-occurrences discussed earlier. So using all of these expressions as well as close variations all over the page (mainly in the title and the h1, h2, h3 tags) makes sure I’m relevant to Google, without sacrificing the readability of the page. ‘article.

You can also use the related searches that appear at the bottom of the search page:

Personally, I use KeyWordTool.io . This is a tool that extracts all the variations of Google’s auto-suggestion.


Google takes the click-through rate into account when it ranks you in search engines. So writing good headlines is essential!

Both links lead to the same place, and yet one of the two is much more likely to be clicked (I’ll let you guess which one!) . In addition, nice URLs let the visitor know the context of the page on the site.


Google also takes into account the statistics of engagement with your website. So if your link has a good click-through rate, but bad engagement stats, they’ll judge the content as not living up to the title and that it was a clickbait .

In order for people to read your texts, make sure you have your text written in black and white, at least 16px in font, and that it is no more than 70 characters per line.

We must also calculate the row height to prevent our text from being stuck in bread.

When you find great typography on the web, you can use FontFaceNinja to quickly find out what fonts and settings are being used.

Stay away from fonts that are too complex for body text. Personally, I love using Open Sans , Roboto , Lato, and Ubuntu .

For more design tips, I have a little, simple article called 3 Easy Tips for More Effective Design .


The most important metric for showing up in search engines is the amount of links pointing to your domain name.

Not all links are created equal and some links will benefit you more than others. I won’t go into the technical details, but I will still give you some recommendations regarding “best practices” for link acquisition.

First, if your website is new, it’s a good idea to list it in 20 or so site directories .

It’s not a method that works as well as it used to, but I still think it gives a good base.

You have to be a little careful with the repertoire you choose, some have been penalized (and that gives you a bad rep). On the other hand, most French-speaking repertoires are still good!

Then every time you do a press release for your business, be sure to include a few links in it.

The reporter may take them down, so try to link in a context where having the link is essential for the reader to understand the story.