On a wet and cold afternoon, in front of a poor crowd of less than 35,000, the Cats dominated the early stages, opening a 35-point lead at the 20-minute mark of the second quarter.
The Tigers, who didn't kick their first goal until 22 minutes into the second term, then rediscovered the play-on style of footy that was so successful last year, closing to within six points early in the last quarter.
But Chris Scott's men weathered the storm and held on to win 11.15 (81) to 12.4 (76).
Richmond had its chances in the dying stages but never really looked like winning, with the Tigers' last goal coming on the final siren.
It was the Cats' sixth win from seven matches this season and ensures they keep pace with ladder leaders Hawthorn and Port Adelaide.
"It wasn't a cracking game by any stretch, from our perspective, but it still had to be won," Scott said.
"I know it was close towards the end, but it felt to us that we had control of the game, we just couldn't quite finish them off."
Star defender Harry Taylor, who did a great job on Ty Vickery, was among Geelong's heroes in a pressure-packed finish.
Youngster Jordan Murdoch also rose to the occasion, running down Nick Vlastuin and snapping a brilliant goal that brought Richmond's charge to a halt.
"Murdoch is making a habit of doing something special late in games when the scores are close," Scott added. "That's a nice characteristic to have."
Taylor, Jimmy Bartel, Steve Johnson and Corey Enright were the Cats' best performers over four quarters, while Murdoch and fellow midfielders Mitch Duncan and Taylor Hunt booted two goals each.
Joel Selwood was held to just 10 disposals in the first three quarters by Shaun Grigg and Brett Deledio, but he lifted when it mattered most, gathering nine touches and kicking a goal in the final term.
Dashing half-forward Steven Motlop gathered 16 disposals in his first game for the season, while big man Tom Hawkins was well held by David Astbury, with the big Cat managing only three behinds on a day when the conditions didn't help his cause.
Astbury's job was made much easier by the return of fellow key defender Alex Rance, who was playing his first game since round one.
Rance was used as a loose man for much of the evening and produced a performance that was full of courage and endeavour.
But a high bump that he laid on Selwood during the third quarter is likely to attract the attention of the Match Review Panel.
Ruckman Shaun Hampson was another solid performer for the Tigers, while Reece Conca played his best game for the season and Deledio, back in the side after a month on the sidelines with an Achilles injury, provided some much-needed dash.
"I thought we controlled the ball pretty well. We probably over-used it at stages, but I thought our intensity and effort was good."
But for all that, Richmond, which hasn't beaten Geelong since 2006, is now 2-5 and its finals prospects look shot.
Both the Tigers and Cats have a bye next weekend.