In this article, I’ll answer the question, “What Is SEO / Search Engine Optimization?”
But I’ll go a step further than just the definition and meaning.
I’ll also explain why it’s important and how it can help your blog or website.
The goal is to help you understand how search engine optimization works and how you can do it to improve your website visibility in the search engines like Google, Bing, etc.
What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of ranking a website on a search engine results page (SERP) to increase website visibility and to get organic traffic from search engines like Google, Bing, etc when people search for queries, words, products, services, etc, that are related to your business.
It’s a technique of increasing website traffic (visitors) and brand awareness through organic (“non-paid”) search results.
Search engine optimization is about finding out what people are searching on the Internet, what answers they are looking for, what words they use, and what type of content they want to consume.
Knowing the answers to these questions can help you connect with the people who are searching the Internet for the solutions you have to offer.
Understanding the audience’s purpose is one side of the SEO coin, the other is presenting it in such a way that search engine crawlers can find and understand the content on your website.
For example: When someone searches for “pasta” on Google, they’re probably looking for a recipe, ingredients, and instructions on how to cook it.
If you’ve published an article about it, you want people to find your pasta recipe.
In order for people to find your website, your article must rank above all other pasta recipe websites.
The ranking process is not easy, but that’s what SEO is all about.
Because organic search is the most popular way for people to find and access content online, having an effective SEO strategy in place is crucial for improving the quality and quantity of visitors to your website.
The higher your website pages appear in search results, the more likely you are to draw attention and bring in new and existing customers to your business.
How Does SEO Work?
Search engines like Google, Bing, and others use highly complex and sophisticated algorithms to organize and rank content.
They have slightly different protocols and formulas that they use to derive their ranking factors or signals.
Search engines collect digital content and organize it into result pages using their complex algorithms.
The ultimate goal is for the users to be happy with the search engine results page (SERP).
To understand how search engine optimization works, we must first understand how search engines work.
Users can access and use various search engines on the internet.
To keep things simple, I’ll talk about Google, which is the most popular search engine in the market.
Google works in three phases:
1. Crawling: Google uses its bots (which we used to refer to as “spiders”) to explore and search the internet for new or updated website content/pages. When there are more links on a page, Google finds it easier to find it.
2. Indexing: After that, Google checks the URLs that the bots find and tries to figure out what the website is about. Many factors are essential here, but the most important are content, photos, and other media assets. This information is then saved in Google’s index. To ensure that everything is properly indexed in the first two steps, you’ll also need to do technical SEO.
3. Serving: This is the moment when the magic happens. After examining URLs, Google decides which sites are most relevant to a user’s search query and organizes them appropriately in the search engine results page (SERPs).
Major search engines like Google, Bing, etc, use bots to crawl and explore the web, going from site to site, collecting information, and indexing it.
You can think of the index as a large library where a librarian can bring in a book (or a web page) to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
The algorithms then analyze the websites and their web pages in the index, using hundreds of ranking criteria or signals, to determine the order in which they should appear in search results for a given query.
In my library example, the librarian has read each book in the library and can recommend the best book for your needs.
Our SEO success factors can be viewed as a proxy for user experience attributes.
This is how search engine bots evaluate the ability of a website to deliver relevant information to the users that they are looking for.
Unlike paid search advertisements, you can’t pay search engines to get a better ranking in organic search results.
SEO experts must put in the hard work.
Content quality and keyword research are important aspects of content optimization, while crawlability and speed are important aspects of the site architecture and layout.
If you optimize your website and content with these factors in mind, your web pages will rank higher in search results.
The only purpose of the search algorithm is to bring out relevant, authoritative sites and provide instant and effective search results for users.
What Is The Importance Of SEO?
Below are the reasons why SEO is important.
1. Ranking And Visibility.
Organic search results are important because they are free listings of web pages on search engine result pages (SERPs) that search engines have identified as most relevant to the user’s query.
Users are more likely to choose one of the top five search engine results when searching for something like a service or product online.
As SEO increases your website’s ranking and visibility in search engine results, the chances of users clicking on your website and converting to the sales increase.
Ads (also known as PPC or Pay-Per-Click ads) occupy a large portion of many SERPs.
Unlike sponsored search results, organic search results are ranked by the search engine’s organic ranking algorithm rather than ad bids.
There’s no way to pay search engines to rank better in organic search results.
2. Website Traffic.
Getting free organic traffic to your website is a big advantage of search engine optimization.
If potential buyers can’t find your website, you’re missing out on opportunities to make a sale.
SEO increases organic search engine traffic, which increases the number of daily visits to your website.
Because the more relevant people who visit your website, the more likely you will be able to sell to them, resulting in more sales.
SEO provides both quality traffic and quantity of traffic to your website.
1. Quality Of Organic Traffic: The quality of organic traffic depends on how relevant a user’s search query is to your site’s content.
Only visitors who are interested in the items, information, or other resources provided by your site are considered high-quality traffic.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works by matching user search intent to SERP web pages.
2. Quantity Of Organic Traffic: The number of people finding your site through organic search results.
Users are more likely to click on the search results that appear at the top of the search engine results page.
That’s why it’s important to optimize your SEO strategy to rank relevant sites as high as possible.
The more high-quality visitors you bring to your site, the more likely you are to see an increase in significant conversions.
The better your SEO score, the higher you will rank on search engines like Google, Bing, etc.
While ranking higher and increasing visibility on search engines is beneficial to all companies, a secondary benefit lies in building trust with potential customers.
Users rely on search engine recommendations, so better rankings for phrases a person searches for will promote your website and products or services and strengthen trustworthiness in the eyes of the user.
4. User Experience.
A well-optimized site clearly describes the product or service being offered, how to get it, and answers any queries related to it.
By catering a website to increase the user’s experience, search engines like Google, Bing, etc, can more easily find and pull the information they need.
If a user has trouble browsing and navigating your website, chances are that search engines do as well.
Undoubtedly, SEO is vital to the success and growth of your business.
As stated earlier, the higher you rank on search engines for a range of high-volume keywords, the more organic traffic your website will receive.
SEO helps website owners to make money online.
A well SEO optimized website will bring in more visitors and make more sales.
After finding your website through a search engine, people are more likely to share it on other social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram.
What Are The Types Of SEO?
Below are different types of SEO you can start with:
1. On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing the content on your site for search engines.
This can include website content, keywords, headers, meta titles, meta descriptions, pictures, videos, etc.
Here are some tips for on-page SEO:
1. Keyword Research: Determine the words and phrases you want to rank for on search engines. Do some keyword research to see which words and terms have the most relevance and search traffic. Also, consider choosing words with low competition. Once you have identified the best keywords, be sure to inform your writing staff so that they can include them in the web page content as they write.
2. Optimize Metadata: Metadata informs Google and other search engines about the content of a page. Ensure that your meta title and meta description include relevant information and keyword phrases in order to improve your ranking. It’s also worth noting that Google rewrites our metadata with other content on the page from time to time, so make sure the entire page is optimized.
3. Internal Linking: Internal links are URLs on your web page that direct people to other pages on your site. These are often attached to the anchored text. To help Google understand your site and to make it more user-friendly, insert links on target keywords in your content and link to your main web pages.
Incorporating on-page SEO into your marketing activities helps search engines understand your website’s content.
And once Google has a good understanding of your website, it can reward you by showing it to related search queries that it considers relevant.
2. Off-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Off-page search engine optimization is everything that happens outside of your website.
It is all about creating exposure and credibility to your business, resulting in more visitors and sales.
Most off-page SEO efforts are focused on link building.
Link building is the practice of getting your links back to your website from other trusted websites.
Here are some of the best link-building strategies:
1. Pitching Articles: Many blogs and online magazines will accept and publish the content you pitch to them. Ensure that the website is related to your work and includes a link to your website, but also ensure that you do pay money in order to do so.
2. Competitor Research: Check the backlink profiles of your biggest competitors. Find out where they get their links from and which websites will allow a hyperlink back to your website.
3. Helping Reporters: There are a lot of online services where journalists request insights from some industry experts. This is where you enter the picture! If you provide a quote or information about your area of expertise, they will most likely include a link back to your site in their articles.
Ensure that your acquired backlinks were earned, they came from reliable sources, they bring in quality traffic, they are “follow” links, and they are from related and relevant websites!
3. Technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Technical SEO refers to the steps taken to help search engines crawl your website and improve user experience.
As search engines and their algorithms become more and more complex, these requirements change means that technical SEO is constantly changing and evolving.
Your technical SEO efforts should be practical and efficient to ensure that there are no issues with crawability and user experience.
Here are some of the best Technical SEO strategies:
1. Website Speed: A faster website is usually better, and Google recently added several load time variables to be ranking signals. Make your templates as simple as possible, limit redirects, and optimize visual elements in your website.
2. Mobile-Friendliness: Many consumers switch from desktop to mobile devices to conduct various searches for products and services. Check your website on a mobile device to make sure it’s easy to navigate and is mobile-friendly.
3. Website Architecture: Use HTTPS hypertext, a user-friendly and consistent URL structure, a clean navigation hierarchy, and persistent internal links to simplify the layout of your website.
4. Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Local SEO is a type of SEO that focuses on a local location rather than a broad geographic area.
It’s about growing your Internet presence in your area and promoting your products or services to local customers.
How high you rank on Google is often determined by your Google My Business profile.
This is where you provide your business address, business hours, description, images, etc.
Based on the user’s search query, the search engine results pages will consider proximity, relevance, and prominence, and select your business if you meet the criteria.
The benefits of Local SEO are:
- It is highly targeted.
- It’s completely free.
Since only 44% of companies register their GMB listings, there is a better chance of ranking locally.
Writing specific local landing pages, optimizing your local profile, reporting spam on Google Maps, and generating local links are just some of the ways you can boost your local SEO.
5. White-Hat Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
White-Hat SEO is a type of SEO that uses only those optimization techniques that follow the major search engines guidelines.
Although it takes time to see results, they are long-term, sustainable, and generate real goodwill for your business.
Also, if Google’s algorithm changes, your site will not be banned or blacklisted.
Overall, white-hat search engine optimization is low-risk and high-reward if done correctly.
Writing helpful and relevant content after doing significant keyword research, getting backlinks from high-authority websites based on the value of your on-page content, etc, are some examples of white-hat SEO tactics.
6. Black-Hat Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Black-Hat SEO is the opposite of white-hat SEO, in that it finds and exploits search engines algorithm flaws or loopholes to increase rank in search engine results page (SERP).
To move forward, it ignores search engines’ list of SEO dos and don’ts and instead uses spammy or sponsored link-building tactics, keyword stuffing, and cloaking (showing different content to bots/crawlers and people) to get a higher ranking in search results.
Black-hat SEO can result in your website getting banned or ranking down, so it’s best to stay away from it.
Furthermore, these high-risk SEO strategies only provide a temporary effect.
7. Grey-Hat Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Gray-Hat SEO is a type of SEO that uses a combination of white hat SEO and black hat SEO techniques.
Due to the demand to see immediate results from the client, SEO services often adopt grey-hat SEO strategies, which fall between white and black hat SEO in terms of approach.
Although such methods are not officially prohibited by Google’s Webmaster Rules, they are discouraged and can lead to unwanted search outcomes.
Clickbait content that is sensational but bad and of little use to the user, excessive links from other websites, paid reviews, etc, are examples of grey-hat SEO.
Again, such shady search engine optimization methods should be avoided at all costs.
What Are The Most Important Ranking Factors?
The most important ranking factors are discussed below:
1. Search Intent.
Search intent is the intention of the searcher as they begin their search.
It is one of the important ranking factors for SEO.
When a user types a query into Google, what is he or she trying to accomplish?
Do they want to find a website, product, or service?
Does your content/webpage meet the intent of the search query that led the searcher to your site?
The search intent of your web page will impact your SEO success.
If your content satisfies user search intent, you can get a high ranking in search engines.
Here language, freshness, and synonyms all matter.
Once Google’s algorithm has determined that your content satisfies the search objective of the query, it will scan its Google index to determine where your content sits in terms of relevance.
Content relevance depends on how relevant your content is to the search query and how unique your content is compared to other sites and websites on the web.
If a user wants to learn more about a topic, there are hundreds or thousands of websites available to them that contain relevant content.
Your website needs to be relevant to the search query or else the searcher will not visit your website.
On-page SEO is important in this case.
If you give the clearest and most relevant content to the searchers, you will definitely rank better in the SERPs.
3. Quality Of Content.
It may seem that information with strong search intent and relevance is already of high quality.
But the Google algorithm assesses the quality.
Many refer to this assessment as E-A-T – Expertise, Authority, and Credibility.
Google wants to see the quality, original, and unique content on websites.
If you have a website full of junk pages or duplicate content, Google won’t rank you highly.
A well-written article that meets search intent will rank much higher than a poorly written one.
What Is The Best Way To Learn SEO?
You can study SEO for your business in many ways.
If you have opted to do SEO yourself, your strategy and learning style become even more important.
There are free academy courses offering certification, and Google itself offers training and certification, which is very beneficial if you want to monitor the success of your website.
Some businesses cannot expand quickly or efficiently enough to understand and implement SEO on their own.
In this case, hiring an SEO agency can be one of the less stressful ways to ensure that your business gets the visibility it deserves.
Now that you know the basics of SEO, go ahead and start applying it to your website.
Put target keywords in your site’s content, use images to make your website more visually appealing, and link to relevant content that will help increase your traffic.
A better website ranking will bring more visitors to your site and increase the likelihood of people buying from you.
So it’s time to start taking search engine optimization seriously.
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