Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of ranking high on a search engine in the unpaid section, also known as the organic listings. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO is all about improving a site’s rankings in the organic (non-paid) section of the search results. Common tasks associated with SEO include creating high-quality content, optimizing content around specific keywords, and building backlinks.
And, when it comes to SEO, there’s you, the search engine, and the searcher. If you have an article about the “Keyword Research” you want the search engine (which, in 90% of all cases, is Google) to show it as a top result to anyone who searches for the phrase “Keyword Research”.
How Search Engines Work?
Now it’s time to learn how search engines like Google actually work.
When you search for something in Google (or any other search engine), an algorithm works in real-time to bring you what that search engine considers the “best” result.
Google specifically scans its index of “hundreds of billions” of pages in order to find a set of results that will best answer your search.
How does Google determine the “best” result?
Even though Google doesn’t make the inner workings of its algorithm public, based on filed patents and statements from Google, we know that websites and web pages are ranked based on:
If you search for “chocolate chip cookie recipes”, you don’t want to see web pages about truck tires.
That’s why Google looks first-and-foremost for pages that are closely-related to your keyword.
However, Google doesn’t simply rank “the most relevant pages at the top”. That’s because there are thousands (or even millions) of relevant pages for every search term.
Example: When you search “What is SEO” in google, you find around 639 million search results.
Authority is just like it sounds: it’s Google’s way of determining if the content is accurate and trustworthy. In fact, Google’s ability to measure authority via links is what separates it from search engines, like Yahoo, that came before it.
Content can be relevant and authoritative. But if it’s not useful, Google won’t want to position that content at the top of the search results.
In fact, Google has publicly said that there’s a distinction between “higher quality content” and “useful” content. Example: Google will rank the unpopular website with high quality content in an organised manner compared to the popular website which has high quality content but in an unorganized manner.
Google measures usefulness largely based on “User Experience Signals”. So, the best tips to be successful is to create a website that people love! Search engines are designed to measure different signals across the Web so they can find websites that people like most. Play right into their hands by making those signals real and not artificial.
How does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work?
SEO works by optimizing your site for the search engine that you want to rank for, whether it’s Google, Bing, Amazon or YouTube. Specifically, your job is to make sure that a search engine sees your site as the overall best result for a person’s search.
How they determine the “best” result is based on an algorithm that takes into account authority, relevancy to that query, loading speed, and more. In most cases, when people think “search engine optimization”, they think “Google SEO”. Which is why we’re going to focus on optimizing your site for Google in this guide.
Organic Search Results vs Paid Search Results:
Organic Search Results:
Organic search results (sometimes referred to as “natural” results) are natural results that rank based 100% on merit. In other words, there’s no way to pay Google or other search engines in order to rank higher in the organic search results.
Search engine rank the organic search results based on hundreds of different ranking factors. But in general, organic results are deemed by Google to be the most relative, trustworthy, and authoritative websites or web pages on the subject.
Paid Search Results:
Paid search results are ads that appear on top of or underneath the organic results. Paid ads are completely independent of the organic listings. Advertisers in the paid results section are “ranked” by how much they’re are willing to pay for a single visitor from a particular set of search results.
Why is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so important?
While paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines.
Organic search results cover more digital real estate, appear more credible to savvy searchers, and receive way more clicks than paid advertisements. For example, of all US searches, only ~2.8% of people click on paid advertisements.
In a nutshell: SEO has ~20X more traffic opportunity than PPC on both mobile and desktop.
SEO is also one of the only online marketing channels that, when set up correctly, can continue to pay dividends over time. If you provide a solid piece of content that deserves to rank for the right keywords, your traffic can snowball over time, whereas advertising needs continuous funding to send traffic to your site.
Search engines are getting smarter, but they still need our help.
Optimizing your site will help deliver better information to search engines so that your content can be properly indexed and displayed within search results.
White hat vs black hat SEO:
“White hat SEO” refers to SEO techniques, best practices, and strategies that abide by search engine rule, its primary focus to provide more value to people.
“Black hat SEO” refers to techniques and strategies that attempt to spam/fool search engines. While black hat SEO can work, it puts websites at tremendous risk of being penalized and/or de-indexed (removed from search results) and has ethical implications.
Penalized websites have bankrupted businesses. It’s just another reason to be very careful when choosing an SEO expert or agency.
Do’s and Don’ts of SEO (Search Engine Optimization):
The term SEO refer to the strategies used to help websites have better rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (aka SERPs), therefore making them easier to find through online searches. In the complex world of SEO there are many details to keep in mind at all times, and the internet provides a wealth of information on the topic. Unfortunately, the ever changing nature of SEO makes some practices become obsolete or even unacceptable over time.
The following are ten of the most important and up-to-date SEO (Search Engine Optimization) “do’s and don’ts” to consider when working on your online strategy:
1. DON’T put all of your keywords on one page. Instead, make sure you are using specific, relevant keywords on each individual page. This will help prevent your own pages from competing against each other for rankings, and it will make it clear to search engines and visitors what each page is about.
2. DO incorporate keywords that are relevant to the page. In other words, the keywords used in your content should relate to your page title. Search engines will check for consistency.
3. DO make your Metadata Description representative of the page content. It is also important to include keywords because they will appear bolded in related searches and grab the attention of potential visitors.
4. DON’T engage in keyword stuffing or unnatural phrasing. Keywords should be naturally incorporated into the content. If the page content doesn’t seem to make sense to you, it’s likely that other users (as well as search engines) will feel the same way.
5. DO have other websites linking to yours, but don’t link back to them! Google does not like link exchanges. They want to see that websites earn links because the content is valuable to searchers, not because the webmaster has a link trading network.
6. DO have presence on relevant social media. It’s important to keep profiles updated, have interactions with other users, and periodically post new content. Social media is a powerful business tool when used wisely.
7. DO create and verify a Google+ page for your business. Google+ is not ‘just another social network’. This one is by Google, and they have publicly stated that if you are not on it, then you are on your path to irrelevancy when it comes to organic search rankings.
8. DON’T ignore negative reviews. Even if they seem old or untrue to you, it’s important to respond to every comment, whether it’s negative or positive. Searchers don’t know the context, but they will see how you handle both satisfied and unsatisfied customers.
9. DON’T panic if your rankings seem to drop suddenly. There is always an explanation for any variation in rankings, which can be as simple as Google testing an algorithm update.
10. DON’T make any significant changes without consulting an expert, and avoid making any assumptions. Allow an SEO expert to help you define and maintain a strong SEO strategy to help your website’s overall performance.
Also Read: 10 tips for choosing the perfect domain name
Check out this very informative video on SEO from Ahrefs: