Of all the online activities, 68% of these begin with a search engine. When you look at the people doing the searching, 75% of these searchers will not navigate past the first page of results.
The world of SEO (Serch engine optimization) is vast; it contains terminology we need to learn. Tactics to turn into actions and solid strategies that need forming.
But before we can do all those things, we need to understand the fundamental question, “What is SEO”?
You need to know that SEO is a potent tool that you can use to make your website more visible online and increase your website’s traffic, much like getting more people through a shop’s door.
So, please keep reading for the complete guide on what SEO is and how it works!
What Is SEO, And How Does SEO Work?
SEO is the abbreviation for search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization (SEO), in its simplest form, refers to the practice of increasing your website’s visibility in Google and other search engines when customers are looking for your company’s products or services. The more prominent your website is in search results to attract new and existing customers, the more likely it is.
SEO is how you make this happen; it’s the strategy and actions one takes to get their business website from page 54 to page 1 on search engine results.
How Does SEO Work?
When a search request is used, the search engine needs to decide which page to show according to what is being asked. These search engines, like Google, use algorithms or a whole list of rules to make this happen. These algorithms have become exceedingly complicated, taking into account hundreds, if not thousands, of distinct ranking parameters to establish rankings.
Search results display in an ordered list, and the higher a site can rank on that list, the more visitors it will receive. Usually, the results at the top of a page for a typical search query will receive 40-60% of the overall traffic for that specific search term, but the results that follow that will receive much less traffic.
Significantly few searchers will go past the first page of search results. So even slight increases in your website’s ranking can turn into increased visitors and, perhaps, it could even generate leads and grow a business’ bottom line.
The competition in SEO is fierce, and to stand out, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
The Three Pillars of SEO
It is a fact that the triangle is the strongest, sturdiest shape. So it’s only fitting that the pillars upon which SEO stands three; these three pillars cannot operate in isolation, much like the three points in a triangle.
These three pillars are:
- Technical SEO
Let’s have a deeper look into what makes up these three pillars and how they matter to each other.
What Is Technical SEO?
These elements drive your site’s performance and crawlability from behind the scenes. Your site should have a clear and straightforward structure for search engines to scan and index your content. The site’s URL structures should be logical.
You may need to arrange things differently depending on the sort of site, but in general, you’ll want to break your site down into relevant subjects or chunks and make it easy to browse between topics and sections.
Technical SEO is where you focus on the speed of your website, how mobile-friendly your website is, and navigation and the user experience from your technical SEO tactics.
What Is Content? What is Search Intent?
Content SEO is exactly that, all the elements of SEO on every page of your website. These are things like keyword usage and placement throughout the pages on your website.
The tags on your website should be relevant to your other content. Things like your descriptions and titles need to be carefully constructed.
Lastly, images and videos are also helpful to increase your search engine ranking. Make sure they’re also relevant to the content on your website and have valid alt text to help with searching.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks or off-page SEO is the connection between your website and others. When a website links to yours, that’s a backlink; it’s an endorsement of trust from another entity. Google can understand the connection between this as a “vote of confidence” that a website is credible. In SEO, gaining these backlinks is called link building has to be done strategically and with quality in mind.
Differences Between Paid and Organic Search
The difference between organic and sponsored search is straightforward: the price.
Sponsored or paid search focuses on paid ranks and options such as the name suggests, whereas organic search focuses on unpaid rankings in search results. Companies employ SEO to improve their site’s visibility or rankings in organic search results. On the other hand, Paid search allows users to pay for a prominent position in search results.
Similarities Between Paid and Organic Search
There are many parallels between paid and organic search. It’s crucial to be able to distinguish between the two.
Paid search results are typically seen at the top of the page. They’ll have a tiny note on them that says “ad” or something similar. You can readily tell what an ad is since even if we don’t always think of digital marketing as advertising, it is essentially advertising.
Paid search results will always have a tiny ad indicator directly beneath the clickable headline, but paid search and organic search are becoming increasingly similar.
The following are the search results:
- Have headlines that can be clicked
- Have body copy that isn’t clickable
- Have clickable site links (the tiny links beneath the main ad space) so that there are a variety of options
Realistically, it takes three, six, or twelve months for search rankings to move, and most people aren’t willing to wait that long. Paid search assists you in attracting traffic to your website right now while also expediting optimizing your landing pages for more conversions, which pays off in the long run.
Why Do Search Engines Care About SEO?
Imagine a world where we didn’t have any entities organizing the world of search. If you were specifically looking for information on a particular breed of dog, imagine the sheer and immeasurable amount of irrelevant information you would have to sift through to find the information you want.
You would be completely overwhelmed with information about dog breeds you don’t care about, dog and pet products that you don’t need or want, dog breeders, dog handlers, dog trainers, vets, and much more.
Every search engine cares about SEO because it works for the website looking for an audience and the searcher.
Search engines are the internet’s way of saying, “I will match this information with this searcher because they are a match as a result of a long list of variables in the backend.”
How Do Search Engines Work?
When you’re starting to work out how search engines work, you’ll find buzzwords like crawling, indexing, and ranking. Sifting through the anagrams and the tech words can be intimidating, but understanding the process behind search engines doesn’t have to be confusing.
Spider bots crawl the web, which is how search engines work. These web crawlers effectively track links from one website to the next to identify fresh content in the search index. Relevant results are taken from the index and ranked using an algorithm when using a search engine.
It’s understandable if that sounds complex. However, if you want to increase traffic to your website by ranking higher in search engines, you’ll need a rudimentary understanding of how search engines detect, index, and rank content.
What Is Crawling?
Crawling is the first step. Search engines send web crawlers to find new pages and gather data about them. These web crawlers are also known as ‘spiders’ or ‘robots.’ Their goal is to find new web pages and examine the content of pages they’ve already visited to see whether it’s changed or updated.
Search engines crawl web pages by following previously found links. When a search engine scans your homepage, it will look for another link to track and may follow the link to your new blog post if you have a blog post connected to your homepage. Search engines are occasionally told not to crawl certain web pages, so they are left alone.
What Is Indexing?
Indexing is the next stage. When a search engine determines whether or not to use the content it has crawled, it is called indexing. A search engine will add a crawling web page to its index if judged worthy. This index is used in the final stage of ranking.
When a web page or piece of material is indexed, it is filed and saved in a database from which it can be retrieved at a later time. The index contains most web pages that have unique and valuable material.
What Is Ranking?
The third and most critical phase, ranking, is the most important. Search engines sort or rank the results for any given keyword to provide the searcher’s most valuable and relevant results. After the crawling and indexing stages are completed, ranking can begin. Your site can be ranked once crawled and indexed by a search engine.
It is said that search engines use over 200 ranking signals to categorize and rank material, all of which fall under the three pillars of SEO: technical optimization, on-page optimization, and off-page optimization. The existence of a keyword in the title tag, the loading speed of the web page, and the presence of a website plus its reputation are all examples of signals that search engines use to rank web pages.
How To Make SEO Work For Your Business
With the countless ways you’re told to find success with SEO, it can be tricky to figure out how to do things yourself. But, making SEO work for your business is a combination of tactics working together to create a well-oiled, optimized machine.
- Focus On The Right Keywords
Years ago, one would’ve found a bunch of keywords that could fall under the relevant industry, and they would’ve stuffed their website full of them. This would’ve worked back then.
Nowadays, there is far more strategy behind finding the right keywords for your brand, your business, and your website. The keywords should appear in the URL name, strategically throughout your website, and within your content.
- Focus On The Visitor
Search engines love it when a website prioritizes its visitor experience over keyword stuffing and other SEO checkboxes.
Have a simple, easy-to-use website. Make it apparent to visitors who you are and what you have to offer right away.
Use many headings and include your keywords in the headers to boost readability. For search engines, titles stand out and will help you rank better.
The speed of your website is hugely significant for SEO. The last thing you want to do is irritate your visitors by having a slow-loading website.
Finally, check to see if your website is mobile-friendly. Websites that are difficult to view on a smartphone are now penalized by search engines; your website should be design-responsive depending on what device it is being considered.
- Content Must Be High-quality
High-quality content researched, written, created, and published with the relevant audience in mind will increase your search engine rankings with minimal effort.
With this kind of content, you’ll likely be giving the information that your audience is seeking, which will increase your website’s traffic. Again, search engines will begin to rank your content as authoritative and decide it should be shown to more people.
If you’re considering getting assistance, know that some professionals can do both content and SEO.
- Link Building Should Be a Priority
The thought process behind link building is simple:
The more external websites that point to your website, the better it is for you. But, you’ll be looking for quality websites to do the pointing. The better related these external websites are to your industry and field, the more sense your link-building strategy will be.
The quality of links needs to outweigh the number of connections to make SEO work for your website and business.
Setting SEO Objectives
Setting SEO objectives is easier said than done. How does one know what they should be setting out to achieve? What are SEO goals realistic and achievable? What kind of timeframe does one look to accomplish SEO objectives within?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for SEO objectives. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither can your SEO show results overnight.
The Most Obvious SEO Goal
When it comes to setting SEO goals, there is one that outranks the rest, and it is to get more website traffic. You can achieve this by being productive and sticking to your goals.
Once a brand receives more website traffic, the positive circle begins. Search engines will start to rank the website higher, and hopefully, more website traffic means more quality leads for your business.
And at the end of the day, more leads generated should ultimately mean a better bottom line. But what about SEO objectives that can help you get to this point?
Examples of SEO Objectives
To achieve the ultimate SEO goal of increased website traffic, a better search engine ranking, and an increase in sales, one has to detail their SEO objectives.
Setting goals like these SEO objective examples will likely get you closer to your page one position.
- Get Visitors To Stay For Longer
It’s damaging to your website’s ranking if people visit your website but don’t stay and digest your content.
A good SEO objective is to look into ways to increase the time that visitors stay on your website.
- Optimize Page Speeds
You have split seconds to make an impression on your visitors, so pages that take too long to load will likely drive away your audience members.
Another excellent example of an SEO objective is to prioritize the loading speed of your website. To dig into each page and get it working at its absolute best in terms of loading is a good SEO goal.
- Improve Links
One of the SEO objectives you should tackle is improving your website’s internal links. So, your goal should be to analyze every link that appears and remove broken ones and improve on those that are no longer relevant to your business or brand.
Setting Objectives For Different Types of Businesses
Generally speaking, different businesses will likely have different goals regarding their online objectives. Some brands will be after online awareness growth, while others want to generate quality leads.
The key to this is understanding your business’s critical objectives outside of digital and then adding to those goals to help you achieve them with your digital and SEO tactics.
For example, an eCommerce website will employ entirely different SEO tactics than an international school. Why? The eCommerce store is looking to make a sale right then and there on their website, whereas the school is looking for people to make an inquiry or fill in the contact form.
This means that each business needs to work on its SEO to complement what its type of business is trying to achieve.
SEO will most likely work towards achieving these things:
- Driving organic traffic to your website
- Performing lead acquisition and marketing directly
- Reputation management
- Influencing their industry and appearing in news
- Driving brand awareness
- Increasing eCommerce sales
Choosing one of the above for your business is based on your type of business. Once you’ve chosen your objective and goal, you can work on the tactics that will help you achieve it. Ensure that you have the means with which to measure your performance before you start any campaign or make any alterations or changes.
What’s incredibly important is knowing where you started and how far you have come with your SEO. Otherwise, how will you know if anything you are doing is working? Make sure that you record the foundation you started on and set up regular intervals to check your performance.
Successful SEO Campaigns
The fundamental answer to “What is SEO?” has been given. It would help if you had an in-depth understanding of search engine optimization and what your business wants to achieve. Getting there, however, may not be so easy.
Remember that SEO is a journey and not a destination. Your SEO efforts will constantly adapt and mold to fit the ever-changing digital world. You will never be done, so set aside the time to measure your performance and tweak the parts of your SEO strategy that need it.
The most crucial aspect of your SEO journey is measuring your progress and measure your performance, which is based on your objectives and your goals.
Do you feel like you still need help? Book a call with me, and we’ll get you all the SEO help you need.