SEO

WHAT IS SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a set of practices and techniques used to improve the visibility and ranking of a website or web page in search engine results pages (SERPs). The primary goal of search engine optimization is to increase organic (non-paid) traffic to a website by optimizing various on-page and off-page elements to make the website more attractive to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Key components of SEO include:

  1. Keyword Research: Identifying the search terms and phrases (keywords) that potential visitors are likely to use when searching for content related to your website.
  2. On-Page search engine optimization: Optimizing individual web pages by incorporating relevant keywords into titles, headings, content, and meta tags (such as meta descriptions and meta keywords). Improving page load times, mobile-friendliness, and user experience are also important aspects of on-page.
  3. Off-page search engine optimization: Building a strong online presence through strategies like link building, social media marketing, and influencer outreach to increase the authority and credibility of your website.
  4. Technical SEO: Ensuring that your website is technically sound, including factors like site speed, crawlability, mobile optimization, and structured data markup.
  5. Content Optimization: Creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content that satisfies the needs of your target audience while incorporating relevant keywords.
  6. Local SEO: If applicable, optimizing your website to appear in local search results, especially important for brick-and-mortar businesses targeting a specific geographic area.
  7. Analytics and Monitoring: Using tools like Google Analytics to track website performance, measure the effectiveness of SEO efforts, and make data-driven improvements.
  8. User Experience (UX): Focusing on providing a positive and user-friendly experience on your website to reduce bounce rates and improve visitor engagement.
  9. Algorithm Updates: Staying informed about changes to search engine algorithms (such as Google’s algorithm updates) and adjusting search engine optimization strategies accordingly.

Effective SEO can lead to higher rankings in search engine results, which can, in turn, result in increased organic traffic, more visibility for your brand or content, and potentially higher conversions or sales. It’s an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and adjustment as search engine algorithms evolve and use

Search engine optimization

SEO audit

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seo stands for “search engine optimization.” In simple terms, means the process of improving your website to increase its visibility in Google, Microsoft Bing, and other search engines whenever people search for:

Explore search engine optimization

PPC stands for pay-per-click – a type of digital marketing where advertisers are charged whenever one of their ads gets clicked on.

Basically, advertisers bid on specific keywords or phrases that they want their ads to appear for in the search engine results. When a user searches for one of those keywords or phrases, the advertiser’s ad will appear among the top results. 

So again, if we think of search marketing as a coin, search engine optimization and PPC are two sides of the same coin – SEO is the unpaid side, and PPC is the paid side. 

Another key point: it’s important never to think of it as “search engine optimization vs. PPC” (i.e., which one is better) because these are complementary channels. It’s not an either-or question – always choose both (as long as your budget allows it).

As we mentioned before, the terms SEM and PPC are used within the industry interchangeably. However, that isn’t the case here on Search Engine Land. 

Whenever we mention “SEM,” it will be because we’re referring to both SEO (organic search) and PPC (paid search). 

If you’re curious about the history behind how “SEM” came to mean “PPC” at the exclusion of search engine optimizatin, you can dig deeper into these articles:

Why is SEO important?

SEO is a critical marketing channel. First, and foremost: organic search delivers 53% of all website traffic.

That’s one big reason why the global SEO industry is forecast to reach a staggering $122.11 billion by 2028. SEO drives real business results for brands, businesses and organizations of all sizes.

Whenever people want to go somewhere, do something, find information, research or buy a product/service – their journey typically begins with a search. 

But today, search is incredibly fragmented. Users may search on traditional web search engines (e.g., Google, Microsoft Bing), social platforms (e.g., YouTube, TikTok) or retailer websites (e.g., Amazon). 

Optimizing the technical elements of a website is crucial and fundamental for SEO success. 

It all starts with architecture – creating a website that can be crawled and indexed by search engines. As Gary Illyes, Google’s trends analyst once put it in a Reddit AMA: “MAKE THAT DAMN SITE CRAWLABLE.” 

You want to make it easy for search engines to discover and access all of the content on your pages (i.e., text, images, videos). What technical elements matter here: URL structure, navigation, internal linking, and more.

Experience is also a critical element of technical optimization. Search engines stress the importance of pages that load quickly and provide a good user experience. Elements such as Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness and usability, HTTPS, and avoiding intrusive interstitials all matter in technical SEO. 

Another area of technical optimization is structured data (a.k.a., schema). Adding this code to your website can help search engines better understand your content and enhance your appearance in the search results. 

SEO
SEO Explore

How SEO works

Search engines such as Google use an algorithm or set of rules to determine what pages to show for any given query. These algorithms have evolved to be extremely complex, and take into account hundreds or even thousands of different ranking factors to determine the rankings of their SERPs. However, there are three core metrics that search engines evaluate to determine the quality of a site and how it should rank:

SEO Links
  • Links – Links from other websites play a key role in determining the ranking of a site in Google and other search engines. The reason being, a link can be seen as a vote of quality from other websites, since website owners are unlikely to link to other sites that are of poor quality. Sites that acquire links from many other sites gain authority (called “PageRank” in Google) in the eyes of search engines, especially if the sites that are linking to them are themselves authoritative.
  • Content – In addition to looking at links, search engines also analyze the content of a webpage to determine if it would be relevant for any given search query. A large part of SEO is in creating content that is targeted towards the keywords that search engines’ users are searching for.
  • Page structure – The third core component of SEO is page structure. Because webpages are written in HTML, how the HTML code is structured can impact a search engine’s ability to evaluate a page. Including relevant keywords in the title, URL, and headers of the page and making sure that a site is crawlable are actions that site owners can take to improve the SEO of their site.

The search engine optimization process involves optimizing each of these core components of search engine algorithms in order to rank higher in the search results.

g how search engines work is only the first step of the process in improving a site’s search rankings. Actually improving a site’s rank involves leveraging various SEO techniques to optimize the site for search:

  • Keyword research – Keyword research is often the starting point for SEO and involves looking at what keywords a site is already ranking for, what keywords competitors rank for, and what other keywords potential customers are searching for. Identifying the terms that searchers use in Google search and other search engines provide direction on what existing content can be optimized and what new content can be created.
  • Content marketing – Once potential keywords are identified, content marketing comes into play. This can be updating existing content or creating brand new pieces of content. Because Google and other search engines place a premium on high-quality content, it’s important to research what content is already out there and create a compelling piece of content that provides a positive user experience and has a chance of ranking higher in the search engine results. Good content also has a greater chance of being shared on social media and attracting links.
  • Link building – Because links from external websites (called “backlinks” in SEO parlance) are one of the core ranking factors in Google and other major search engines, obtaining high-quality backlinks is one of the main levers that SEO has. This can involve promoting good content, reaching out to other websites and building relationships with webmasters, submitting websites to relevant web directories, and getting press to attract links from other websites.
  • On-page optimization – In addition to off-page factors such as links, improving the actual structure of the page can have tremendous benefits for SEO, and is a factor that is entirely in the control of the webmaster. Common on-page optimization techniques include optimizing the URL of the page to incorporate keywords, updating the title tag of the page to use relevant search terms, and using the alt attribute to describe images. Updating a page’s meta tags (such as the meta description tag) can also be beneficial– these tags don’t have a direct impact on search rankings, but can increase click-through rate from the SERPs.
  • Site architecture optimization – External links are not the only thing that matters for SEO, internal links (the links within one’s own website)g how search engines work is only the first step of the process in improving a site’s search rankings. Actually improving a site’s rank involves leveraging various SEO techniques to optimize the site for search: Keyword research – Keyword research is often the starting point for SEO and involves looking at what keywords a site is already ranking for, what keywords competitors rank for, and what other keywords potential customers are searching for. Identifying the terms that searchers use in Google search and other search engines provide direction on what existing content can be optimized and what new content can be created. Content marketing – Once potential keywords are identified, content marketing comes into play. This can be updating existing content or creating brand new pieces of content. Because Google and other search engines place a premium on high-quality content, it’s important to research what content is already out there and create a compelling piece of content that provides a positive user experience and has a chance of ranking higher in the search engine results. Good content also has a greater chance of being shared on social media and attracting links. Link building – Because links from external websites (called “backlinks” in SEO parlance) are one of the core ranking factors in Google and other major search engines, obtaining high-quality backlinks is one of the main levers that SEO has. This can involve promoting good content, reaching out to other websites and building relationships with webmasters, submitting websites to relevant web directories, and getting press to attract links from other websites. On-page optimization – In addition to off-page factors such as links, improving the actual structure of the page can have tremendous benefits for SEO, and is a factor that is entirely in the control of the webmaster. Common on-page optimization techniques include optimizing the URL of the page to incorporate keywords, updating the title tag of the page to use relevant search terms, and using the alt attribute to describe images. Updating a page’s meta tags (such as the meta description tag) can also be beneficial– these tags don’t have a direct impact on search rankings, but can increase click-through rate from the SERPs. Site architecture optimization – External links are not the only thing that matters for SEO, internal links (the links within one’s own website) play a large role in SEO as well. Thus a search engine optimizer can improve a site’s SEO by making sure key pages are being linked to and that relevant anchor text is being used in those links to help improve a page’s relevance for specific terms. Creating an XML sitemap can also be a good way for larger pages to help search engines discover and crawl all of the site’s pages. Semantic markup – Another SEO strategy that SEO experts utilize is optimizing a website’s semantic markup. Semantic markup (such as Schema.org) is used to describe the meaning behind the content on a page, such as helping to identify who the author of a piece of content is or the topic and type of content on a page. Using semantic markup can help with getting rich snippets displayed on the search results page, such as extra text, review stars and even images. Rich snippets in the SERPs don’t have an impact on search rankings but can improve CTR from search, resulting in an increase in organic traffic.
  • g how search engines work is only the first step of the process in improving a site’s search rankings. Actually improving a site’s rank involves leveraging various SEO techniques to optimize the site for search:
  • Keyword research – Keyword research is often the starting point for SEO and involves looking at what keywords a site is already ranking for, what keywords competitors rank for, and what other keywords potential customers are searching for. Identifying the terms that searchers use in Google search and other search engines provide direction on what existing content can be optimized and what new content can be created.
  • Content marketing – Once potential keywords are identified, content marketing comes into play. This can be updating existing content or creating brand new pieces of content. Because Google and other search engines place a premium on high-quality content, it’s important to research what content is already out there and create a compelling piece of content that provides a positive user experience and has a chance of ranking higher in the search engine results. Good content also has a greater chance of being shared on social media and attracting links.
  • Link building – Because links from external websites (called “backlinks” in SEO parlance) are one of the core ranking factors in Google and other major search engines, obtaining high-quality backlinks is one of the main levers that SEO has. This can involve promoting good content, reaching out to other websites and building relationships with webmasters, submitting websites to relevant web directories, and getting press to attract links from other websites.
  • On-page optimization – In addition to off-page factors such as links, improving the actual structure of the page can have tremendous benefits for SEO, and is a factor that is entirely in the control of the webmaster. Common on-page optimization techniques include optimizing the URL of the page to incorporate keywords, updating the title tag of the page to use relevant search terms, and using the alt attribute to describe images. Updating a page’s meta tags (such as the meta description tag) can also be beneficial– these tags don’t have a direct impact on search rankings, but can increase click-through rate from the SERPs.
  • Site architecture optimization – External links are not the only thing that matters for SEO, internal links (the links within one’s own website) play a large role in SEO as well. Thus a search engine optimizer can improve a site’s SEO by making sure key pages are being linked to and that relevant anchor text is being used in those links to help improve a page’s relevance for specific terms. Creating an XML sitemap can also be a good way for larger pages to help search engines discover and crawl all of the site’s pages.
  • Semantic markup – Another SEO strategy that search engine optimization experts utilize is optimizing a website’s semantic markup. Semantic markup (such as Schema.org) is used to describe the meaning behind the content on a page, such as helping to identify who the author of a piece of content is or the topic and type of content on a page. Using semantic markup can help with getting rich snippets displayed on the search results page, such as extra text, review stars and even images. Rich snippets in the SERPs don’t have an impact on search rankings but can improve CTR from search, resulting in an increase in organic traffic.
  • play a large role in SEO as well. Thus a search engine optimizer can improve a site’s SEO by making sure key pages are being linked to and that relevant anchor text is being used in those links to help improve a page’s relevance for specific terms. Creating an XML sitemap can also be a good way for larger pages to help search engines discover and crawl all of the site’s pages.
  • Semantic markup – Another SEO strategy that SEO experts utilize is optimizing a website’s semantic markup. Semantic markup (such as Schema.org) is used to describe the meaning behind the content on a page, such as helping to identify who the author of a piece of content is or the topic and type of content on a page. Using semantic markup can help with getting rich snippets displayed in the search results page, such as extra text, review stars and even images. Rich snippets in the SERPs don’t have an impact on search rankings but can improve CTR from search, resulting in an increase in organic traffic.

11 Incredible SEO Products You’ll Wish You Discovered Sooner

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