What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the number and quality of website visitors by improving rankings in algorithmic search results.
Research shows that websites on the first page of Google get nearly 95% of clicks, and research shows that results that appear higher on the page get higher click-through rates (CTR) and more traffic.
How does SEO work?
Google (and Bing, which also provides Yahoo search results) rank their search results largely based on the relevance and authority of the pages that it crawled and included in its web index, at the user’s request, to provide a better answer.
Google uses over 200 signals to evaluate search results, and SEO includes technical and creative actions to influence and improve some of these well-known signals. It is often useful not to pay too much attention to individual ranking signals and look at the broader goal of Google to provide better answers for its users.
Therefore, SEO implies that the website is accessible, technically sound, uses the words that people type in search engines, and provides an excellent user experience with useful and high-quality expert content that helps to respond to a user request.
Google has a very large team of search quality evaluators who evaluate the quality of search results that are included in the machine learning algorithm. Google’s Search Quality Assessment Guidelines contain many details and examples of how Google treats high or low-quality content and websites, and their emphasis on the desire to reward sites that clearly show their experience, credibility, and trust (EAT).
Google uses a hyperlink-based algorithm (known as “PageRank”) to calculate the popularity and authority of a page, and while Google is much more complex today, this is still a fundamental signal in rankings. Therefore, SEO can also include activities aimed at improving the quantity and quality of “inbound links” to other sites. This activity is historically known as “link building”, but in reality, it is simply brand marketing with an emphasis on the Internet, for example through content or digital PR.
Relevant and reputable websites linking to the website are a strong signal to Google that it may be of interest to its users and that it can be trusted to appear in the search results for relevant queries.
How to do SEO
SEO involves technical and creative activities, which are often grouped under “Onsite SEO” and “Offsite SEO“. This terminology is quite outdated, but it is useful to understand it because it shares the practices that can be performed on the website and outside the website.
These activities require experience, often from several people, as the skill sets required to perform them at a high level are completely different – but they can also be learned. Another option is to hire a professional SEO agency or SEO consultant who will help in the necessary areas.
Onsite SEO refers to actions on a website to improve organic visibility. This largely means optimizing the website and content to improve accessibility, relevance, and user experience. Some of the typical activities include –
Keyword Research – An analysis of the types of words and frequencies used by potential customers to find brands of services or products. Understanding of their intentions and expectations of users from their search.
Technical audit – Providing the ability to crawl and index the website, the correct geographical orientation, and the absence of errors and barriers to the user.
In-Place Optimization – Improve site structure, internal navigation, page alignment, and content relevance to help prioritize key areas and find relevant search phrases.
User experience is a guarantee that the content demonstrates experience, credibility, and trust, is easy to use, fast, and, ultimately, provides the best interaction with users compared to competitors.
The above list only touches upon a small number of activities involved in Onsite SEO as an overview.
Off-site SEO refers to actions taken outside of the website to improve organic visibility. This is often referred to as “link building,” the goal of which is to increase the number of authoritative links from other websites, as search engines use them as a measure of trust.
Links from websites and pages with great trust, popularity, and relevance will convey more value to another website than an unknown, bad website that search engines do not trust. So link quality is the most important signal.
Some of the typical activities include –
Content (“Marketing”) – Authoritative sites link to exclusive content. Therefore, creating awesome content will help attract links. This can include leadership, storytelling, visualization, news, or research with compelling evidence.
Digital PR – PR provides a reason for other websites to speak and link to a website. This can be an internal stream of news, articles for external publications, original research or studies, interviews with experts, quotes, product postings, and much more.
Outreach and Promotion– This involves talking to key journalists, bloggers, influencers, or webmasters about a brand, resource, content, or PR in order to get coverage and ultimately earn links to the website.
Obviously, there are a huge number of reasons why a website may link to another, and not all of them fit into the actions described above. This may include speaking at an event featured by local bloggers, sponsoring a local soccer team, or listing suppliers as examples.
A good rule of thumb about whether a link is useful is to consider the quality of the referral traffic (visitors who can click on the link to visit your site). If the site won’t send visitors, or the audience is completely unrelated and irrelevant, then this may not really be the link to look for.
It’s important to remember that link schemes such as link buying, excessive link exchanges, or substandard directories and articles designed to manipulate rankings are against Google’s policies and can act to punish a website.
The best and most sustainable approach to improving inbound links to a website is to make money by providing genuine and compelling reasons for websites to refer to the brand and content by referring to who they are, the service or product that they provide, or the content they Create.
Resources To Learn SEO
There are lots of useful resources on the web to help learn more about SEO. Some of the key resources we recommend are as follows.