SEO means Search Engine Optimization and is the process used to optimize a website’s technical configuration, content relevance, and link popularity so its pages can become easily findable, more relevant, and popular towards user search queries, and as a consequence, search engines rank them better.
Search engines recommend SEO efforts that benefit both the user search experience and page’s ranking, by featuring content that fulfills user search needs. This includes the use of relevant keywords in titles, meta descriptions, and headlines (H1), featuring descriptive URLs with keywords rather than strings of numbers, and schema markup to specify the page’s content meaning, among other SEO best practices.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which helps your page rank higher on Google and other search engines for relevant, targeted queries – and therefore, to attract more user clicks, as they tend to click on the first result – to drive more traffic to your site.
You can optimize your pages based on what search engines look for in a website, which changes as technology trends continue to evolve.
But SEO hasn’t always been this way. In the early days of the internet, search engines ranked sites by how many times each site used a particular keyword. This led to a practice known as “keyword stuffing,” and it meant that even high-quality sites could easily get buried. Now Google prioritizes quality over keyword density.
How does Google Works?
When you enter a search term, Google’s algorithm determines which of the countless websites out there will be most relevant to you. It then lists the relevant sites taking into consideration their relevance and popularity -among other ranking factors – and shows them to you on what the industry calls a search engine results page.
Google is constantly searching the web looking for new or updated pages, simulating the behavior of users. It uses programs known as web crawlers, which follow links across the internet, a process is also known as crawling, and report what they find to Google’s servers. The fundamentals make sure that your pages are accessible to be crawled and your site architecture should facilitate navigation across all site pages, by the effective usage of internal linking. Technical SEO is the aspect of SEO that will help to effectively configure your site to optimize it. There’s a variety of SEO tools that can help you with this task.
When Google’s web crawlers return information about a website, a collection of internal servers analyzes each page’s content to determine its topics. If Google considers that the page information can be useful and relevant to be shown in search results, it will keep it in its index ready to be served whenever someone searches for a relevant topic.
- When someone conducts a search, Google determines which pages appear first to provide the best user experience by considering factors such as:
- The words used in the search query
- The user’s location
- The page’s information relevance, trustworthiness, expertise, and authority towards the searched terms
- The page’s link popularity
- The page’s configuration provides a fast, reliable experience: such as its speed and mobile-friendliness.
The ongoing challenge of SEO is making sure that pages on your site perform better than all others about the same topic, taking into account the above-mentioned SEO factors, so a page can continue to perform better in search results, independently of algorithm changes.
On-Page versus Off-Page SEO
The best way to differentiate on-page and off-page SEO is by the terms themselves.
On-page SEO refers to the elements that are included on the site, technical configurations as well as content, that search engines will take into consideration, including but not limited to:
- Title Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- URL structure
- Main page copy
- Image Alt descriptions
- Load speed
The more on-page SEO elements you address effectively, the higher your site will rank in organic searches.
Off-page SEO also helps improve your site ranking, since Google sees links as “endorsements” that will refer popularity towards your site, but it’s harder to take action to directly improve it. That’s because off-page SEO involves sites that aren’t yours but are linking to you. This may include:
- Blogs and articles that link to your content
- Video, audio, or image-sharing sites that host off-site content
- Directories and company review sites
If you run a local company, you can submit your company information to sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages to start improving your own off-page SEO. To make your presence even stronger, encourage your customers to leave reviews and rate your business on these pages.
The other big part of off-page SEO is attracting backlinks through link-building campaigns. A backlink is an external link that brings users back to your site. The more backlinks you have, the more others consider you to be an authority in your industry.
Predictably, this area has caused problems, as it’s hard to build links. Website owners used to, and some still do, trade or buy backlinks in hopes of becoming more popular and ranking higher on search results. But today, many links built in an unnatural way, intended to manipulate a site’s ranking, can be considered a violation of Google’s guidelines and can actually negatively impact and penalize your site’s rankings in search results.
The best link building strategies rely on creating highly useful, attractive and shareable content in different formats, from guides to interviews, infographics or videos(like webinars), that you can promote with your community and influencers via social media or newsletters, who will then decide if they link to them if they find them useful.
Some effective strategies are:
- Submitting guest posts to respected blogs
- Creating shareable infographics
- Developing content that mentions influencers and trends in your field
- Posting multimedia content on sites like Vimeo, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Flickr
Your end goal is to develop a reputation as an authority in your field, and that will be reflected in link popularity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does SEO stand for?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. You engage in SEO when you attempt to get a page to rank higher in a search engine’s SERPs (search engine results pages), with the ultimate goal being to increase organic traffic to that page.
What is on-page SEO?
On-page SEO refers to tactics utilized on or within a page to assist it in ranking higher in the search engine. On-page SEO includes both content and the HTML source code of a page, but not external links and other external signals.
How is SEO changing?
SEO is always changing. But the biggest change continues to be the shift toward mobile. Mobile digital media time in the US is now significantly higher (51%) than desktop digital media time (42%), and that number is set to continue to grow.
Will blogging help SEO?
Yes! Each piece of new content you create is another opportunity to rank for a target keyword related to your business. The more high-quality blogs you create, the wider the net you cast across your industry’s organic search results.
How Can I Find Technical SEO Errors?
Technical SEO errors can hold back your site and prevent it from performing as well as it could in organic search. You need to be able to identify and fix issues promptly and keep on top of them.