What is search engine optimization (SEO)? It’s a question that’s more complicated than it may first appear but one that any entrepreneur or online marketer ought to learn the answer to.
If you want to build your brand or increase traffic to a site, SEO is going to play a critical part. To help get you started, read on to learn everything you need to know in order to understand SEO.
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization is what it sounds like, the optimization of a website or specific page to better appeal to the algorithms used by search engines.
Because of its massive market share, Google is usually prioritized in this optimization process. For most websites, ranking high on Google is both the ideal and will signal a high ranking on other search engines as well.
Almost any digital marketing strategy should include SEO as a key component as it is one of the most cost-effective ways to attract attention to a site.
The Almighty Algorithms
One of the hardest parts of understanding SEO is understanding the algorithms that guide what a given engine views as “good” content.
To avoid people gaming the system, Google and most other major companies hide the specifics of how their engines determine the quality of content. At the same time, some assumptions can be made based on what they do say and what experts have surmised.
Of what they do say about their algorithm, Google claims a given page is checked on five different levels.
Meaning of Your Query
The first thing that is checked for is what kind of webpage you’re trying to find. What’s interesting is how much more complex this topic is than one might expect.
Google tries to determine whether you’ve misspelled any words, convert your natural language into something more usable by the engine, and plenty more all at once.
This is perhaps the most important thing the algorithm checks for in that the goal is to find what you want. It also is going to guide the weight of the other components depending on how important they are to getting a good result.
Relevance of Webpages
Once it has decided the meaning of your query, the algorithm then tries to determine what pages are most relevant to you. The goal is to only show you sites likely to contain what you’re actually looking for.
This is where keywords, discussed more later, can play a big part. For example, searching “What is search engine optimization?” will have the algorithm show you web pages containing articles like this one.
As a rule, the algorithm tries to show you the most relevant pages first. However, less relevant pages (such as those that only mention SEO) might also show up, ideally (but not always) below those relevant to your search.
Quality of Content
Search algorithms try to determine the quality of a web page and this is the factor many newcomers to SEO fail at.
The mistake many companies make is stuffing their site with spammy content but this can do far more harm than good. As a rule, SEO-friendly content should offer genuine value to readers.
If the algorithm thinks your website offers low-quality content, it isn’t going to matter how many keywords you use.
Usability of Webpages
This point is a simple but important one. The better a website functions on multiple types of devices and browsers, the better it will rank.
Keep in mind that loading speeds are also a factor. Slow websites rank worse than faster ones, all else being equal.
Context and Settings
Finally, Google tries to determine what a user might want to see based on past searches and their current settings.
For instance, your location will weigh results relevant to where you live more favorably. Meanwhile, having SafeSearch active will filter out explicit results by default.
The Importance of Keywords
SEO is primarily done by targeting SEO-friendly keywords. These keywords (which are often more keyphrases) are words or phrases many people are searching for on search engines.
The trick is identifying keywords that are popular enough to attract traffic but not so competitive that your website will struggle to rank for them. In the early stages, SEO is often about knowing how specific to be.
For instance, “chocolate” is going to be difficult to rank for as many giant companies also want to rank high for that word. However, “chocolate store in Chicago” is more specific and may be easier to rank for while still being helpful.
Keywords aren’t the only factor that guides SEO but they’re one of the most important. At the same time, remember to use them in a meaningful way; spammy content ranks bad regardless of keyword usage.
Consider the Help of Professionals
It’s worth noting that including search engine optimization in your digital marketing plan isn’t always easy. Identifying good keywords and creating content around those keywords is a skill many entrepreneurs lack.
Many businesses hire on companies to create SEO content for them to save time and hassle. In fact, it can often be cost-effective to do so, since content made by experts may attract more customers than content you make yourself.
Check out these SEO services St. Petersburg if you’re curious about how such a company might be able to help you.
Climb the Ranks With SEO
What is search engine optimization? It’s the key to modern marketing. By optimizing a site for Google, more people can find your site without you needing to spend big on ad campaigns.
In a way, SEO-friendly content is free (or, if you hire a service, cost-effective) online advertising. Without a big-time investment or financial expense, you can often boost your web hits severalfold.
If you’d like to learn more about marketing, saving money or make money online, and a variety of other financial topics, explore our site. We’ve got more content like this to help give you an edge over your competition!