Whether you’re a blogger, an online business enthusiast, a multi-level marketer, or any other type of business owner, there is no getting around the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) in today’s online world. Anyone who has a website and wants it to be found needs to know what their SEO options are, and how to go about becoming more visible.
However, there seems to be a lot of confusion among many people on what exactly SEO is. Some people seem to mix it up with all different forms of online marketing such as paid advertisement placements, social media marketing, or even just blogging. While all of these things are related in one way or another, the truth is that search engine optimization needs to also be tackled independent of these other factors.
SEO is the more commonly used acronym for “Search Engine Optimization” and refers to the process of working to make a website or other online platform more popular with search sites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. In theory this helps a website rank higher for important search terms and makes that website easier for potential targeted visitors to find.
How Search Engines Work
Whenever you type something into a search engine, the websites you get back aren’t figured out at random. Each time some words are typed in and a search is made, the search engine tries to figure out what you want when you type in that search. Are you trying to shop? Looking for an informational website? Looking for reviews or a new bit of news or blog post?
The search engine brings up the ten websites it views as being a combination of the highest quality and the most likely to answer a searcher’s basic needs. Search engines also take into consideration factors like if a search query is best resolved by a video, a blog post, or even an infographic.
The best websites are ranked near the top few pages while ones that aren’t as good are buried.
Why Ranking Is Important
For anyone with a website, ranking on the first page is critical. Whether you are a blogger looking to build an audience, a business looking for new local customers, a news site competing for advertisers, or even a non-profit trying to spread your message the goal is the same: getting attention from the billions of people who go online each and every day. The best website in the world doesn’t do you any good at all if nobody is finding it.
In addition to this, the lion’s share of traffic comes from the very first page of results, and even the majority of that goes to the first three listings. While the percentages can change a little bit over time, for over a decade these numbers have been on point (and that’s an eternity in online time):
- Anywhere from 92% to 98% of all search traffic ends up going to a result on page one.
- 60-70% of total traffic never goes past the top three results.
That goes to show just how valuable those top spots are for any important keywords. If your website can’t get on the first page it’s not going to find anything but leftover crumbs as far as visitor numbers go. Even on the first page the difference between spot number one and the tenth spot is “HUGE” – even the difference from 3 to 5 is remarkable.
If you want attention and you want traffic, you need to rank towards the top on page one.
So What Is Proper Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization, or (SEO), is the process of building your website in such a way that the search engines are more likely to look at it favorably and rank it on the first page. This involves a wide variety of practices since there are actually over 200 different factors that go into grading a website and helping move them up or down for various keywords.
Search engine optimization is that actual practice of intentionally building, changing, or structuring a website and its support in a way that is believed to help make it look better in the eyes of Google and other search engines – thus moving up those search engine ranking pages (SERPs) and getting more traffic.
Generally speaking, SEO is often divided into two main focuses: on page optimization and off page optimization. While there are a few factors that blend the two together (or stays more independent) the far majority of ranking factors falls into one category or the other.
Google is usually my main search engine that I am focused on ranking my websites, ranking videos and other platforms on the first page for targeting specific keyword terms. The reason for this is that Google is the number one search engine in the world and millions of people are searching for products, services, reviews and solutions and if you have the answer for these potential clients than you do not want to miss out on building and growing your business by getting right in front of them by positioning yourself on prime digital real estate.
On Page SEO Optimization Factors
When someone was about what is SEO, they should learn that on page SEO refers to anything that is done on the website in a visible way. These are actions focusing on the front end of the website instead of the back end.
Just a few examples of this would include:
- High quality, relevant original content on the site or blog
- Proper meta, title, and alt tags
- Solid and safe coding that doesn’t contain malware or 404 error pages
- Easy to access “About” and “Contact” information pages
- Linking out to authority websites that are relevant and helpful
- Having a mobile version of your website, or a responsive theme
These are all various examples of things that can be done to help improve on page SEO and help a website move up the ranks.
Off Page SEO Optimization Factors
While off page SEO doesn’t get the attention that it used to, it is still an extremely important part of any optimization campaign. Off page refers to things that affect the website and how its viewed, but don’t directly relate to the on page content or coding.
Just a few examples include:
- Backlinks from relevant, trusted, and authoritative sources
- Age of the domain/website
- How fast your hosting is, and how often it is live (versus down)
- Your verifiable social media footprint online
- Consistent contact information listed the same on directories (especially important for small businesses)
These are important factors that do have a heavy effect on whether or not a website is going to rank on the first page or is going to buried much further down in the never-never land of search engine results.
Some “Blur The Lines” SEO Factors
There are always various factors that can be a bit more nebulous and hard to nail down than what falls under on page and off page SEO. These include things like “Authority” and “Trust” which are both rated as extremely important by Google, but figuring out exactly what those words mean in this context and how to build both is an entirely different matter.
While there are some general ideas, figuring out specifics is more difficult.
Famous/Infamous Google Algorithm Updates
Google tends to make a big update every year or couple of years, and these updates have gained fame or infamy among the SEO community depending on how people were affected. Reading up on these can give great insight into the direction that search engine marketing is heading. By knowing where it has been, where it’s going now, individuals can also have a better idea of where it will be in the future.
Just a few of them include:
- Florida Update
- Google Panda
- Google Penguin
What Is SEO – In Summary
As you can see, there isn’t one easy way to explain this process in a simple couple sentence blurb. Search engine optimization takes a lot of time and work, and to do it right means a strong knowledge that understands the best way to make a website look its best no matter what update is right around the corner. A great combination of on page and off page optimization is important to get to the top of the search engine rankings.