What SEO Really Is
SEO necessarily an advertising service in-and-of itself. SEO is short for search engine optimization, which basically means the work of optimizing a website in order for it to look better in the “eyes” of search engines which in turn is rewarded with a higher position. The fact of the matter is, very few people who search Google, Yahoo, or Bing look as far as the second page of results when they search a keyword, or even to the end of the first page.
Business websites that have any real, measurable traffic from search engine users are in constant competition to be the first three or four links of a search results page. Search engine users demand convenience, and if your website doesn’t appear immediately, they don’t bother to keep looking. Instead, they just write a new set of keywords in the box and start from scratch, which is why SEO is important.
How SEO Works
SEO has two main components, on-site SEO and off-site SEO. Google and other search engines rank a site based on these two factors. The higher a website’s ranking is among other, similar pages determines how high it appears on the list of search results.
On-site SEO works by optimizing your website to meet the ever-changing criteria for search engine rankings. The elements of onsite SEO are:
- Behind the scenes – Several, behind-the-scenes, changes are typically made to help search engines better understand your website and make it easier for search engines to read your site such as a sitemap and robot.txt file.
- Page titles that are relevant to its page content, informative and include targeted search terms while sounding fluid and helpful.
- Meta tag descriptions are used by search engines to display on search engines listings for the purpose of describing the content of the page that’s being listed. The description should also be informative, include key terms, and clearly communicate what the page is about.
- All content on the website must be original, well-written, and most importantly, valuable. Customers are not necessarily interested in being told you are the best, they want your information to be informative, organic, and genuinely helpful. Search engines expect nothing less.
These are just the basics of what makes on-site SEO work. Real SEO takes a lot of time, effort, and skill to make it work properly for your website because it such an involved and complex system.
How Off-Site SEO Works
Since its founding, Google has mainly concerned itself with how often a website is referenced by other websites to determine its relevance or popularity. Other search engines caught on to this process and adapted it to their own specifications, making it the go-to model for ranking a website worldwide.
The process has changed a bit over the years, but off-site SEO still works almost entirely by generating links to your site (backlinking) from other websites. The types of links SEO uses are:
- Inbound Links – These are links that other websites that have a good ranking with Google provides for your website. The more inbound links, or backlinks, you have from other credible pages, the higher Google and other search engines will rank your own site.
- Exchanged Links – Exchanged links are a common practice to create viable inbound links. In this way, a webmaster will effectively put up a link to another site in exchange for the same courtesy. While these two-way links still provide a boost to you website’s overall ranking, they aren’t quite as meaningful to search engines as a one-way inbound link.
- Deep Links – So-called “deep links” are inbound links that bring a user directly to the inner content of your website, as opposed to the homepage. Deep links are widely considered the most important aspect of SEO because it proves that your inner content is providing good, relevant information based on the fact that other websites are willing to cite your material.
Making SEO Work For Your Website
In order to make full use of SEO for your own site, you have to be able to employ both on-site SEO and off-site SEO. Doing that takes a lot of time, effort, and a specialized set of skills that some people take years to learn. As search engines continue to fine-tune their ranking process it is becoming more and more difficult for SEO work to be done by businesses and webmasters.
It is now a common practice to outsource SEO work to a professional service. In this way, a company can take full advantage of the benefits that SEO can offer. Getting to the top of a search result’s list is not an easy task, but professionals have access to techniques that are proven to work best.