What Is SEO?

What Is SEO?

What is SEO and how does it work?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO practitioners optimize websites, web pages and content for the purposes of ranking higher in search engines, like Google. SEO is a set of practices designed to improve the appearance, positioning, and usefulness of multiple types of content in the organic search results. This content can include web pages, video media, images, local business listings, and other assets.

How do search engines work?

Search engines use crawlers (also known as spiders or bots) to gather information across the internet to populate their big databases, called “indexes”. Crawlers begin from a known web page and then follow links from that page to other pages.

Search engines’ success as businesses depends on the public finding search engine results to be relevant to their needs. The more links a search engine like Google finds pointing from a particular type of content to a particular resource, the more confident it becomes that the linked-to resource is relevant to certain search queries. The search engine then determines that this resource deserves to be ranked highly when people make those queries.

There are three main categories of SEO: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO, all of which combine to help search engines discover, crawl, index, understand, and rank the content, and this article will cover each of these topics.

Why is SEO important?

A significant reason that SEO matters is because it helps online publishers appear within the results displayed by search engines. In response to a query, a search engine like Google can return a wide variety of results.

1. Traditional Organic Results

Google’s most familiar results are the traditional organic results, which consist of links to website pages ranked in a particular order based on Google’s algorithms. Search engine algorithms are a set of formulae the search engine uses to determine the relevance of possible results to a user’s query. In the past, Google commonly returned a page of 10 organic results for each query, but now this number can vary widely, and the number of results will differ depending on whether the searcher is using a desktop computer, mobile phone, or other device.

2. SERP Features

Beyond the traditional organic results, search engines can surface a variety of other displays which can be categorized under the umbrella term “SERP features”. There are many kinds of SERP features including but not limited to:

  • Local pack results
  • Google Business Profiles
  • Knowledge panels
  • Sitelinks
  • Featured Snippets
  • Image packs and image carousels
  • Video packs
  • People Also Ask features
  • Related searches
  • Plus additional SERP features for news results, hotel and travel results, shopping, FAQs, job listings, and more.

There are also additional SERP features for news results, hotel and travel results, shopping, FAQs, job listings, and more. SEO is important because it influences what search engines surface for all of these results and features.

What SEO doesn’t influence is any SERP component that has been paid for by an advertiser. Any time a result is labeled “sponsored”, we know it is a paid ad placement and not influenced by the SEO efforts, but nearly all of the other types of results search engines display are highly impacted by the optimization strategy.

Finally, it’s important to know that exemple Google is currently in the early stages of offering Artificial Intelligence-based content to searchers. The degree to which AI content can be impacted by SEO is, as yet, unknown.

What are the main goals of SEO?

While every SEO campaign can have unique goals, most online publishers are united in wanting to achieve some or all of the five following results from their investment in optimization:

  • More visibility in the SERPs
  • More traffic to the website and other assets
  • Better quality traffic to the website and other assets
  • Greater intelligibility to the public
  • Greater intelligibility to search engines

Which SEO factors influence search engines?

Optimizing the web site generally involves three key focus areas: On-page, off-page and technical SEO.

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing the website contents so search engines and humans can easily digest it. Technical SEO is any sufficient technical action undertaken with the intent of improving search results, usually through making your site function efficiently. Off-page SEO involves actions taken outside of the website to impact your rankings.

Together they combine to create a solid foundation to enable to reach the target audience.

What are the top organic search ranking factors?

Over the past few decades, SEO professionals have made many ongoing efforts to identify as many of Google’s proprietary organic rankings factors as possible, and to attempt to organize them in the order by which they appear to influence rankings. A list of such factors could include, but not be limited to:

  • On-page factors
  • User behavior factors
  • Link factors
  • Core update factors
  • Local guidelines factors
  • Spam factors