What Is SEO?

SEO details imageIf you’re new to online marketing, chances are that you’ve been confused by all the different advice from people about how to get started. You want to stay up-to-date with all the latest strategies and techniques and make sure that your customers will be able to easily find you. Some say all that’s needed is a website and everything is set for thousands of customers to find you.

The problem is, many believe that once the website or blog is set up, the hard work has already been done. Unfortunately, that is not true. It doesn’t take much to discover there’s far more involved in gaining Internet exposure than just having a website. It’s time to put on a whole new hat to drive people to your web pages. This is called search engine optimization or SEO.

What Is It?

If you’re not sure what SEO is, think of it this way. If you’re a customer new to a city and not sure where to buy the things you need, you’re going to need some sort of directions on not only where to go but what to look for. In the olden days, we reached for the handy Yellow Pages and let our fingers do the walking but in the digital age, we reach for our tablets, smart phones, laptops, and any other handy gadget and type in a search query.

What many people don’t automatically understand is that every time they choose to search the Internet for something they need, they have to use a search engine. There are several search engines people use without even realizing it. The biggest search engine is Google, followed by Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL. Of course, these are not the only search engines online but they are the top five that the majority of people on this planet prefer to use.

It Has to Do with Search Engines

The purpose of the search engine is two-fold. First of all, it takes a glimpse of everything that is posted on the World Wide Web and uses it to build an index system. Remember that city you just moved to that you’re still trying to get around in? The Internet is like a huge subway system where each of the billions of pages posted online is a single stop on its route. The search engine looks through this entire city and maps out several routes to get to the places you’re looking for. These routes are called links.

Once the search engine finds the routes, it compiles this information into different databases that it taps into whenever people type in what they’re looking for into the search bar. To better facilitate the speed in the search, all of this data is not held in one single database but is spread out over thousands of locations around the globe. That way, when someone performs a search the information that comes back doesn’t have to travel half way around the world, it’s almost instantaneous. Within one or two seconds, the information is at that person’s fingertips.

You Need to Rank High In Search Results

The second function of the search engine is to compile a ranking list. This list is ranked by priority. Based on the words used in a particular search query, the search engine will deliver a search results list that contain the sites that it considers to be relevant or useful for what a user might be looking for. It lists the sites from the most relevant, the next most relevant, and so on. This is where SEO becomes vital because you will want your site to be considered by the search engine to be on the front page of the search results list for that particular keyword that is relevant to your business. Studies have shown that most people would browse only the first page of the list, so if your site is listed way below, people are not likely to see it.

Search Engines Use Complicated Algorithms to Determine Rankings

Complicated and well-protected algorithms (a set of mathematical formulas that are applied in calculations used to solve problems) are used to determine these rankings. These are not simple equations but most likely consist of hundreds if not thousands of variables called ranking factors, which are updated regularly. Since these algorithms are kept secret, those who work in search engine optimization glean much of their information about what ranks high by studying and analyzing the characteristics of those sites that already have a high ranking.

Your goal, when you get your website up and running is to get top ranking in these search results for certain keywords. Since these algorithms are kept secret, the role of search engine optimization is to find a way for your site to get into the top rankings. This is the primary role of an SEO Company.

How Is It Done?

As you can probably guess, getting top ranking on search engines is much easier said than done. There are several strategies that experts will use including what is called on-page optimization and off-page optimization.

SEO Experts Use Various Strategies

On-page optimization are things that can be done directly on your website to help these search engines to find you. This could include using specific words or keywords that a potential customer may use to search for what they’re looking for. You can use these words in your title, in the headings of your content, and throughout your page.

Off-page optimization is taking advantage of things that may connect your site to other sites already recognized for their authority in your specific niche. These could include using links to other similar sites, to experts in your field, and to online locations in similar fields of interest. The more links to your site, the higher rankings you might get.

The Goal of SEO Is a Moving Target

In simple terms, SEO is this: when you perform a specific search online, the engine does the walking through the countless databases around the world. The SEO strategies you use will determine just how easily your website can be found. When the search engine crawls through the billions of pages of information online, it will compile an index, which is stored in the databases around the globe. By making sure that you apply as many of the different strategies as you can in both on-page optimization and off-page optimization you get your site ranked high by the search engines for your targeted keywords.

However, it should be noted that search engines regularly update their algorithms in an attempt to provide better results for searchers. The result is that SEO strategies also need to be updated regularly.

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