What is SEO? A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

In today’s world we all know that Google is king. We turn to the search platform with pretty much all of our questions. So it’s no wonder that everyone is trying to do what they can to make their information findable on Google. Which is exactly what SEO is - the practice of optimizing your content to appear higher within search results.

From creating a great website to writing the proper metadata, implementing SEO tactics can take a lot of work. And, unfortunately, it is not enough to simply get your information out there. Studies show that 75% of all clicks on search engines go to the top three results. That is to say that only 25% of clicks are spread out across the hundreds or thousands of other results. In other words, you want to be sure to be ranking amongst those top three.

That’s why it is absolutely essential that you are paying attention to the small details on your site. This article will cover what it takes to implement all of those details and make sure that they are meeting SEO standards.

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing websites so that they rank well on search engines through organic (non paid) searches.

In other words, your website needs to satisfy certain cues that platforms like Google look for. Because Google is looking to provide a positive user experience for its searchers, it wants to present the best possible information available. SEO is essentially the process of making sure search engines recognize your content as the best information on the web for a particular search query.

How do search engines work?

As you now know, SEO is basically the practice of pleasing search engines. But how do search engines work? How do they know what your website contains?

Search engines use robots that crawl web pages across the internet in order to determine what content they contain. Once they’ve gathered enough information, they add these pages to their index. Then their algorithm basically matches a user’s search query to the relevant information in their index, providing searchers with an accurate answer to their query.

It’s important to note that Google does not release specifics about their algorithm and therefore it is impossible to know for sure exactly how various SEO strategies are considered.

On-page vs. off-page SEO

SEO is impacted by a number of different factors. As there is no way to know exactly what influences search engine rankings the most, experts recommend that your SEO strategy contains a cocktail of tactics. Those tactics can largely be broken down into two categories: on-page and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO refers to the strategies that you implement on your site itself, including everything from the design and text to your metadata, alt text and more. Off-page SEO refers to the steps you take outside of your website. This includes things like external links, social posts and other website promotion methods.

Both on-page and off-page SEO are essential in driving traffic to your site and in ultimately signaling to Google that your site is a significant player. By letting Google know that your site is important and that people are interested in learning about what you have to offer, you are helping your pages rank higher and gain more traffic.

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