Updated: Aug 18, 2022
SEO is so vast that a single article can hardly cover every aspect. So, I'll attempt to provide a simplified overview of SEO, what you must know and do when it comes to SEO, why it is crucial, and, of course, the all-important relationship between your website SEO and search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo).
Alright, let's dive right in!
What is SEO?
SEO means Search Engine Optimization. The idea behind website SEO is pretty simple — to build more traffic to your website; after all, that's why your brand/business is online. As you throw content onto your site/blog, you also want people to see them. So, every practice, tactic or strategy, and process involved in realizing increased website exposure is what we call SEO.
SEO generally describes improving both the quality and quantity of website traffic and increasing a brand's visibility through organic search engine rankings. Note that this differs from Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which involves driving traffic and gaining brand visibility from paid and organic search engine rankings.
In a nutshell, SEO is the practice of positioning your website in a way that helps search engines pick it up and deliver your content to users as the best answer to their queries. This definition helps us understand SEO as a priceless two-sided coin. On the one hand, your website must offer great content, while on the other, search engine crawlers must be able to find and understand it.
In other words, it is not enough to know what people are looking for or have the solutions; your website content must equally be deliverable so that search engine crawlers can index them for those looking for what you're offering. Once you understand and implement this, you're already crushing your website SEO!
But that's not all there is to SEO.
Here's What You Must Know About SEO
Whether your website appears on the top of the list on search results, somewhere in the middle, or at the bottom is entirely based on merit. Search engines use an algorithm to select and display users' most helpful content.
When someone searches a keyword on Google, Googlebot — Google's web crawler, instantly runs through billions of materials online (web pages, images, videos, PDFs, etc.) and evaluates thousands of factors to help it decide which content offers the best answer to the user's query.
The role of search engines in all these is to provide a list of the best answers to every query in descending order by relevance. Search engines achieve this through a process called Crawling and Indexing. It then lists each web content by how well it matches the user's query. This process is what is known as “ranking.”
Essentially, the ranking of your website depends, in part, on how well its content matches what people are searching for. Proceed to the next section to learn more about ranking.
Why is SEO Important?
Organic traffic is the most crucial reason you should pay serious attention to SEO. SEO drives organic traffic to your website because it is free publicity. When users click on your page, you are not paying to appear on search engine result pages (SERPs). If you run a paid ad on Google, you will have to pay each time a user clicks and visits your website.
Essentially, the primary benefit of SEO is organic traffic. If you get everything right, you can get a free flow of constant traffic to your site. These days, featured snippets (short snippets of texts that appear at the top of Google's search results that answer questions at a glance. The content appears inside of a box) are another technique for achieving organic ranking that people use to boost the visibility of their sites on SERPs.
It would interest you to know that more than 80% of search engine results are organic traffic. Only a few of them are paid ads. Organic search results look more credible and receive more clicks than paid Google ads. Also, most traffic generated online is through search engines, not social media and other online platforms. According to some intriguing statistics from Moz about SEO, we understand that SEO produces 20 times more traffic opportunities than pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
I guess it makes so much sense to take SEO seriously after all. Unlike paid advertising, if you create and publish solid content on relevant keywords (note that people often search for things using certain words or phrases, known as keywords), you will enjoy the benefits for a long time without doing anything extra. On the other hand, paid ads need continuous funding to be adequate.
So when you optimize your site, you help search engines deliver good content to users whenever they come searching. In other words, even search engines need your help to help you stay visible to people who need what you're offering. So how exactly do you help search engines deliver the best content on SERPs?
You should observe a few practices to optimize your website for increased exposure online. But you can either perform basic SEO yourself or hire professionals to do the job.
SEO Best Practices
You must do these things to enable search engines to optimally deliver your content to users. By doing these, you improve your website ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). This is another broad area of SEO, but in a nutshell, these include but are not limited to:
● Writing unique titles and descriptions (title tags and meta description tags) for every content you publish on your site.
● Improving the user experience of your website
● Creating very useful content
● Using relevant, ranking keywords in the body of your web content
● Optimizing your site’s loading speed.
● Using internal links and also linking to websites that rank high on SERPs
● Building valuable backlinks to your website.
White Hat and Black Hat SEO
White hat SEO is any SEO technique or practice that helps you improve your site's ranking on SERPs while abiding by search engine policies. White hat SEO primarily focuses on providing the best content to users.
On the other hand, Black hat SEO refers to any technique or practice that attempts to spam or fool search engines to achieve a high SERPs ranking. For instance, using strategies that improve your website's ranking without delivering unique content to users is black hat SEO. The disadvantage is that Google can penalize your website or delist/de-index it from search results.
That’s bad for businesses, so you want to avoid that. You want to also watch out for this when hiring an SEO expert or agency.
SEO generally involves everything that improves the ranking of a website and helps the owner maximize their presence online. SEO is necessary to harness the advantages of having a business/brand website. It is the most effective way to build organic traffic to your website.