What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a digital marketing practice, which increases your website traffic by bringing it to the very top of Google and other search engines results pages. This way, the website gains multiple new qualitative users for free.
*I often meet people who consider SEO optimization valuable only for Google search results, which is incorrect. Well-thought-through website optimization will allow it to gain more visibility through other search engines as well.
Website optimization in response to search engine demands
At the core of every single search engine is an algorithm, which rates and arranges search results based on different criteria (30 most important factors). The greater the compliance with these criteria, the higher the ranking, which, in turn, translates into a higher placement among the offered search results.
The goal of such an algorithm is to offer the most relevant, high-quality answers to the topic the user has searched for. Google and other search engines compete for the loyalty of their customers by providing the best search results. Otherwise, dissatisfied users would switch to other services and damage the particular company’s business operations. To stay effective, companies like Google are constantly improving and refining their algorithms (timeline of all algorythm updates).
SEO optimization means developing a new website or optimizing a pre-existing one in response to the intricacies of these algorithms. Countless experiments, our experience and officially available information on the topic have allowed us to understand algorithmic preferences. SEO is a process of implementing this knowledge for practical gains.
When evaluating a website, Google and other search engines consider several different factors. To better understand this process, it is useful to categorize them as follows:
- Technical factors;
- On-page factors;
- Off-page factors.
Technical optimization factors concern the technical foundation of a website. On-page optimization factors are responsible for the comprehensibility of its contents to a search engine. Meanwhile, off-page optimization relates to factors linked to the website’s overall status and popularity online.
Each factor has its weight and influence. For instance, it is naive to disregard technical optimization, i.e., the power of an effective website foundation. Similarly, a strong technical basis with weak (or rather unsuccessfully formatted and presented) content also results in low ratings by the algorithm. Only the combination of thought-through technical, on-page and off-page optimization will allow the page to overtake the top search result position.
Where to begin SEO?
Similarly to building a house, the first step is looking at its foundation. Here it means ensuring that a website is accessible to the search engine robots, that it is safe and that it has competitive download speed. Crucially, it also has to be adaptable to mobile devices. Google emphasizes this feature in its algorithm in response to the increasing global mobile device usage. The more capable devices become, the higher are the numbers of users choosing to access the internet through their mobile phones.
Once the technical foundation is ready, the next task is to create content comprehensible for the search engine. It involves the correct formatting of text body and headlines, as well as assessing the potential reach and weight of the content. For instance, researching keywords about the topic reveals the main textual elements, which will respond to the search engines best and are, thus, worth using.
Google and other search engines also evaluate the overall online popularity of the website. If they see references to it among several other websites, search engines automatically conclude that your website holds some authority on the topic. Therefore, it is seen as more reputable and placed at the very top of the search results page. Such references (backlinks) are among the most valuable factors driving SEO. However, it is not worth capitalizing on it at the very beginning of the optimization process. It will take some time for the website to grow in popularity and, thus, to attract organic references. Instead, it is worth paying attention to the social media presence and sharing website contents through them. Platforms like Facebook and Linkedin are highly effective for this.
SEO is a digital marketing practice aimed at equipping websites with an effective response to the search engine demands. It allows elevating a website to the top search result position and gaining new user traffic in a relatively short time. The newly attracted traffic is free and, in some instances, can even replace advertising altogether. To achieve great results, it is crucial to understand different search engine algorithms and the factors they are evaluating. These can be split into three categories: technical, on-page and off-page factors. A successful SEO strategy involves the optimization of all three.