What is SEO and How Does it Work? Explained!
SEO is the short name of search engine optimization. It is the process webmasters use to optimize websites to reach the targeted traffic. This is achieved by ranking high on search engine results.
The goal of SEO is to get more up-paid or organic traffic on a website. In other words, certain changes are made on the design and content of a website so that it can be more attractive or friendly to the search engines. If your site is friendly to a search engine, it is rewarded by appearing at the top of the search results pages when a related keyword is searched.
Ranking high, especially on the main search engines line, Google translates to huge traffic. Statistics show that most of the clicks to a website go to pages that appear on the first pages of the search engine results.
Search engines capitalize on artificial intelligence to offer the best service and most relevant information to users. They achieve this objective by delivering high-quality results pages that are relevant to what was searched by a user.
To do this, a search engine crawls or scans various websites to understand their information. This understanding helps them to deliver relevant results to users searching for particular keywords or topics. Besides, search engines scan sites to determine how easy they are to read and navigate. Thus, user-friendly websites are rewarded with a higher ranking.
SEO techniques are mainly categorized into two: on-page and off-page SEO
Also referred to as on-site SEO, on-page SEO involves optimizing website pages to improve ranking and win more organic traffic. In essence, this technique enables search engines to understand a website and its content clearly. As such, that website is retrieved whenever a relevant keyword is searched.
Search engines are focusing more on relevance and semantics in their results pages. This involves understanding what a user wants through the search query and providing results that satisfy the user’s intent. Adapting to these developments is necessary and can be achieved through on-page optimization.
This technique considers various elements of a webpage that, when optimized, improves the visibility of a website. Some on-site factors that can influence ranking include the page content, title, meta description, sub-headings, images, and videos.
All the on-page SEO elements, including those visible to users and those only evident to search engines, should be optimized to guarantee expected results.
This practice is also known as off-site SEO. It constitutes efforts or activities taken outside a site to raise its ranking. While on-site optimization is often associated with link building, it is more than that.
The ultimate goal of off-page SEO efforts is to improve the perception of both the search engines and users about the authority, trustworthiness, relevance, and popularity of a website.
How SEO Works
At its core, SEO aims to draw organic traffic. It is worth noting that this practice requires patience since its result are not obtained overnight. In other words, it will take time before you begin to reap from your SEO efforts. But ultimately, when done correctly, it is very rewarding.
Without SEO, you may never reach your target audience. Similarly, people may never know your site exists. This means you will lose your target users to your competitors who are practising SEO. Thus if you care about reaching your target audience and gaining a significant market share, you should care about how SEO works.
Here is a quick and easy-to-understand overview of the SEO process.
- Keyword Research
At the onset, you need to determine the keywords you want to use and rank high on search engines. Keywords constitute words or phrases that users are likely to type on the search bar. To identify keywords that are popular and related to your services and products, you should perform keyword research.
The objective of this research is to know keywords that people use regularly to search for a particular product or service. Thus, using those keywords will guarantee that you will receive organic traffic to your site.
Several keyword research tools facilitate this process. The most popular is the Keyword Planner since it draws its data directly from Google, which is the leading search engine. Other than this, you can use KeywordTool.io, SEM Rush, KW Finder, and HOTH Keyword Planner.
Once you determine your keywords, you are set to create your content and optimize your site.
- Content Creation & On-Page SEO
Content is king in the SEO and website domain. Ensure to perform good research to know the kind of content that suits your audience. Besides, discover the content that ranks for your chosen keywords.
Identify areas of content that you can make better or different from what others have done. The goal is to generate the content of higher quality than that of competitors. You will attract more people and raise the ranking of your site by creating content of higher quality. Besides, other webmasters will link to your website without any of your link building efforts.
In every webpage, ensure to include your keyword in the content, page title, meta description, and at least one sub-heading.
- Link Building & Off-page Promotion
After creating your site and optimizing it, you need to promote it. Inbound linking is a vital off-page ranking factor. Ensure to obtain links from authoritative sites as that will be a vote of confidence. With inbound links, search engines reason that your site is trustworthy.
Other than link building, other off-site SEO factors that you should implement include influencer marketing, guest blogging, and social media marketing. The general consensus is that the relevance, trust, and authority of a website afford it a better chance to rank high on search engines.
Similar to on-page factors, off-page optimization elements have a significant percentage of influence on how a website ranks. While webmasters do not exercise direct control over what happens outside their sites, they can still raise their sites’ ranking through off-page optimization.
- User Experience
Search engines are keen on prioritizing websites with good user experience. Thus, ensure to have an easy-to-use site with intuitive navigation. In doing this, you will help users to move from one page to another, and quickly locate the information they need.
Besides, ensure that your site is mobile responsive and that it can load quickly. A slow loading site causes frustrations to users and causes them to leave. A high bounce rate hurts a site ranking.
Mobile responsiveness allows a site to be accessed on multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.