Chances are you’ve already heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Perhaps, from online marketers talking about it- a lot, or you may have even read about it. But what does SEO mean?
SEO pertains to the process of improving your website’s visibility in search engines, which you can achieve by optimizing your site for specific keywords that people type into their search bars when searching for something on the internet.
Here’s your guide to SEO meaning and how to use it to outrank your competition on Google.
Table of Contents
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): What is It?
SEO is the acronym for “Search Engine Optimization”, which is the cumulative optimization efforts you condone to get your website and it’s pages to show higher on the organic “un-paid” area of Search Engine Result Pages of Google, Bing and other search engines.
Search engine optimization includes everything you do –a one-off and continuous tasks or On-page and off-page SEO – to improve the visibility of your website online.
Visibility in this sense means helping users find your content when the query search engines for a related product or services.
Sure, this SEO meaning is simplistic. It doesn’t take into account the technical and other moving parts of the field. However, it sure captures the essence of what Search Engine Optimization is about.
Now let’s dig a little deeper and learn about how SEO works and how to use it to gain more business.
Why is SEO important?
SEO is an excellent strategy to get more traffic and increase the number of visitors to your site.
Any SEO campaign aims to ensure that as many people see you as possible, which means getting found in Google, Bing, Yahoo, or other search engines.
SEO is an essential part of your marketing strategy to grow your business online. Having high-quality content written will help drive traffic to your website if you have a new product or service. It can also help with conversions if you sell products or services.
Interesting Facts About SEO you Should Know
To gain from search engines, you need to perform SEO, whether you are a small, mid-sized, large business, or a solopreneur.
Below are some interesting facts about SEO:
- About 89 percent of B2B customers turn to major search engines when looking up services and products.
- 4 in 5 consumers search to learn more about nearby businesses, and 51% of website traffic comes from search engines.
- According to Infront Webworks, websites that rank first on the Google results receive 95% of web traffic.
As you can see, it isn’t just enough to have a website nowadays. Your customers should find your content when searching for answers on search engines.
And to gain the most traffic possible, your website must secure a position on the first page of Google results.
Ideally, your goal is to aim for the first three positions because 32.5 percent of the total traffic on Google’s first page shares the average traffic.
The question is how to get your website to rank on top in search engine result pages?
Our goal is to help you:
- Understand the meaning of SEO
- Build foundational knowledge of SEO.
- Understand how common search engines work.
- Learn practical and effective SEO tips on understanding customers’ search intents.
- Build and optimize your site and content for search engines and humans.
- Learn how to promote your website properly
- Understand the future of search.
So, if you’re ready, let’s dig in.
The Goal of Search Engine Optimization
SEO combines techniques that aim to improve the visibility of a website in search engines by achieving the following:
- First, get search engines to discover, crawl, index, and rank your website.
- Second, get your website plus content in front of users when they need it.
- Third, make sure that your website appears at the top of the list.
- Finally, to keep your website there.
It sounds simple, but it’s actually quite complex. Let’s discuss each one of these points.
The focus of the first objective is to satisfy the technical aspect of SEO which is to improve all the ranking signals search engines use to organize and rank web pages.
On the other hand, the second objective is human-centric. It aims to put your website in distinctive positions across users’ options by answering or solving users’ questions and problems through relevant, timely, and helpful content.
Third, SEO aims to position your website at the top of the list. It means getting high rankings in major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.
Lastly, SEO ensures that your website stays at the top of the search results. That means keeping your site visible to new visitors who come back to visit again and again.
From the above, it’s clear that SEO success depends on developing a two-prong strategy that includes understanding and satisfying search engine requirements and providing an excellent user experience at the same time.
After establishing the basics, the next step is understanding how search engines work and identifying why people search.
How do search engines work?
Over the years, as technology improves, so does search engines’ ability to index and retrieve information on the web.
Even though today, Google which is the major search engine on the planet has grown to become one complex mash of machine.
If you’re able to peel back layer by layer all the components, systems and processes that make the giant search engine tick, you’re going to be left with the following core functions:
- A web crawler or spider as the bots are called which discovers a new or updated web page.
- It crawls the discovered web page. Crawling here means gathering as much information as it can about the new page.
- The information is indexed. Using several ranking factors, the search engine tries to organize the information according to how relevant and trustworthy they believe the content is.
- When a user queries the search engine, Google retrieves and serves up several web pages they believe can answer and or solve the user’s problems
So, when Search Engine Optimizing your website, you’re making your web pages visible to search engines and doing everything possible for the web crawler to crawl and then index your pages.
It is essential however, to know you can instruct these web crawlers to crawl only specific web pages while restricting them from indexing other parts or even completely shutting the web crawlers out from crawling your entire website.
A quick way to suggest to web crawlers which part of your site it should or shouldn’t crawl is to upload a robot.txt file to the root directory of your website.
When Googlebot – that’s what Google’s web crawlers are called – lands on your website it first checks the root directory to see whether there’s any robots.txt file.
If it can’t find any robot.txt the Googlebot then proceeds to crawl your site. However, if there’s a robot.txt file uploaded on your site, the bot tries to stay away from crawling and indexing the pages listed there.
Understanding user search intent
Remember, you’re optimizing your website for people and search engines. SEO today has evolved to become not just about the search engines but, a balancing act between technical know-how and marketing.
You want to be right at the moment when users begin their search journey. You want to be right there answering all their questions, providing them with the relevant information they need to make informed decisions, and to be there when they are ready to make a purchase.
To do this, you’ll need to understand your customer’s behavior – how they move across different devices. You’ll need to have a firm grasp of searcher intent to produce content that matches user queries at every stage of the buying process.
When searchers query the search engines, they are looking to accomplish either of the following: gather a more general information on a topic or specifically looking to find information on the keywords they have used.
These search intents are further classified into three categories: Transactional, navigational and informational queries. Each of these search intent also marks a specific phase in the user journey.
- If they are searching for general information about a topic?
- Are they looking to achieve a specific action, buy a product, solve a problem, do something?
- Or are they looking for direction to a specific location or website?
You must anticipate these intents. Create content that answers or solves these questions. Then, optimize the content so that when the user searches with related keywords, your content shows up.
How to do search engine optimized content marketing
The ideal content is the one that cuts across the three search intents we’ve discussed above.
Here’s a guide that helps you learn how to create content your users love.
For instance, you’ve done your keyword research. You have a list of essential keywords and phrases you want to rank for.
You may check this handy guide on conducting keyword research if you haven’t.
An example of which is “best winter running shoes.” By looking at this phrase, it seems like a good keyword with transactional intent to rank for your homepage, right?
A quick trick to understanding search intent for any keyword is to Google the term and check out the pages ranking for them.
So, for our example, “best winter running shoes,” – a Google search shows all the web pages ranking for the term are review and listicle articles, which indicate that the search intent for the query is informational.
Not what you expected, huh?
Here’s what’s happening. Remember, search engines’ goal is to improve its users’ experiences. So, usually, their algorithm looks out for how people react and behave when they search using a particular term.
- Does the user click on the websites on the SERP?
- When they click on the links, do they spend enough time going through the content on the website?
- Or, do they hit the back button immediately and return to the SERP?
Answers to these questions are what tell Google the kind of content users are looking for when they search a particular term; hence, the double down on serving those kinds of content.
Now, armed with these insights you can go ahead and create content that aligns with users’ search intent.
For our illustration, you will have to create either a review post or a list of best winter running shoes.
Technical SEO- What is Technical SEO?
As the name suggests refers to all the technical tasks like On-page SEO and off-page SEO you perform to optimize and rank a website and optimize it for both search engines and humans.
Each one is essential to the success of your search engine optimization campaign in today’s digital world.
Simply putting a website together with content about what you do will no longer suffice when it comes to gaining actual traffic and showing up on Google.
On-page SEO- What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO/ Search Engine Optimization includes everything you do on your website and web pages to make it easier for search engines to understand what the page is about to rank it for relevant keywords and searches you want to show up for.
And, there are about 16 of such factors to optimize for:
- Strategically place your keyword at the beginning of the SEO title, Meta description, and sub-H tags where possible.
- Use short descriptive URL
- Keep your page title to a 60-character limit.
- Optimize your image file name with the keywords; also use descriptive alt tag that includes your keyword for images
- Mix up your exact keywords with synonyms and other LSI key-phrases.
- Link internally to other resources on your website
- Link to other high trust and quality websites
- Improve your site speed. To monitor how fast your website loads, use Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix they are both free to use and also highlights actions you can take to boost site speed.
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
For a more exhaustive list, check out Backlinko’s infographic on On-page SEO.
If you want On-page SEO services to take care of this, checkout BrandLume’s All-in-one On-Page SEO Services
Importance of on-page SEO- Why does on-page SEO matter?
On-site/ On-page SEO at its core is focused on improving the visibility of your content on search engines when related keywords are searched while providing a website visitor with the best possible experience.
Take, for instance, Website speed optimization as one of the On-Page optimization techniques; it eliminates anything that could cause a noticeable lag in the website load speed.
And, as the study has shown users expect webpages to load within 3 seconds. If for whatever reason your website takes longer to load, 53 percent of users will abandon your site.
Besides, to a potential loss in revenue, Google uses site speed as a ranking factor which means, you could also lose your ranking on the search results.
Off-Page SEO- What is off-page SEO?
As the name suggests, off-page SEO is a cumulation of every effort made outside of a website to improve its visibility on search engines and drives traffic and link juice/ authority to a website.
Off-page SEO techniques: include things like building backlinks and other external activities like social media mentions and local listing of your business.
Here are a few of the best off-page SEO techniques that play into your website’s ranking on SERPs:
Social media marketing – Learn more about how you can leverage social media to grow your business even if you’re a noob.
Press Release marketing – Here is an Ultimate guide on How to do Press Releases.
Guest Blogging – This can greatly improve your ranking in a very short time.
Local Business Listing on Directories – Listing your business on important and relevant local listing directories is an immensely powerful Off-page Technique
In-Content Link Building – This link building technique works by posting blogs with anchor links to your website on popular high DA websites.
Homepage Permanent Backlinks – These backlinks are super powerful and very hard to get, but can massively improve your Off-page SEO as the links are placed on the root domain/home page of a high DA website to you.
These premium off-page SEO techniques are what you should expect to get from a top SEO agency to build awareness; drive visits, and ultimately improve your websites’ rankings on search engines.
Why is off-page SEO important?
Search engines are constantly trying to return the most trusted, most relevant results to users’ queries. To do this, the search engine algorithm relies on several ranking signals which also includes off-page SEO factors.
Search algorithms look at the number and quality of links pointing to a site to decide the trustworthiness of that website.
If your website has several natural links pointing to it; and, if these links are coming from trusted websites; it tells the search engine one thing: People trust this site, so I can trust it too.
While building backlinks to your website is easily the most used off-page technique; be sure that the links:
- Are from trusted websites
- Coming from related websites
- The anchor text is not spammy
Want to learn more about SEO Backlinking? Check out our ultimate guide for SEO Link Building.
Remember, your goal with off-page Search Engine Optimization is to promote your website and improve its user & search engine perception, aiming to, rank on top of Google’s first page for the target keywords.
How can I learn SEO?
You need to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. The more you understand the basics of search engine optimization, the better your results.
If you don’t have the basic knowledge of how search engines work, you won’t be able to optimize your site effectively.
SEO is an integral aspect of any website. It’s a field that requires constant learning and improvement and an understanding how search engines work.
If you want to make sure your site ranks high on Google, BrandLume can provide SEO services for small businesses looking to grow their online presence.
We can help you get started with our SEO audit, or we can take it from there. We understand and believe that every client and business is unique, so we offer a range of packages to suit all budgets, including:
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research involves the identification of keywords that will bring people to your site. These keywords should be related to your business but not too generic. Generic keywords are those that don’t have much meaning for searchers.
Also, when conducting keyword research, it’s best to use the correct SEO research tools that can help make the job faster and more efficient.
2) On-Page Optimization
Ensure that all content relevant to the keyword is present on the page. For example, if someone searches for “flower delivery,” it would be good to include flower images, descriptions, prices, and contact information on the page.
You want to make sure that these elements are optimized with the keyword so that when someone types this into a search engine, your website shows up first.
3) Off-page Optimization
It refers to improving your backlinks (links from other websites pointing to yours). If there are many high-quality backlinks to your site, it will help boost your rankings.
You can do this by guest posting, social bookmarking, forum posting, blog commenting, and article writing.
4) Content Marketing
It means providing valuable, informative content that answers questions and solves problems. When people type in their keywords, they expect to find helpful information about them. So, if you provide them with articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc., they will return.
5) Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a marketing approach that uses social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and others to promote your business. By sharing interesting posts and engaging with followers, you’ll build trust and credibility.
6) Link Building
It means getting backlinks from other sites. It’s one of the most-known effective ways to improve your ranking because it gives you authority. People who link to you say that they think your site is valuable enough to add to theirs.
7) Email Marketing
It is the sending of emails to customers and prospects. It is another excellent way to keep in touch with current and potential clients. It’s also one of the most cost-effective ways to reach potential customers.
You can send emails for free, but you need to use an email service provider (ESP). An ESP offers many features such as spam filtering, deliverability, and security. An ESP offers many features such as spam filtering, deliverability, and security.
8) Reputation Management
Reputation management is the process of monitoring, managing, and improving a brand’s online reputation. It helps you identify issues early and take action before they become big problems.
It includes monitoring social media sites for negative comments about your company or business, responding to these comments, and removing damaging material.
9) Mobile Marketing
It focuses on targeting mobile users by creating apps, having responsive web pages, and using SMS marketing. It’s important to remember that Google doesn’t always show mobile-friendly websites at the top of its search results.
10) Local Search
Local search is a necessary part of any SEO strategy. It’s the most effective way to get more traffic and conversions from local searches, typically done on mobile devices.
You can use Google My Business (GMB), Facebook Places, Foursquare, Yelp, Bing Maps, and other tools to optimize your listing and attract new customers.
11) SEO Analytics
SEO Analytics is a web analytics service provided by Google that provides detailed information about the performance of websites.
It is based on data collected from users who visit websites using Google’s search engine and other services, such as YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, and AdWords.
The tool shows how well each page performs, how much time visitors spend on each page, what browsers they use, and how they arrive at the website.
Understanding the future of search
The internet is a fantastic place. It’s a vast, sprawling network of information and knowledge that anyone can access, but it’s not without its challenges. Multiple factors affect how well your website ranks in search engines today, tomorrow, and years down the road.
Search engines have been around for decades now, but their algorithms have changed drastically. They’ve evolved into something completely different from what they were initially designed to do. And as we rely heavily on them to power our daily lives, it’s an important game to master when driving traffic and sales.
With all this change happening, it’s essential to understand where search engines are headed next. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
What’s next for SEO?
As technology advances, so do the way and manner in which people query search engines change. New devices will come into play. And, SEOs will have to optimize for those devices too.
We are witnessing the rise of voice search which is the new frontier for SEOs. Just as we had, mobiles dominate desktop as the search channel, Voice is on track to become the preferred search channel for users.
Search engines, at least Google is moving towards an AI-powered algorithm which will completely revolutionize the way we optimize websites.
However, regardless of the changes new technologies bring, humans will always be at the center of the search. Hence, to conquer the SERPs of the future you will have to focus on providing excellent user experience; just as it is the case today.
If you need non-sales SEO expert advice on what you need to get on and stay on the first page of Google, then book a Free 30 minute SEO consultation with one of BrandLume’s SEO experts.
You can also check out our world-famous SEO services with up-front prices and no long-term contracts Here. These SEO services are used by over 8200 companies and 300 agencies worldwide.
Choose The Best SEO Marketing Services For Your Brand
Nowadays, businesses are running multiple campaigns simultaneously to increase their visibility in the market. To be successful in your chosen niche or industry, you must choose the best SEO marketing services for your brand. If you don’t, then your competitors will overtake you.
Here at BrandLume, we offer a wide range of SEO services to help brands succeed in the digital world. Start with a free SEO consultation to learn more about our services.
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