What Is SEO and How Does It Work?

What Is SEO and How Does It Work?

The somewhat cryptic SEO acronym remains a mystery to both new business owners and those who have already done a fair share of their research in digital marketing. Although most influential search engines keep their algorithms secret, ignoring the power of SEO is among the biggest mistakes many entrepreneurs make. 

  • Google reportedly uses more than 200 factors to rank web pages. 
  • Republishing existing blog posts and revamping them with updated images and content can increase organic traffic by 106%. 
  • Google Search Statistics shows a real-time number of Google search queries (over 40k per second, 3.5 billion per day, and 1.2 trillion per year globally). 

This article will shed some light on the most important aspects of this versatile question, “What is SEO?” 

What Is SEO/Search Engine Optimization?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. In general terms, it’s a strategy aimed at increasing your website’s visibility for search engine machines and improving its quality for search queries relevant to your field or niche. Most users go no further than the first 2-3 result pages generated by search engines. That is why better visibility helps you attract attention to your product, service, or business and win potential customers.

Some guides to SEO leave readers confused about SEO and SEM. While the two terms go hand in hand and complement each other, SEM stands for search engine marketing and has different principles of driving traffic.

SEO User Engagement

As explained above, SEO stands for search engine optimization. When your website is viewed by a search algorithm as relevant and informative, it will get a huge amount of traffic from search results. This idea drives the demand for finding the best search engine promotion strategies.

Traffic Quality

One of the first rules in any SEO strategy: target your audience. If improper Google search engine optimization causes your page to be marked as an IT outsourcing agency, and you sell homemade pies, you won’t succeed, as it’s not considered quality traffic. Use search engine power to focus on targeting customers who need and would be interested in your product or service.

Traffic Quantity

Once you’ve found the answer to the question “What is SEO?” and defined your target audience by clicking through SERPs (search engine results pages), it’s time to learn SEO principles further. The next factor is traffic quantity, and it matters as much as traffic quality. You can simply measure traffic by the number of visits. However, there are other factors to consider: visitors, page views, and how long the visitors stay on your website.

Organic Results

Although paid ads make up a significant percentage of SERPs, SEO that works focuses on organic search traffic. This term refers to users who entered the site by selecting a non-paid link listed on a SERP. They enter a key query and then look for a better resource (as opposed to clicking on an advertised link). Such visitors are your potential leads for a targeted action – purchase, download, view, etc. In general terms, it’s the traffic you don’t pay for.

Search Engine Algorithms: How Does SEO Work?

After you find the answer to the core question, “What does the SEO acronym stand for?" the next step is to unravel how it works. Although the underlying principles of search algorithms are kept secret, there are well-known key factors you need to consider. The largest search engine machines function in three steps. Let’s take Google as an example.

Crawling

Since there’s no official registry of Internet resources, Google constantly searches for new pages and adds them to the list of already known ones. The algorithm knows some pages, as it has visited them before. Other pages are discovered when the algorithm follows new links from known pages. When Google detects the URL, it “crawls" to the page to scan its text and non-text content. It's when the algorithm "decides" where the site should appear in SERPs.

Indexing

After Google finds a page, it tries to understand what the site is about. This process is called indexing. At this stage, Google analyzes page content and systematizes the images and embedded videos found on it. The information obtained is stored in a huge database – the Google index – that occupies many computers.

Ranking and Serving

When a user enters a query, Google searches its index for the most relevant results, based on various factors – location, language, type of user device (PC or phone), etc. The results for "private catering" will vary depending on whether you are in San Francisco or Singapore. Pre-programmed algorithms determine the rating, and Google does not increase ratings for a fee.

Why Is SEO Important for Marketing? 

If you dig deeper looking for answers to the question, "What does SEO stand for?" you'll inevitably realize that it's a fundamental element of any thought-through digital marketing strategy. 

  • Smart Insights reported that 34% of search traffic is related to e-commerce. 
  • BrightEdge found out that 53% of all trackable digital traffic comes from organic search. 

Here are the most important aspects.

SEO Helps You Compete

Higher visibility increases traffic. Hence, it increases the number of your potential customers. Moreover, SEO is a reliable friend to small businesses. It's difficult to compete with large companies – they are well-known and have budgets for paid advertising. However, a wise SEO strategy can help you break through in the SERPs top, at least on some search queries. 

SEO Helps You Promote Your Brand

It’s especially relevant to new and small businesses. Potential customers use search engines to look for products and services. Even just appearing on the first page for relevant search queries will gain you recognition among future buyers.

SEO Improves User Experience

A search engine chooses the most relevant, convenient, informative, and authoritative websites to show users. The algorithms consider:

  • Page speed;
  • Adaptability for different screen sizes;
  • Site security;
  • Relevant pages like feedback, payment and delivery systems, etc.

When you put in an effort to qualify for the top rankings, you, in fact, improve your customers’ experience. 

How SEO Works: Key Aspects

SEO optimization usually involves one main objective – to take your website to the top-ranking positions of main search engines. Specialists in this field would provide a list of recommendations for improving your site's usability and technical side.

SEO marketing is a more sophisticated process involving a team of professionals with various expertise backgrounds – project managers, marketers, analysts, SEO specialists, developers, and UX/UI designers. They share a common goal: optimize your strategy and promote your business.

On-Page Optimization

On-page SEO refers to techniques and practices aimed at optimizing the internal content of web pages to achieve the best ranking results in search engines. The ultimate goal of internal optimization is to achieve more site traffic.

Keyword Optimization

Keyword search is a fundamental element of SEO. Make sure that keywords on your page are relevant to your niche and bring your target audience.

Snippet Optimization

A snippet is a small info block describing a document found in the search engine output on request. It provides the user with some information about the page content without going to it. Snippets contain the title, description (document fragments), link, and sometimes other elements (caption, quick links, date, etc.).

URL Optimization

Pages reflecting the site’s structure are important for correct indexing. All the pages should also have a unified form.

Easy to Comprehend and Unique Content

SEO writing is no longer just placing a string of keywords but, rather, creating comprehensive, structured content. However, "easy-to-follow, precise, and unique” are the key to win your audience. 

UI, UX, and Branding

SEO that works is based on a better user experience, intuitive interfaces, and a professional appearance – it helps your website rank higher and attract customers.

Technical Optimization

Technical search engine optimization refers to practices aimed at correcting technical aspects of your page to improve its interaction with search engine robots. Technical optimization allows you to provide fast and full indexing of your site’s individual pages. This part may confuse beginners, but it's essential if you intend to learn SEO.

Page Speed

In 2010, a website's speed became a ranking factor for search engines. In addition, low speed negatively affects user interaction. What’s a little difficult here is that users will leave your page before seeing its content if it takes too long to load.

Site’s Mirrors

Search engines do not like when a site has "mirrors" – the site’s replicas placed on other domains. They should be found and deleted.

Robots.txt Adjustment

This file contains a set of directives that allows you to manage the site’s indexing. For example, you can specify to search engines which directories should and should not be present in the search.

Site’s Functionality When JavaScript Is Disabled

For indexing and better SEO, it is important that content and basic links on pages are available when JavaScript is disabled. Search engines can then index the information on pages completely and correctly.

Off-Page Optimization

Off-page optimization refers to activities “outside” the site that also help improve its SEO position on Google: link building, forum communication, opinion leaders’ engagement, content marketing, etc. It focuses on link popularity and the ranking of the websites you place the link to your page.

Content Marketing

Your task here is to attract attention on different content platforms like YouTube, where you can share trending, relevant, and unique content to interest larger audiences and promote your brand.

Social Media Marketing

Social networks are among the most powerful marketing tools. They allow you to communicate with your customers, get direct feedback, promote your products, and much more. If you have high-quality content that boasts real statistics, it's worth sharing on social media to reach a larger audience.

Guest Posting

This practice means publishing your content on a third-party blog. Such blog owners get quality content for free, and you get a backlink to your site. Guest posting is an effective way to get quality external links for your webpage with minimal costs.

White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO

When choosing an SEO strategy for your website, you may find plenty of options. High-quality SEO requires time, effort, and certain investment. Some business owners who don't want to invest time and effort to get results opt for so-called Black Hat SEO. The term is used in contrast to White Hat SEO and refers to “illegal” methods involving automation processes and violation of the basic rules established by search engines. 

The main purpose of Black Hat SEO is to capture top-ranking SERP positions as quickly as possible using various exploits in search algorithms. Experts consider these methods unethical and risky. Moreover, they lead to strict negative consequences.

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO refers to the methods officially allowed and accepted by search engines. They are based on a professional approach to web page promotion and creating functional, user-friendly websites with informative and relevant content. Such techniques are often part of a broader SEO and digital marketing strategy and ensure SEO visibility on ethical terms. They include all the above-mentioned effective website promotion methods:

  • Improving the page functionality and creating relevant, high-quality content;
  • Marketing and PR activity to increase traffic and the brand’s online presence;
  • Following search engine instructions.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO refers to unethical methods prohibited by search engines. They are aimed at achieving a fast top-ranking positioning. Such techniques were widely used at the beginning of the SEO era when the algorithms were not well known to marketers, and hardly anyone thought of the long-term SEO search effect. The main goal is to promote the site at any cost and in the shortest possible time.

  • Cloaking implies creating two versions of the website; one for search robots, one – for visitors.
  • Creating doorway pages means building sites for certain keywords. They contain meaningless text full of keywords visible for a search engine.
  • Hidden text is simply camouflaging the text font with the background's color, so it's not visible to visitors yet still visible to search robots. 
  • Duplicating content is the method to create pages with different addresses but the same text.
  • Swapping implies changing the page’s content after its indexation.

How to Do SEO?

To develop the best search engine optimization strategy tailored for your business, professionals recommend including the following steps.

  1. Carefully audit your website’s content.
  2. Use keyword research tools to identify the keywords people use in search engine queries to find you and same-niche businesses.
  3. Target new keywords you would like to rank for.
  4. Create new content and optimize/update existing pages.
  5. Monitor your website's speed and performance.
  6. Purchase inbound SEO or marketing software.
  7. Explore and analyze the experience of the web pages with the best performance.
  8. Look for opportunities to score inbound links from similar websites.
  9. Monitor and analyze your change in traffic and rankings.

How to Get to the Top: 3 Pro Tips from Develux

Combining multi-field and years of experience, our experts summed up the three most important SEO optimization tips for you. 

1. Decide the Niche You Want to Fill

Remember the example with IT outsourcing and homemade pies? They illustrate different business fields. But a good search engine optimization strategy goes further and aims at a specific niche in your field. If you make gluten-free pies, while none of your local competitors do, and there’s a demand for them – that’s a great SEO potential to get the top-ranking position. Find what your prospective customer needs and target this niche.

2. Find a Professional

Small companies often choose to adjust their marketing to search engine optimization without external help. It’s not impossible to learn most aspects yourself. However, as the business and revenues grow, most companies themselves in need of professional help – an organic SEO consultant who can provide a detailed answer to the question “What does SEO really mean?” 

Develux's expert approach is more than just an SEO company. We provide a wide range of services – from analyzing your region and niche to developing a link-building strategy to fighting Google penalties. Organic SEO consultant services is a cost- and time-efficient solution to promote new and long-existing websites and eventually increase conversions and income. 

3. Use a Complex Approach

Leading industry experts may have different opinions on many aspects. Still, they all agree that the best search engine strategy is the one combined with social media promotion and other elements of a well-structured digital marketing campaign. 

In general terms, such a campaign is a comprehensive plan of business development with a long-term perspective. Since SEO is one of the key methods of effective Internet communication, it's vitally important to have experienced SEO experts on board. Such an integrated approach increases your potential to achieve revenue goals. 

Develux SEO Services

Our dedicated expert team will help you reach top-ranking positions in organic search results. Develux search engine optimization services are not just SEO writing and keyword stuffing your website – we take our time to understand your business and translate it to your potential audiences in the most effective way. Our goal is to help you increase your profit.

Why Should You Choose Develux?

  • We practice a project-by-project, individual approach instead of offering a set of ready-made package deals.
  • We have a well-established team with long-time experience in projects of any complexity.
  • We use search engine optimization methods to promote our websites and know the difference between just generating traffic and making money.
  • We focus on quality rather than quantity to provide better services to our long-term partners.
  • We practice a complex, integrated approach to SEO – an effective strategy is much more than just links and keywords.

SEO is a marathon rather than a sprint – many companies promise prompt results, but we know that an effective strategy takes time. It requires a structured approach, continuous monitoring, a lot of analytics, and adjustments. And we have all the necessary experience and instruments for its successful implementation.

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