SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Now, what do we understand by this term? In layman’s language, it means to optimize/improve the website for search engines to provide them with a better ranking.
Here, we might ponder on what exactly is a search engine. A search engine is nothing but a system one uses to search the required information on the world wide web (www). A user types a query in the search bar and the engine crawls through the various pages, images or other types of files that are in the index for the term one types in the query. Such results are then enlisted as search engine result pages (SERPs). For example, if I want to know how many IIT institutes are there in India, then I might type ‘IIT India’ in the search bar. The search engine will then list all those places on the web that contain any relevance to my query.
Web crawling and indexing are the real-time processes the search engines maintain to execute their tasks. The real-time process here means that the time lag between typing a query and getting the result is too small that one receives it without significant delay. This is how a search engine is helping its users to find what they need or are searching for on the web. But that is just one side of the coin. Say if I host a website or a blog or just a page on the web, then how do I make sure that people view my page? How do I ascertain that my online content is visible to my target audience when needed? This is where SEO comes into play.
Coming to its meaning, SEO is a web marketing technique. It is an unpaid method used by search engines to rank the sites in response to the query. A site is ranked over and above million other websites because of their relevance to the query. This is what the person typing the query thinks, and hence, the traffic on my site increases.
The common question would now be, how did the ranking happen? Since we now know that SEO improves our website’s visibility on SERPs, let us further understand it’s processing. So search engines are not humans and they don’t see the content as we humans do. They are software and understand machine language. So for search engines to interpret the content on our website, we need to incorporate some elements in them. These elements are the keywords that we use in our articles or the topics, in the heading, the meta tags, etc. Use of keywords is the foundational step for establishing a search marketing campaign. This is because developing a list of keywords goes a long way in implementing SEO initiative.
Think of it this way, if I can figure out what my audience is typing to get the information I offer, then I can very easily bring them to my page. This is on-page optimization. It includes-
⇒ New and fresh content: Content should never be copied from any other site.
→ Website design: It should be such that is readable by search engines. Always keep it updated to match with changed search engine algorithms.
⇒ Media used on the page: The images or video clips used should be of proper size & quality, and having proper names.
→ Outside links: Links we use on our website should not be from unsafe web addresses.
⇒ URLs, tiles & descriptions: They should be properly structured and appropriately optimized.
→ User friendliness: It should be like a piece-of-cake experience for users to navigate through the site.
⇒ Mobile friendly: Google should be aware of the mobile version of the site & also the users should get the go-through guidance needed.
There is also off-page optimization, which means, other websites that have data relevant to my website can have links that redirect to my website. Link building is the method one uses to achieve such type of SEO. Similar users share and like an important website. They have better exposure on social media too and one frequently bookmarks them. These are the things that search engines take into account and identify a website in their “good books”, thereby increasing the ranking. But this doesn’t mean the more the links, the better the rank. Because search engines have updated their software and have started fining those who perform such malpractices as posting on article directories and using link exchange schemes.
Links should be hard earned to receive the value they hold. One should achieve them from quality places as the better the source, the better for us. A link from a reputed origin is always of more value than that from an unknown entity. We can do this by increasing our web presence and maintaining the standards. Also in these highly advanced and dynamic times, keeping up with the advancements is the prerequisite.
SEO is all about naturally enhancing the visibility of our website by utilizing certain features the search engines offer and understanding the way they search through our pages. One needs to maintain certain standards to increase our visibility to these engines. And bingo!
But there are certain exceptions. Not everything that we do changes the way our site looks from the outside. There are certainly other factors that affect the ranking of our sites. For one thing is the change in the algorithms of the search engines, i.e. how do they weigh our content. We can to a great extent try and understand and plan our campaign accordingly, but there are no cheat codes. This is the case of false positives and true positives.
There are a number of search engines today, but the most popular ones are Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. And even out of these three, Google’s market share is incomparable. It accounts for more than 65% of revenue around the world. But it doesn’t mean that it is most popular everywhere in the world. The popularity varies geographically, politically and historically. So if at some place Google is more popular then I will have to design my campaign & website as per Google’s point of view (in addition to the viewer’s point of view of course). And if at some place Yahoo! is popular, then I will have to take into consideration their algorithms and points of focus. Also at times, I might have to adapt to multiple search engines. So, the strategies in SEO have to be permeable through such factors.
There are a number of tools the search engine provides, take for example Google for us to comply with its standards. They are available both online and as paid packages through various IT companies as services. Some online examples are Plagiarism checker, structured data testing tools, etc. The coding of a website is obviously the most important aspect. So code optimization undoubtedly paves the way for a better SEO. Also one can achieve the same through Google Optimization Tools.
This that you’ve read above wasn’t an exhaustive list but were some of the things about SEO that are either from my knowledge or experience or both. And again, these are subject to change. So keep updated and enjoy the benefits without paying hefty amounts and stay popular!