SEO is a complex topic. But what is SEO exactly? The term SEO, standing for Search Engine Optimization, is the overarching term for all things relating to content on the internet, and how to best make it rank highly in search engine results. All of the major search engines like Bing, Google and Yahoo will show results for a search that are rated. However, payment isn’t involved with these rankings, as it is with search ads that are paid for. Results are generated by what the algorithm of the search engine prioritizes.
Google in particular is known for being most responsive to user input about what users want to see for their search results. Simply put, SEO is how to generate traffic and increase traffic via organic methods on search engines. When people search for things, they do not want to sift through twenty pages of results to find something that is beneficial to them.
Potentially the best place to start when answering the question what is SEO is to discuss the types of SEO available on the market today. The approaches to SEO that are considered below each have advantages and disadvantages. While many people categorize these approaches into right and wrong, it actually depends on the customer’s needs to determine the best SEO approach.
When gauging what approach is best, it’s best to look at the desired long-term results.
Black Hat techniques are not useful for generating wholesome content whatsoever. Things such as keyword stuffing, links that redirect to spam, hidden text or links, and cloaking all are Black Hat techniques that generate results that are unpredictable but quick and provide a short-term growth for a site’s rankings.
Algorithms for search engines are becoming stricter all of the time, so be sure to stick to tried and trusted SEO techniques to avoid being getting burned. All it takes is one mistake to get blacklisted by the algorithm. To be honest, genuinely defining Gray Hat SEO techniques are awkward because its practices continue to be ill-defined by search engine algorithms. It means that Gray Hat SEO can easily be a catch 22 if not done correctly. Gray Hat SEO could boost a site’s result rankings without adverse impacts, or it could end up costing a lot of money in the lost traffic because the search engine algorithm has flagged you.
After a preliminary discussion of search engine optimization, it’s essential to find out what makes SEO practices successful or not. Knowing how to apply SEO can help you better understand what is SEO.
Black Hat SEO and Gray Hat SEO practices can seem shady because frequently they are not in line with what is considered sustainable and profitable SEO. However, search engines will examine a variety of signals that SEO practices deserve before dealing out penalties. Not creating thin or shallow content is the first step for successful SEO, no matter what approach you utilize. With user input that was highly responsive to the usefulness of search results, engines such as Google have rolled out updates like Panda, which targets explicitly vapid content. Shallow content that is found to lack substance is now more accessible to flag. As there is just so much content on the internet, this is a necessary tool and something to keep in mind. You don’t want your SEO practices to land your content in the spam content because it is not valuable enough to people. Look at how SEO can be applied to broaden your understanding of what is SEO. These applications all work together. A fantastic HTML that has been optimized won’t do any good for a site that still has lower quality content.
When determining what is SEO and how it applies to content, knowing what not to do is important. While SEO is a valuable tool for everyone involved, SEO practices that try to go around the guidelines for search engines can result in a page or many pages for a site receiving a ranking penalty, or, should the practices continue, being entirely banned from that search engine. When calculating this, search engines will weight ranking factors based on user feedback and information received from the SEO community as a whole. There are many factors to consider, however. An engine like Google utilizes input from over 200 signals (1), and that isn’t even to include sub-signals, of which Google uses over ten thousand of.
Research for keywords and content: After creating quality content, it is time to help to search engines pinpoint your site for relevancy. Keywords are a big part of what is SEO and are featured in the published content. When search engines scan a site page, they hone in on keywords within the material that could mean the site matches to what the search engine user is looking for. Keywords help connect users and a site with a common language. An exceptionally technical site about preventing a disease, or a site that goes in-depth on a hobby that has terminology that isn’t common might be the perfect fit for a user, but might be skipped over because a user’s query isn’t specific enough. Instead of searching for ways to avoid Melanoma, for example, a user will probably search for ways to prevent skin cancer. ‘Skin cancer’ would be the keyword that the search engine would lock onto, and help navigate the user to a site that is perfect for their query.
Keywords are a big part of what is SEO, and how it is beneficial. Proper SEO techniques require in-depth research for feedback on the best keyword to use for the topic being discussed. Keep in mind that how many times the keyword is used within the text is important too. Overuse of the keyword will result in the page for the site being skipped over, but just the right balance of keywords within the content, usually no more than fifteen times per five hundred words, is best. If your content is longer than five hundred words, a general density rating for keywords is approximately 2.5% or under.
Content freshness: Search engines prioritize new content. They can’t get enough of it. This is where SEO is most useful, for either creating new content or revamping older content so that it is fresh again. Changing the publication date of a page, or even adding a new page every day is not the right way to deliver fresh content. Besides being a hassle in maintenance, it just doesn’t work.
Part of a factor used within the search algorithms is a deserved freshness factor. This relates to how popular a topic is at the time the user is searching for it. In the midst of a particularly violent hurricane, searches for hurricane information may skyrocket, and a search engine will apply the deserved freshness factor to search results. This is one way that content that has not been routinely optimized could still rank highly. However, going back to the principles of what is SEO, after the interest in that particular topic dies down, if the content is not fresh and routinely optimized, it will not be very prominently featured.
Vertical search: This is a factor that combines content freshness with search results. Most search results will scan all of the sites available for a user’s query in a more general manner, and then display the most prominent and relevant results horizontally. Think of Google’s report of this many results found in this amount of time typically listed at the bottom of the first search results page. Vertical search is more specific, zeroing in on a segment of the overall category that horizontal results utilize. Content that is like these results could be more likely to appear in vertical results. A prime combination, of performing at the top of horizontal results and in vertical results could potentially be achieved by consistently applying proper SEO techniques.
When defining what SEO is, there is so much information that it can be overwhelming. Focusing on the fundamentals of SEO, and relating it to real-world examples, can help a person increase their knowledge of SEO and be able to apply it for a more thorough understanding. Look at how SEO can influence factors in a search engine’s algorithm, as well as the kinds of SEO and where SEO can be applied for good starting points to understanding SEO.