What Is SEO AKA Search Engine Optimization?

It’s common to see people advertising the secrets to Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ). Many people claim to have the ‘secret formula’, or the ‘proven method’ of internet marketing that will gain you instant success. However, to fully understand how many of these claims are dubious, it’s good to understand what  SEO  really is.

The end goal of Search Engine Optimization is to have an existing website be present in the top of search engine results (example, Google.com) when someone searches for a key phrase related to that website or business. For example,  SEO  is good if you own a small flower shop in Austin, Texas, and you want your website to be found by people searching for ‘Flower Shop in Austin Texas’.

However, search engine companies use complex algorithms to determine which websites are most relevant for individual key phrases (such as ‘Flower Shop in Austin Texas’). These results can not be purchased or ‘influenced’ by any amount of cash. It is Google’s end goal to provide users with the best search results possible, and therefore, they use their own criteria, which is unknown to the public, to rank websites in the order they see fit. While it’s not possible to purchase top rankings, it is possible to influence the way Google sees your website, and therefore the rankings.

Google uses a variety of elements to decide what a website is about and how credible the information is. These are the main two factors that determine how Google displays your website:

What is the website about?

A website can be designed to be explicit on what it is about. Just like a textbook, a website can be designed so that the cover, title, chapter headings, and imagery all indicate the purpose of the information within the book. By making technical and content modifications to a website tailored to the image you want to portray, both in the back and front end, the next time Google visits your site it will reevaluate the purpose of the website. For Example, if you were to change the name of your flower shop website, from “The Rose Bouquet in Austin Texas” to “Rose Bouquet Flower Shop – Austin Texas”, Google will have a better indicator that your site is about a flower shop. The same goes for any content written on the site. Blogs, company descriptions, and outlined service pages all give Google a better idea of what to expect.

How credible is it?

This is the most challenging, complex and time consuming part of a good  SEO  campaign. Google uses complex calculations to determine that information provided on one website is more relevant than information provided on another website. Factors include the age of your domain name, the quality of your web development code, and how many other, relevant websites link to you.

Search engine rankings works like a popularity contest. The more websites that endorse you by adding a link, or a button, from their website to yours, the more ‘popular’ you are to search engines. Each link is counted as a ‘vote of confidence’. For example, if you owned a medical website that had a link coming from WebMD.com, that is considered a strong vote of confidence because WedMD is a reputable organization. It can be safe to say that websites with more votes, will usually be considered more trustworthy and ranked accordingly.

The majority of  SEO  campaigns involve developing connections with other relevant websites, and having them ‘link’ back to your website. After some time, these links are noticed by Google, and your rankings will improve.

Overall, the two most important parts of an  SEO  campaign are content and links. If you have excellent, relevant content and are ‘popular’ with links, then your  SEO  campaign is in good shape.

As you can see,  SEO  takes a lot of work. It’s impossible for a company to offer overnight success with  SEO . The time required to create good content, develop relationships and grow your links is relatively long, and can take several months. In the end, the patience pays off, as a well optimized website can gain highly targeted, free traffic from search engines.

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