What Is Search Engine Optimization?
“Search engine optimization” is what SEO stands for. In simple terms, it is the process of making changes to your site to make it more visible when people use Google, Bing, and other search engines to look for products or services related to your business. The more visible your pages are in search results, the more likely you are to get people to notice your business and bring new and old customers to it.
How Does SEO Work?
Search engines like Google and Bing use robots called “bots” to crawl the web. The bots go from site to site, gathering information about each page and putting it in an index. Think of the index as a huge library where a librarian can pull up a book (or a web page) to help you find exactly what you’re looking for at the time.
Next, algorithms look at the pages in the index and use hundreds of “ranking factors” or “signals” to figure out how they should be listed in the search results for a given query. In our library example, the librarian has read every book in the library and can tell you exactly which one has the answers to your questions.
You can think of our SEO success factors as stand-ins for parts of the user experience. It’s how search bots figure out how well a website or web page can give the searcher what they’re looking for.
You can’t pay search engines for higher organic search rankings like you can with paid search ads. This means that SEO experts have to put in the work. We can help with that.
Our Periodic Table of SEO Factors sorts the factors into six main groups based on how important they are to SEO as a whole. For instance, the quality of the content and research on keywords are important parts of content optimization, and crawlability and speed are important parts of site architecture.
The new version of the SEO Periodic Table also has a list of “toxins” that hurt SEO best practices. These are shortcuts or tricks that may have been enough to get a high ranking back when search engines were not nearly as smart as they are now. And they might still work for a short time, at least until you get caught.
We also have a brand-new section called “Niche” that goes into detail about the SEO factors that make Local SEO, News/Publishing SEO, and Ecommerce SEO successful. Our SEO Periodic Table will help you figure out the best ways to do things, but knowing the specifics of SEO for each of these Niches can help your small business, recipe blog, or online store do well in search results.
The search algorithms are set up to show users pages that are relevant and trustworthy and to make searching as easy as possible. Keeping these things in mind when you optimize your site and content can help your pages rank higher in the search results.
Additional SEO Considerations
For many businesses, all you need to know about SEO is how to do the technical parts right, know the keywords you want to target and have a keyword strategy for getting your site’s pages linked to and shared. There are, however, some situations and types of businesses that need to worry about certain types of searches. Some types of search environments that need different strategies are:
International SEO: There are pros and cons to different ways to rank sites in different countries and languages. If you want to reach customers in different international markets, Aleyda Solis has a great guide to international SEO best practices. Google also has a guide with some recommendations and best practices.
Local SEO: For small businesses and franchisees, getting local rankings for different versions of “your location” + “your service” (like “Pizza shops in Boston”) is the best organic search traffic you can get.
Localized rankings can be helped by getting links and shares, researching keywords, and making sure your site doesn’t have any technical problems. However, there is another set of ranking factors that local businesses should be aware of. Matthew Barby has written a great book about the subject.
Search Engines for the App Store: If you have an app, either as your business’s main product or as a way for mobile users to interact with your business, having it show up in searches on different app stores can be very valuable. Justin Briggs and Stephanie Beadell have both written several great blog posts about the subject.