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(SEO) Sarch Engine Optimization

What Is (SEO) Search Engine Optimization?



(SEO) Sarch Engine Optimization. Simply said, search engine optimization (SEO) is the act of making changes to your website so that it appears more prominently in Google, Microsoft Bing, and other search engines whenever someone searches for:

  • Products you sell.
  • Services you provide.
  • Information on topics in which you have deep expertise and/or experience.

Your chances of being seen and clicked on increase with the visibility of your pages in search results. The ultimate objective of search engine optimization is to assist in drawing in website visitors who will either become repeat customers, clients, or customers.

What this guide will teach you:


What distinguishes SEO from PPC and SEM?

Two additional phrases you’ll likely come across in the greater search marketing community and here on Search Engine Land are SEM and PPC.

Continue reading to find out more about these two concepts and how SEO relates to them.


SEO vs. SEM:

Search engine marketing, or search marketing as it is more widely called, is what SEM stands for.

One kind of digital marketing is search marketing. It is a catch-all word for a mix of PPC and SEO efforts designed to increase visitors through both sponsored and organic search.

To put it simply, search marketing is the act of using both paid and unpaid search engine optimization techniques to increase exposure and traffic.

Thus, what distinguishes SEO from SEM? In a technical sense, they are identical; SEO is merely half of SEM:

  • SEO = driving organic traffic from search engines.
  • SEM = driving organic and paid traffic from search engines.

This is where things start to become a little unclear.

SEM and PPC are frequently used interchangeably these days; we’ll discuss PPC in the next section.

This concept appears to outperform SEO. But marketing nonetheless—just like PPC is—is what SEO is.

The ideal way to approach SEO and SEM is as follows:

Consider SEM to be a coin. One side of the coin is SEO. On the other hand is PPC.


SEO vs. PPC:

PPC, or pay-per-click, is a kind of online advertising in which sponsors are billed each time a link in their ad is clicked.

Basically, when an advertiser wants their ad to show up in search engine results, they bid on particular keywords or phrases. The advertiser’s ad will show up as one of the top results when a user searches for one of those terms or phrases.

Thus, if search engine marketing is like a coin, then PPC and SEO are its two sides; PPC is the side that is paid, and SEO is the side that is unpaid.

Another crucial thing to remember is that these are complementing channels, therefore it’s never appropriate to compare SEO and PPC or decide which is superior. Selecting both is always a good idea, provided that your budget permits it.

As we have already stated, the phrases SEM and PPC are synonymous in the industry. That’s not the case, though, on Search Engine Land.

We shall always be referring to both PPC (paid search) and SEO (organic search) when we use the term “SEM.”

You may read more in-depth about the background of how “SEM” came to be synonymous with “PPC” at the expense of SEO in the following articles:


Why is SEO important?

One essential marketing channel is SEO. First and foremost, 53% of all website traffic comes from organic search.

That’s a major factor in the prediction that the global SEO market would grow to an astounding $122.11 billion by 2028. For companies of all sizes, brands, and enterprises, SEO produces tangible commercial outcomes.

People usually start their journey with a search if they want to go someplace, do something, obtain information, perform research, or purchase a good or service.

However, search is very dispersed these days. Users have the option to search using social media sites like YouTube and TikTok, merchant websites like Amazon, or conventional web search engines like Google and Microsoft Bing.

As a matter of fact, 61% of American internet customers begin their search for products on Amazon, whereas 49% begin on search engines like Google. Notable findings from the same study include:

  • 32% start on Walmart.com.
  • 20% start on YouTube.
  • 19% start on Facebook.
  • 15% start on Instagram.
  • 11% start on TikTok.

There are billions of searches done annually. Since searches are frequently the main way that people find websites, it is crucial to make sure that your brand and business are “search engine friendly” on every platform where this is possible.

Thus, increasing your visibility and outperforming your competitors in search results might have a favorable effect on your financial performance.

Due to intense competition and a ton of search features (as well as PPC ads) on the search engine results page, or SERP, SEO is additionally crucial. SERP attributes consist of:

  • Knowledge panels.
  • Featured snippets.
  • Maps.
  • Images.
  • Videos.
  • Top stories (news).
  • People Also Ask.
  • Carousels.

For brands and companies, SEO is especially important because, in contrast to other marketing avenues, quality SEO work has a long shelf life. The traffic ceases when a sponsored campaign stops. Social media traffic is, at best, unpredictable and far less than it formerly was.

The cornerstone of holistic marketing is SEO, which means that everything your business does counts. Once you are aware of what your users desire, you can apply that understanding throughout your

  • Campaigns (paid and organic).
  • Website content.
  • Social media properties.

One way to get the traffic you need to meet important business objectives is through SEO (e.g., conversions, visits, sales). Additionally, it fosters trust because highly ranked websites are typically seen as reliable and authoritative, two qualities that Google actively seeks to reward with higher rankings.


Types of SEO

There are three types of SEO:

  • Technical SEO: Optimizing the technical aspects of a website.
  • On-site SEO: Optimizing the content on a website for users and search engines.
  • Off-site SEO: Creating brand assets (e.g., ​​people, marks, values, vision, slogans, catchphrases, colors) and doing things that will ultimately enhance brand awareness and recognition (i.e., demonstrating and growing its expertise, authority and trustworthiness) and demand generation.

Regarding technical optimizations and content, you are still in complete control. Off-site activities are still an essential component of this SEO trinity of success, even though it’s not always the case (you can’t control links from other sites or if platforms you rely on wind up shutting down or undergoing significant changes).

Think about SEO like a sports team. To win, you require a potent offense, a potent defense, and supporters, often known as an audience. Consider off-site optimization as a strategy to draw in, interact with, and keep a devoted following, and technological optimization as your defense and content optimization as your offensive.


Technical optimization:

Optimizing the technical elements of a website is crucial and fundamental for SEO success.

It all starts with architecture – creating a website that can be crawled and indexed by search engines. As Gary Illyes, Google’s trends analyst, once put it in a Reddit AMA: “MAKE THAT DAMN SITE CRAWLABLE.”

You want to make it as simple as possible for search engines to find and access all of the material (text, photos, and videos) on your pages. What technical details are relevant in this case: internal linking, navigation, URL structure, and more.

Another essential component of technological optimization is experience. Improved user experience and fast page loads are highly valued by search engines. Technical SEO factors include things like Core Web Vitals, mobile friendliness and usability, HTTPS, and staying away from invasive interstitials.

Structured data, often known as schema, is another field of technical improvement. By including this code on your website, you can improve your visibility in search results and assist search engines comprehend the material on your page.

SEO is also influenced by site security, content management systems (CMS), and online hosting providers.


Content optimization:

You should optimize your content for both search engines and human readers in SEO. This means that you have to optimize both the material that search engines (the code) and your audience (the actual content on the page) will view.

The goal, always, is to publish helpful, high-quality content. You can do this through a combination of understanding your audience’s wants and needs, data and guidance provided by Google.

When optimizing content for people, you should make sure it:

  • Covers relevant topics with which you have experience or expertise.
  • Includes keywords people would use to find the content.
  • Is unique or original.
  • Is well-written and free of grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Is up to date, containing accurate information.
  • Includes multimedia (e.g., images, videos).
  • Is better than your SERP competitors.
  • Is readable – structured to make it easy for people to understand the information you’re sharing (think: subheadings, paragraph length, use bolding/italics, ordered/unordered lists, reading level, etc.).

For search engines, some key content elements to optimize for are:

  • Title tags
  • Meta description
  • Header tags (H1-H6)
  • Image alt text
  • Open graph and Twitter Cards metadata


Off-site optimization:

Even if they might not be considered “SEO” in the strictest sense, a number of actions can support and indirectly contribute to SEO success.

The activity that is most closely linked to off-site SEO is link building, or the practice of obtaining links to a website. Obtaining a variety of links pointing at your website from relevant, reputable, and authoritative websites can have a positive impact on your website’s rankings and traffic, among other things. The idea is to have a big number of high-quality links, as link quality always wins out over quantity.

And how are those links obtained? Numerous website promotion strategies work in tandem with SEO initiatives. Among them are:

  • Brand building and brand marketing: Techniques designed to boost recognition and reputation.
  • PR: Public relations techniques designed to earn editorially-given links.
  • Content marketing: Some popular forms include creating videos, ebooks, research studies, podcasts (or being a guest on other podcasts) and guest posting (or guest blogging).
  • Social media marketing and optimization: Claim your brand’s handle on any and all relevant platforms, optimize it fully and share relevant content.
  • Listing management: Claiming, verifying and optimizing the information on any platforms where information about your company or website may be listed and found by searchers (e.g., directories, review sites, wikis).
  • Ratings and reviews: Getting them, monitoring them and responding to them.

When you discuss off-site activities, you’re usually referring to those that won’t have a direct effect on your ranking from a technical one.

But once more, everything your brand does counts. You want people to be able to find your brand anywhere they might look for you. In an attempt to redefine “search engine optimization,” some have attempted to rename it as “search experience optimization” or “search everywhere optimization.”


SEO specialties:

Subgenres of search engine optimization exist as well. Every one of these niche markets differs from “regular SEO” in a unique way; they typically call for extra strategies and provide unique difficulties.

These five SEO specialties are as follows:

  • Ecommerce SEO: Additional SEO elements include optimizing category pages, product pages, faceted navigation, internal linking structures, product images, product reviews, schema and more.
  • Enterprise SEO: This is SEO on a massive scale. Typically this means dealing with a website (or multiple websites/brands) with 1 million+ pages – or it may be based on the size of the organization (typically those making millions or billions in revenue per year). Doing enterprise also typically means delays trying to get SEO changes implemented by the dev team, as well as the involvement of multiple stakeholders.
  • International SEO: This is global SEO for international businesses – doing SEO for multiregional or multilingual websites – and optimizing for international search engines such as Baidu or Naver.
  • Local SEO: Here, the goal is to optimize websites for visibility in local organic search engine results by managing and obtaining reviews and business listings, among others.
  • News SEO: With news, speed is of utmost importance – specifically making sure you get into Google’s index as quickly as possible and appear in places such as Google Discover, Google’s Top Stories and Google News. There’s a need to understand best practices for paywalls, section pages, news-specific structured data, and more.


How does SEO work?

It’s possible that you looked for [what is seo] or [seo] on Google before coming onto this page.

This tutorial is available on Search Engine Land, a reputable website with extensive knowledge and experience in the field of search engine optimization (SEO)—we’ve been covering all changes, big and small, to SEO since 2006.

Since it was first posted in 2010, our page on “what is SEO” has accumulated an astounding 324,203 links.To put it simply, this guide’s positive search engine reputation has been cultivated over years of ranking in Position 1 thanks to these and other reasons. It is authoritative and reliable, as seen by the signals it has acquired, and as such, it should appear high up in search results for SEO.

Let’s take a closer look at SEO, though. All things considered, SEO actually functions by combining:

  • People: The person or team responsible for doing or ensuring that the strategic, tactical and operational SEO work is completed.
  • Processes: The actions taken to make the work more efficient.
  • Technology: The platforms and tools used.
  • Activities: The end product, or output.

Numerous other factors influence SEO’s effectiveness. Here is a high-level overview of the key knowledge and process components.

When together, these six essential components make SEO effective:

1. Understanding how search engines work:

To put it simply, you need to understand the technical workings of the search engine and make sure you are supplying all the necessary “signals” to affect visibility if you want people to find your business via search – on any platform.

There are four distinct search phases when discussing conventional web search engines like Google:

  • Crawling: Search engines use crawlers to discover pages on the web by following links and using sitemaps.
  • Rendering: Search engines generate how the page will look using HTML, JavaScript and CSS information.
  • Indexing: Search engines analyze the content and metadata of the pages it has discovered and add them to a database (though there’s no guarantee every page on your website will be indexed).
  • Ranking: Complex algorithms look at a variety of signals to determine whether a page is relevant and of high-enough quality to show when searchers enter a query.

However, there are differences between optimizing for Google and other search engines, such as YouTube or Amazon.

Consider Facebook as an example, where variables like user engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.) and social connections are important. Subsequently, signals on Twitter such as author reputation, engagement, or recentness matter.

To add to the complexity, search engines have included machine learning components to surface material, which makes it much more difficult to determine whether doing “this” or “that” improved or worsened performance.

2. Researching:

A crucial component of SEO is research. The following are a few types of study that will enhance SEO performance:

  • Audience research: It’s important to understand your target audience or market. Who are they (i.e., their demographics and psychographics)? What are their pain points? What questions do they have that you can answer?
  • Keyword research: This process helps you identify and incorporate relevant and valuable search terms people use into your pages – and understand how much demand and competition there is to rank for these keywords.
  • Competitor research: What are your competitors doing? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What types of content are they publishing?
  • Brand/business/client research: What are their goals – and how can SEO help them achieve those goals?
  • Website research: A variety of SEO audits can uncover opportunities and issues on a website that are preventing success in organic search. Some audits to consider: technical SEO, content, link profile and E-E-A-T.
  • SERP analysis: This will help you understand the search intent for a given query (e.g., is it commercial, transactional, informational or navigational) and create content that is more likely to earn rankings or visibility.

3. Planning:

An extended game plan is what’s known as an SEO strategy. You must have objectives and a strategy for achieving them.

Consider it a road map for your SEO approach. Over time, your route will probably change and develop, but your final aim should always be evident.

Your SEO strategy might cover the following:

  • Setting goals (e.g., OKRs, SMART) and expectations (i.e., timelines/milestones).
  • Defining and aligning meaningful KPIs and metrics.
  • Deciding how projects will be created and implemented (internal, external or a mix).
  • Coordinating and communicating with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Choosing and implementing tools/technology.
  • Hiring, training and structuring a team.
  • Setting a budget.
  • Measuring and reporting on results.
  • Documenting the strategy and process.

4. Creating and implementing:

After conducting extensive research, it’s time to put ideas into practice. Thus, it implies:

  • Creating new content: Advising your content team on what content needs to be created.
  • Recommending or implementing changes or enhancements to existing pages: This could include updating and improving the content, adding internal links, incorporating keywords/topics/entities, or identifying other ways to optimize it further.
  • Removing old, outdated or low-quality content: The types of content that aren’t ranking well, driving converting traffic or helping you achieve your SEO goals.

5. Monitoring and maintaining:

When something goes wrong or breaks on your website, you need to be aware of it. Observation is essential.

You must be aware of any decrease in traffic to a vital page, slow, unresponsive, or lost pages in the index, complete website failure, broken links, or any of a host of other potentially disastrous problems.

6. Analyzing, assessing and reporting on performance:

You cannot increase SEO if you do not measure it. You must use the following to make data-driven judgments on SEO:

  • Website analytics: Set up and use tools (at minimum, free tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools) to collect performance data.
  • Tools and platforms: There are many “all-in-one” platforms (or suites) that offer multiple tools, but you can also choose to use only select SEO tools to track performance on specific tasks. Or, if you have the resources and none of the tools on the market do exactly what you want, you can make your own tools.

Following data collection, you must provide an update on your progress. Reports might be manually or through software created.

Performance reports ought to be narrative in nature and should be completed at significant intervals, usually in relation to prior reporting periods (year over year, for example). Depending on the kind of website, this could happen every month, every three months, or every other interval.


SEO is ongoing:

SEO is a never-ending process. User behavior, search engines, and your rivals are dynamic entities. Over time, websites shift, relocate, and malfunction. Stale content occurs. Your procedures ought to get better and more effective.

Bottom line: There’s always something you can be monitoring, testing or improving. Or, as Bruce Clay put it: SEO will only be done when Google stops changing things and all your competition dies.


How to learn SEO:

How can you study more now that you have a better understanding of SEO’s definition and operation?

Whether it’s on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, making it a habit to read (or, if you’d like, watch or listen to) the most recent advancements, research, best practices, and SEO news should become second nature to you. Additionally, you ought to make the effort to go to one or two occasions a year.

Algorithms must adapt regularly to stay up with the expectations and changing behavior of searchers. That, along with recent technological innovations (just consider ChatGPT’s meteoric rise in late 2022 and the unexpected inclusion of generative AI in search results in 2023).

These reputable materials and pointers will assist you in developing as an SEO expert.


Search Engine Land’s SEO resources:

Since 2006, Search Engine Land has covered SEO. Apart from the news pieces authored by our editorial team, Search Engine Land features guest posts with insightful SEO strategies, methods, trends, and analysis from a wide range of subject matter experts.

We’re biased, but we highly suggest you sign up to receive Search Engine Land’s free email newsletter featuring a roundup of the latest SEO news, and insights every weekday.

Search Engine Land also has multiple categories on topics dedicated to specific areas and platforms which you may find helpful:


Search Engine Land’s Guide To SEO:

(Editor’s Note: We are currently updating this guide; by the first quarter of 2024, we hope to have all the chapters updated.)

The Search Engine Land Guide To SEO takes you through the principles of search engine optimization so you can create a strong plan to increase organic traffic to your website.

In-depth explanations of these elements are provided in our guide, along with practical advice on search engine optimization from professionals that will increase organic search traffic to your website.


Google’s SEO resources:

  • Google Search Essentials: In this guide, Google discusses technical requirements, spam policies and key best practices.
  • SEO starter guide: An overview of SEO basics, according to Google’s best practices.
  • Search quality evaluator guidelines: This document explains how Google instructs human raters to evaluate the quality of its search results by examining the experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of content and websites.


Developing your SEO skills:

Experimentation is one of the finest ways to learn SEO. One of the finest methods to improve your abilities and broaden your understanding of SEO is through practical experience.

Create your own webpages, focusing on subjects that you are enthusiastic about. Try out different strategies and methods. Check what functions well and what doesn’t.

SEO requires many other skills. Dig deeper into some of those in 13 essential SEO skills you need to succeed.

Another way to advance your career is by attending a search conference. The Search Engine Land team programs the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) conference series, which has a dedicated SEO track that dives into various aspects of SEO and features some excellent speakers and presentations. SMX Advanced takes place in June and SMX Next in November.

After that, there are a number of other (paid and free) resources for learning SEO:

  • Websites, blogs and publications.
  • Books and ebooks.
  • Videos.
  • Podcasts.
  • Webinars.
  • Conferences, events and meetups.
  • Courses.
  • Training and certification programs.
  • Groups (e.g., social media, Slack).
  • Newsletters.
  • Following experts on social media.
  • Forums.

Just use caution. Even with the abundance of trustworthy sites, you (or your clients) will eventually come across some inaccurate or out-of-date SEO material.

In summary, there are no “universal” facts or huge secrets when it comes to SEO. In order to increase your exposure, clicks, traffic, authority, conversions, sales, and money, you must work hard in every SEO phase.


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