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What is SEO? everything you need to know

By Suraj Jha on Nov 5, 2020

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of improving your site and its content to amplify its visibility for relevant searches. In simpler terms, it is following a set of practices to make your content more discoverable for search engines when someone comes searching for your product or services.

How do the search engines work?

Think of search engines as massive libraries, which, instead of storing books, store web pages.

So whenever you enter a ‘search query,’ the search engine goes into the depth of its collection to produce the most relevant results relying on a computer program called an algorithm.

The exact parameters of the algorithm are unknown; hence there never is one definitive strategy when it comes to SEO. It is an ever-going cat and mouse pursuit that changes track every other day.

SEO Ranking Factors 2020FACT: Google, on average, makes 400 changes to its algorithm every year. (MOZ)

Search Engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. use bots to crawl pages on the web, from site to site, collecting information about those pages and storing them on a big reservoir known as the Index. So whenever someone enters a search query containing a key tenet known as a ‘keyword,’ the search engine organizes them as search results taking into account hundreds of factors.

According to Backlinko’s Brian Dean, Google incorporates 210 major indexing factors. However, one common denominator between all these ranking factors is that they are all proxies for aspects of the user experience that a creator/website owner must consider.

It is also correct to say that not all ranking factors carry the same weight. In the same report, Brian mentions that:

 

  1. Referring domains/ Backlinks ( Quantity and Quality)
  2. Organic click-through-rate
  3. Domain authority
  4. Mobile-friendliness
  5. Dwell time
  6. Content quality
  7. On-page SEO

Are the most important Google ranking factors in 2020.

FACT: Google controls 92% of the search engine traffic, and hence it pays to optimize your content for Google instead of Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine.

So as you can make out, the search engine algorithms are designed to display relevant, comprehensive web pages that provide a rich user experience. Creating and designing web pages keeping these factors in mind can help you rank higher in search engines.

This is also critical because unlike paid ads, you cannot pay search engines to attain higher organic search rankings.

Why is SEO critical for your business?

The world has been looking for alternate sources of revenue since the turn of the millennia be it in cryptocurrency, social advertising, fantasy sports etc. SEO is darkhorse in that race.

According to a report published in Forbes, businesses in the United States would spend an estimated $72 billion in search engine optimization (SEO) services alone ($80B by 2020), and there is a very good reason they will be doing that.

As you know, marketplaces have to keep on evolving in accordance with consumer presence; hence it becomes that empirical you set up shop for the long haul in the digital era. SEO is a surefire method to do just that.

FACT: 81% of consumers check online reviews before purchasing a product/service.

Also, the fact that customers tend to trust brands with higher search rankings instead of their non-ranking counterparts provides ample opportunities to establish higher conversions, long term relationships and ultimately richer brand value.

Types of SEO

By now, you know that SEO is a long and tedious, but they’re still are some who want to get ahead of the curve employing shady tactics, this kind of practice is known as black hat SEO.

This type of SEO functions on creating content only for the search engine, not considering humans at all resulting in articles overstuffed with keywords, backlinks from shady shell websites etc. which in the long run can result in severe punishments even to the extent of the page getting banned.

White Hat SEO, on the other hand, is a long term, sustainable model that focuses on creating content for human audiences. This model gives audiences the best content possible and makes it easily accessible to them by playing according to the search engine’s rules.

But just like any other sphere in life, even SEO is not white or black, and that is where Grey Hat SEO comes in. It is exactly like it sounds, a little of the black and the rest of the white.

Grey Hat SEO does not require you to cheat the search engine’s system but to bend the rules a tiny bit in your favour. It is not as pristine a white as a pearl but certainly not manipulative as black hat can be.

 

What Goes into SEO?

As I mentioned earlier, SEO is an umbrella term for the list of practices that you undertake to make your content more accessible for search engines to present when someone comes looking for them. These practices are broadly divided into two categories.

 

1. On-Page SEO: On-page or on-site SEO refers to the practice of optimizing your website’s pages to improve its search rankings and generate relevant, profitable organic traffic. The core of on-page SEO is to create high-quality content, but apart from that, it also includes optimizing:

  1.  Title Tag
  2. Meta description
  3. Headlines
  4. Header tags
  5. Keyword placement
  6. Content Audit
  7. Image Optimization
  8. Internal Linking
  9. Use of rich media like video embeds, infographics etc.

On-page SEO is essential because it provides the search engine with an overview as to what the content on your website is all about and its relevance to a search query. On-page SEO is also very critical because you have greater control when optimizing for on-site elements – as opposed to off-page SEO that consists of external signals (i.e., backlinks).

 

  1. Off-Page SEO: Off-page or off-site SEO refers to all activities that you undertake away from your website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs).

 

Building backlinks is at the center of off-page SEO as search engines leverage this as a parameter to judge a website’s level of expertise, trustworthiness and authority. Based on how they are earned, links are divided into three types:

 

  1. Natural Links
  2. Manually built links
  3. Self- created links

To avoid the practice of link spamming, apart from the number of referring domains, search engines also take into account the following factors:

 

  1. Authority of the referring domain and page
  2. Anchor text used to link to the domain
  3. Referring domain’s popularity
  4. The number of outbound links on the referring domain

Owing to the rise of social media in recent years, search engines have also started to factor in social media shareability, social media engagement etc. These include:

 

  1. Social media marketing
  2. Guest blogging
  3. Linked and unlinked brand mentions
  4. Influencer marketing

Conclusion:

Due diligence and constant effort are critical when it comes to SEO, but it can turn into a futile and exhaustive exercise very soon if not executed correctly. But, Don’t let that freak you out. Generally speaking, the essential things stay consistent over time and with the right research and partners, the prospects of digital success are limitless.

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