What Is Search Engine Optimization: The Complete Guide To SEO

what is search engine optimization
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How many times have you found a website that you were looking for on the second or third pages of the search engine results? The answer is probably never. And why is that? Because search engines work hard to provide the most fitting result on the first page. 

So when it comes to getting your website onto the top of the search engine results page, how do you go about doing it? The answer lies with search engine optimization. 

But what is search engine optimization? Why is search engine optimization (SEO) important to your website? 

In this article, we’ll take a look at SEO in-depth and discuss some of the ways that you can get your website ranking high in the search results. 

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

There are currently over 1.7-billion websites online. Whenever you type in a search term on a search engine such as Google or Bing, your request will be checked against all of these sites and the most relevant will be returned in order of significance. 

Search engines use powerful algorithms to measure the relevance of the site. There are several key ranking factors that website owners need to be aware of if they want to ensure they get the traffic that they’re looking for.

Search engine optimization is the practice of preparing your website and your content so that it is more likely to be picked up by search engines and be returned at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). By hitting the top of the search rankings, you’re likely to get more traffic.

How Important Is It to Rank High?

When it comes to generating hits from the search engine results page, you’ll need to be in the top spot, or at least the top five results if you want to get any meaningful traffic. 

31% of all clicks go to the number one hit on any search results page. The numbers really start to drop off after this top spot. By the time you get to the second page of results, less than one percent of searches result in a click. 

So, how do you go about improving your ranking position? 

Let’s take a look at the different types of SEO you could deploy to push your site up to the top of the search rankings. 

What Are the Different Types of SEO?

There are a number of different types of SEO. These include: 

  • On-page SEO– This is to do with the content on your site
  • Off-page SEO– This relates to anything that you do away from your site to drive traffic
  • Local SEO– This relates to driving traffic to your local business
  • Technical SEO– This relates to all of the technical aspects of your site that affect your ranking factor. 

Let’s look at each of these different types of SEO in closer detail. 

On-Page SEO – Content is King

The main reason that anyone will visit your site is because of the content that you have on there Whether you’re aiming to inform people or sell to them; ensuring you have high-quality content should be your number one goal. 

The amount of effort that you put in to delivering the best content possible will help you to get more hits. 

Search engines know that their success relies on their ability to send people to the right content. If they can get it right on the first site that they recommend for any search term, then they are doing their job well. 

To ensure your content is great, there are a few things you need to consider. 

Use Natural Keywords

Keywords are significant terms that relate to the content that you are creating. By adding keywords to your content, you’ll be able to give the search engines an idea of what the content is really about. 

The more relevant your keyword is to your content the better. This is why you should always ensure you use relevant keywords in your content. 

But be careful, keywords should sit naturally and not be stuffed or forced into your content. 

It might be tempting to fill your content with keywords so that it ranks higher. However, if you do this, it won’t make for a great read and any visitors to your site won’t want to stick around to read your content. 

The likes of Google understand this fact. For this reason, they will likely penalize any sites found to be stuffing keywords into their content in an unnatural way. This will lead to your site ranking lower than you may have done otherwise. 

Avoid the temptation to create content that only the search engines will be able to read. You will lose out on visitors. 

Write Longer More Informative Content 

Whenever a search engine sends a visitor to your website, it believes that your website will provide the visitor with all of the relevant information that they need relating to the specific search topic. Often, this means that a user will be sent to a site that has a lot of content. 

Writing longer articles will allow you to cover more ground. If you can create posts for your website that have more than 1,000 words, then you’ll be able to drive more traffic.

Write Meta Descriptions 

Meta descriptions are information about your content that will appear in the search engine results. Every page should have its own individual meta description that is original and relevant to the content. 

A great meta description will let users know what they can expect from the content that they are clicking on. Ideally, you should be able to get the message across in approximately 120-160 characters. 

This will be the first thing that people will see when your content appears in the search results. A well-written meta description could make the difference between your site receiving clicks and being overlooked. 

What is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page SEO relates to any work that you carry out away from your site to increase your website traffic. This includes a process called link building. 

Although off-page SEO is often focused around link building, it does also include social networking activities such as Facebook SEO and Instagram SEO. 

Let’s dig a little deeper into backlinks. 

Backlinks

You may be wondering exactly what is a backlink. Well, first of all, it is important to establish the fact that there are three different types of backlinks. These are: ]

  • Internal backlinks – Hyperlinks within your content that take visitors to another part of your website
  • External backlinks- These are links within your content that take the user to an external site
  • Links to your site from another site

It is important that you look at all three of these types of links and have a strategy in place for ensuring you have backlinks within all of your content. 

So what does this mean? 

Well, on every page or post on your website you should include at least one internal link and one external. The more content there is on a page, the more links you should include. 

Your internal links should link you back to relevant content elsewhere on your site. Your external links should take your visitors to any relevant supporting content or information from a reputable site elsewhere. 

All of the links that you use should be high-quality and they should add value to the content that you are creating. This should apply to both the internal links and the external links. 

Building Backlinks

Whenever you create any content for your site, you want to be considered to be a reputable source. One way to get the likes of Google to believe that you are a reputable source is to get other sites to link back to your content. 

Ideally, when you get other sites to link back to you, they should be a reputable site themselves. 

So, how do you get other sites to link to your content?

Your first step should be to build a relationship with bloggers and influencers. There are many sites that will either link to your website in their own content, or that will allow you to write a guest post which can include any of your quality backlinks to your site. 

Social Sharing

Actively sharing your content on social media is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website. Although there is no definite link between search rankings and the way that your content is shared across social media, you should still ensure that you are using social media to your advantage. 

Sharing your content across a wide range of different social media sites will help you to build up to your reputation and to drive traffic. 

Your site should include social share buttons and you should actively encourage visitors to share your content on their social media profiles to help you reach a wider audience. 

What is Technical SEO?

The name ‘technical SEO’ may sound a little daunting, however, there is very little to be scared of. Most of the improvements that can be made are actually quite simple. 

One of the major areas associated with technical SEO is the speed that your site loads at. 

Let’s take a look at the ways that you can improve the speed of your website. 

Speed Up Your Site 

When people make a search using any search engine, they want their results quickly. Not only that, but they want to be able to navigate to their chosen page quickly. This means that your website needs to load fast. 

Many people won’t even wait for more than three seconds before they give up and move onto the next site. Don’t forget, the next site is your competitor. If your site is that slow, you’re risking sending all of your potential visitors to a different site.  

Google and other search engines understand this fact and as such, webpage loading speeds are a ranking factor.  

This means that if your website loads up quicker than a similar site, you’ll be more likely to rank higher than them. 

Because of this, page load speed is an important aspect of SEO and it is something that you need to put effort into addressing. 

Google’s Page Speed Insights will give you an idea of just how fast your site actually is. By scanning your site using this tool, you’ll be able to see exactly where you need to make improvements, 

Once you’ve run your page speed test you’ll need to make any recommended changes to your site to speed it up. These changes may mean using lazy-load plugins, deleting unused or resource-heavy plugins, and compressing the images that appear on the site. 

What is Local SEO?

If your business is reliant on local trade, then you should optimize your site for local SEO. Local SEO is one of the best ways of getting your website ranking higher than anything else on the search results page. 

Sign up to Google My Business. This is a free service that will let you claim your business listing and control it. Once you’ve got Google My Business, you can quite literally put yourself on the map using Google Maps. 

To make the most of Google My Business, make sure that you complete all of the required fields. Your name, address, and phone number, and other information need to match that found on your website or it could affect your position in the search results. 

Hiring a Search Engine Optimization Specialist

Now that you know the answer to the question of what is search engine optimization you may feel ready to tackle the task of getting your website to the top of the rankings. If, however, you feel as though this task is too great, we’ve got you covered. 

We offer a range of different SEO services to help you to maximize your traffic. Get in touch today to find out how we can help in getting your site to the top of the search results.