What is SEO?
SEO is the abbreviation for “Search Engine Optimization.”
Search engine optimization is the name of the actions carried out to influence the visibility of a website or a web page in the search engines’ organic (unpaid traffic) search results.
By SEO, the goal of a webmaster is to bring his website or a page as closely as possible to the first results of the search engines results (SERP) for one or more specific keyword phrases.
The closest your content appears to the top of the organic results for a given search query, the more clicks it will receive.
According to Chitika, the first three results receive more than 60% of all the clicks.
SERP Average Traffic Share
- First result: 32.5%
- Second result: 17.6%
- Third result: 11.4%
The lower your site’s content appears in the searches, the lower the number of clicks it will receive.
There are also hundreds other small search engines, but none can bring you so much traffic like Google and Bing.
Every search engine has its own search algorithms and can display different results for the same search query.
Although Bing has greatly expanded in recent years, Google remains the biggest and the most complex search engine.
Google changes its search algorithms pretty often to improve the quality of search results and to get rid of the sites that try to cheat the system.
While the Google search results can now display results based on LSI keywords and synonyms, I would say that Bing likes to show more exact-match results (which is not always a bad thing).
Besides that, these two search engines have similar algorithms for displaying their search results, so I wouldn’t say you can optimize your website particularly for Google or Bing.
How SEO Works?
If you want your website’s content to rank well in the results of the search engines, it’s critical to optimize your content.
If you respect the best SEO practices, that will make it easier for the search engines to crawl, index and understand your site’s content.
Some SEO procedures will also improve the user experience, the readability of your articles, and the overall aspect of your website (proper usage of the HTML headings to structure the content, using the title attributes correctly, writing long content, etc.).
If you optimize the content of your site for the search engines, the chances of receiving free traffic from their organic search results will increase drastically.
It’s true that SEO is a complex field and today’s “best practices” might not be considered best practices tomorrow. However, if you do not want to pay for traffic or if you are not willing to post on the social networks all day long, SEO is the best way of getting free traffic.
Search engines use automated bots, called “crawlers” or “spiders” to discover and index the billions of existing websites.
If these web spiders cannot access your pages, or cannot fetch or understand their content, your site might not be added to the index of the search engines.
If you wish to avoid having indexed certain pages of your website, you need to block them with the help of a text file called robots.txt, which must be added to the root directory of your website.
The crawlers of the major search engines will visit this file before accessing other pages of your site, and according to the rules found inside it, they will ignore or access particular pages.
Even so, do not rely entirely on robots.txt to hide pages that contain sensitive data. Besides the crawlers of the search engines, there are many other “evil bots” that are crawling the Web.
Don’t worry too much about these crawlers; You don’t have to remember too many things about them.
Remember though that they can be restricted from accessing and indexing particular URLs using a robots.txt file.
We’ll talk in more detail about the robots.txt file in an upcoming post.
Search Engine Optimization Types
If you’ve already read from time to time articles about SEO, probably you have met terms like “White Hat SEO,” “Grey Hat SEO,” and “Black Hat SEO”.
White Hat SEO refers to the usage of “clean” optimization strategies, techniques and tactics that completely follows the rules and policies of the search engines.
This optimization technique is usually used by those people who do care about their websites, and who expect to get SEO long-term benefits from their efforts.
A clean SEO strategy eliminates the risk of having your site penalized by the search engines.
Grey Hat SEO is somewhere in the middle of the clean White Hat SEO and the Black Hat SEO.
Gray Hat SEO refers to the questionable practices that may or may not attract an SEO penalty for your website. This approach is riskier than White Hat SEO, but not as dangerous as the Black Hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO is the opposite of White Hat SEO, and it refers to the use of aggressive SEO strategies, techniques, and tactics that clearly violates the guidelines of the search engines.
Below are some examples of Black Hat SEO techniques:
- Keyword stuffing (adding a list of keywords somewhere on the page with the intention of having your content ranked for them).
- Adding invisible text (example white text on a white background).
- Building backlinks using PBNs (private blogging networks).
- The usage of 301 redirects for domains with a high number of backlinks to another domain in order for the second domain name to inherit the backlinks of the first.
- Building a high number of backlinks in a short time using automated software.
Black Hat SEO techniques are often used by those people who are looking for quick financial gains from their website, rather than a long-term investment.
Having a solid SEO base is essential if you want to become a successful blogger.
In addition to that, if you have an excellent understanding of SEO and how the algorithms of the search engines work, you can even build a career from it.
The search engine optimization market is enormous and many companies and freelancers provide paid SEO services.
Daily, more companies make the transition from offline to online, and the demand for SEO specialists is thriving.
Now you have a better understanding what SEO is and how it works. In the upcoming posts, I will cover more aspects of SEO and teach you how you can start to optimize your website.