What is SEO? A Complete Overview of the SEO Tree

what is seo

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Anytime you look into digital marketing you’re going to hear about SEO.

And it’s often talked about like the whole affair is just common knowledge, leaving uneducated readers questioning what exactly is going on.

Have you found yourself asking “What is SEO”?

If so, you’re in the right place. Read on as we break down the basics and get you up to speed with this invaluable marketing tool.

So, What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a set of best practices to climb up the search engine page rankings. Basically, with proper SEO implemented you’re more likely to appear at the top of Google or any other search engine.

The main focus is on Google for most people since the tech conglomerate takes the lion’s share when it comes to search traffic. On the other hand, many people are learning the ins-and-outs of other large search engines as well, including Bing, Amazon, and YouTube for more specialized applications.

The goal is to appear on top.

Google’s first page takes a whopping 71-92% of the clicks which are made, any further back and you’re in a losing position. When was the last time you found yourself past page two on Google?

SEO itself can be broken down into three separate categories:

  1. On-Page SEO
  2. Off-Page SEO
  3. Technical SEO

If all three are in place and done well, you’re looking at a win. In the end, your ranking is determined by algorithms put in place by search engines and SEO looks to work with the equations to bring the best result for the end-user.

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization used to be a mess. In the older, darker days Google focused entirely on keyword density. You might remember a time when searching for anything turned into a cluster of cheap, poorly done pages that didn’t answer your query.

That sort of activity is actively punished now.

Instead, your focus on on-page optimization relies on the content which you’re producing. Keyword focus is still a thing, but with the rise of semantic searches the landscape has changed.

The focus now is on putting out high-quality content which will bring the user what they need to know. Best practices still include exact match instances of keywords, but a quick Google search will show you that the top results don’t always have them.

Other best practices include out-linking to related material and internal linking through your web page.

Off-Page Optimization

Your off-page optimization mostly consists of backlinks.

When someone links to your page, you get a backlink. Since someone is referencing you directly, Google will begin to rank the page higher.

Once again practices have changed over time. Links are now rated for quality, making many link building strategies outdated.

Organic backlinks are the best, especially since they don’t require effort on your part, but most people will still want to engage in active link building initially. That can include outreach for guest blog posts, press releases, anything which gets your URL on a reputable page.

Technical Optimization

Technical optimization isn’t discussed as often as link profiles or content but it’s important.

Currently, the following factors are extremely important for ranking:

  • Site structure
  • Web page speed
  • Mobile compatibility

It’s usually pretty easy to get in order, especially for newer pages, but many people make the mistake of ignoring it. All other factors being equal it can give you a competitive edge.

Site structure is self-explanatory, although there are numerous strategies to help crawlers understand the relevance of the page in context.

Page speed is a known factor for both mobile and desktop searches. The faster the better.

Further Understanding SEO

Google’s focus is almost entirely on the user experience. That is to say, the person who’s typing in that little white box.

Their algorithms are getting better at it too.

SEO can be divided into white and black hat SEO.

White hat techniques have staying power since they’re primarily focused on helping the end user. These range from organic link building through social media to just having awesome content in the first place.

It also takes a lot of work. Some people would rather take short cuts.

Black hat SEO is designed to game the algorithms. It can provide an impressive amount of traffic in a short period of time, but you’re likely to see a decline quickly as well.

The important thing to remember when you’re engaging in any SEO work is this: the end user is what matters, if your strategy doesn’t effectively help them then you’re using a loophole which is going to end sooner or later.

There’s a big reason that experts exist in this field: part of SEO is almost artistic. The algorithms used by Google are a closely guarded secret and constantly change.

It requires constant attention to small updates to the algorithm, plenty of technical skill, and an understanding of the entire field of digital marketing to become a successful SEO. A bit of innate talent is required as well.

Bringing SEO to Life

So, now you know the answer to the question “what is SEO?” and you’re either excited or intimidated.

Working with an expert is the best choice for most businesses, but there’s no harm in learning the basics yourself so you know what you’re getting into.

If you’re still on the learning path then check out our blog, where we keep you informed about the wide world of internet marketing.

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