What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

When you hear people talking about SEO, they are discussing how websites are designed to enable them to rank higher in the search engines.

Putting the highest quality content in front of the user searching for information is the key objective of search engines.  

Search engines are programmed to use signals that identify pages that should rank higher.

The Search Engines do not care if you think your content is better than one of your competitors and should rank higher.

This is why you need to follow a SEO strategy.

Discussion Points:

In this Article, I'll be taking you through these signals and discussing how to design your site with SEO in mind.  

I will then show you how to build links off-site to stimulate these signals, which will enable you to get higher page rankings for your website.

There are so many websites today that are not set up correctly for search engine optimization.

This means great content is often lost and never read because these signals are not getting picked up by the algorithms used by the search engines..

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is the process of improving the visibility of content on the search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

What Is SEO? - Table Of Content

Benefits Of SEO

The benefits of having your website optimized correctly for the search engines are huge:

  • You can tap into free organic traffic by having your content listed at the top of the search results, potentially resulting in thousands of more potential visitors and traffic to your content.
  • By optimizing your content based on certain keywords you will ensure that you reach targeted traffic that will be highly interested in your niche or market.
  • You will have a faster, more user friendly website which is well structured and encourages your visitors to stay longer.  This decreases bounce rates and increases your views.

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History Of Seo

The Search engines are constantly evolving and changing their algorithms to update the signals they use to rank quality content higher for the end user.

Google is the world leader in search engine traffic, with the other search engines performing a much smaller number of the searches daily.

Typically Google will release software updates to their algorithm and the smaller search engines like Bing, Yahoo, AOL will follow suit.

Since 2000 Google has had hundreds of tweaks to their software, it is important to note that these tweaks have resulted in removing low-quality content from the search engine.

These updates mostly pinpoint blackhat SEO tactics, that once would have worked to help rank websites higher in search engines.  

However these loopholes have now been closed and those sites deploying the black hat tactic have dropped in rankings.

Moving forward it is really important to understand how these systems operate today and how to manipulate your site to trigger the signals to move up search engines.

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What Is A Search Engine ?

Put simply 'A search engine is a software system that manages the pages that are found as a user searches for content'.

The primary focus of ranking content is to ensure that the highest quality content based upon the words that are being searched for is found at the top of the search engines.

The words users search for are called keywords.

When you search for something, the search engines attempt to identify who you are and create a web search near where you are located.  

They make an educated guess on what you are looking for.

The search engines weed out hundreds of thousands of low-quality content, or rather content that has not been optimised for the search engines each week.

Therefore, it is really important to understand the best practices in SEO, to ensure you rank your website higher for the targeted demographic and your chosen targeted keywords.

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Search Engine Share Of Market

According to Global Stats from January 2019 to January 2020, Worldwide, Google was used 92.6% of the time.

search engine market share

As mentioned before this is the reason I focus mostly on Google, rather than the other search engines. Visitors are using those search engines at a significantly lower rate than Google.

As a side note, if your site has more traffic from Yahoo or Bing, then you have a problem with Google.

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How Did Google Become So Successful?

In 1998 Google took the approach and led the pack in ensuring its users found the highest quality content in the shortest amount of time.  

Google become a household name overnight by taking the approach of valuing user experience in finding high-quality content fast.

The other search engines took the alternative view of encouraging their users to stay on their site for longer. 

I can't say it often enough as it is fundamental to optimizing your site,  Googles fundamental goal, is to provide its users with the highest quality content in the shortest amount of time.  

Always keep this in mind when optimizing your site for higher rankings.

Google has invested more into their search engine than any other company and their software engineers are considered to be some of the best programmers in the world.

These programmers have built a system that measures signals that no other search engine handles.  

Their programmers and analysts are constantly testing new concepts to continue to improve the highest quality content for the end user.

This makes Google the most accurate and honest search engine to use. 

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Why Is SEO So Important?

Now to the really interesting bit, let's talk more about search engine optimization and why it is so important for your website.

The following graph by Advanced web ranking shows that an incredible 34% of users clicked on the first link shown when searching for something.  

Then 15% for the second link, meaning that users click on the first two links 50% of the time.  If that's not a reason to ensure your website is optimized correctly, I don't know what is.

organic click through rates

Another important of SEO is that, when you have produced a great piece of content that deserves to rank for your chosen keywords, it will continue to pay dividends over time.  

It is not one off like advertising.  You traffic will grow and grow and these extra vistiors to your site will help ensure you remain ranking highly.

By implementing great SEO strategies you will boost your rankings, boost your traffic for more visits and eventually make more money for your business.

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How Do The Search Engines Work?

Let's discuss for a moment how search engines work. 

I mentioned briefly how a search engine is a software system that sorts content, by relevance. 


Search engines crawl billions of web pages on the Internet to seek out content.  

It does not matter what software was used to create your website or where your website is hosted,  the search engine will remember what information was found on each individual page.  

This is called indexing.

Typically your web pages will be searched weekly and updated, but you will have the ability to tell search engines how frequently to come back to your site to see new content and new pages.

The higher the value of your site and pages, the quicker your pages will be crawled, searched and ranked by search engines.

The search engines take into consideration, relevance and popularity when indexing your site.

What comes first:

'Ranking a website higher to gain popularity' or 'Gaining popularity through other means in order to rank higher and grow your traffic and popularity?'

Welcome to the conundrum that is search engine optimization.

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SEO Ranking Factors

There are hundreds of ranking factors.

Each ranking factor is weighted differently with both positive and negative points, so it is really important to understand both the positive and negative points of each ranking factor when optimizing your site.

The search engines are always updating their algorithms and ranking factors, but many commonly known ranking factors are: 

1.  Keyword in meta data and description.

Including your primary keyword in your meta data is a relevant signal to the search engines,  including the keyword, makes the search more relevant to the user.  

It also helps gain user clicks from the search results pages.

2.  Placing Keywords or related keywords throughout your content.

Placing Keyword or related keywords throughout the content is important, mentioning the keyword throughout your blog and content helps the search engines know that that content, is relevant to that keyword.

Also, place related keywords, also known as Latent Semantic Indexing, throughout your text.  

These are synonyms which are different meanings which relate to your keyword.  

The search engines are smart enough to know that if you type in weight loss, and you also mention fitness or dieting, that those keywords are related.

They can link those together and determine what is relevant.

3.  Consideration of Keyword Density (How many times a keyword is mentioned in your content).

Keyword Density refers tos how many times a keyword is mentioned in teh content.  

Until recently including your keyword a large number os times was a sure fire way of ranking your blog, however this has changed so you need to make sure that you don't over use your keyword.  

Just use it where relevant.

4.  Content Length.

The search engines want to give their users informative information, so I would recommend aiming for articles with more than 2000 words.  

This then shows your article is more in-depth and should cover more about your desired subject than a shorter article.

5.  Publish High Quality Content

The quality of your content is crucial for ranking your website.  

Your website needs to provide what the user wants, so by ensuring your content is high quality will result in readers spending more time on page, it will result in lower bounce rates and provide useful information for your readers. 

Also note that your content needs to be 100% unique for every page and unique from any other site.

Google has pushed out updates recently trying to weed out thin content, so make this a priority.

6.  Image Optimization.

By adding a keyword as the alt tag in any images or media included in your blog will also help with ranking your website.

7.  Internal Linking

Ensure the content and images included on your website are linked to each other.  

Linking internally provides great ranking benefits as you pass forward some of the link juice gained between the different pages on your site.

Google likes to see natural links so ensure you vary your links, mass linking or multiple links using the same anchor text will not help your rank.

8.  Outbound Linking

​Linking to other sites that are an authoritative source in your niche or which are relevant to your article is a great way to send trust signals to the search engines.

Too many outbound links however are not good so use them in moderation.

9.  Including your keyword in your domain name.

Having your primary keyword, the keyword you are trying to rank for in your domain name may help your ranking.

10.  Domain Age

The age of your domain name, the name you registered with godaddy or bluehost, is an important ranking factor.

Google knows the domain is brand new, so the domain will not have as much authority as a domain name that might have been around for a lot longer.  

Google states that sites that have been around for longer than a year are more trustworthy.

It is important to remember that as you keep blogging and creating content on your domain and on your website that will help boost and increase the exposure that you get in the search engines over time.

11.  Site Load Speed

If your site takes a long time to load, or has a slow server, or there are too many files, images, graphics or plugins, that slow it down, then this will negatively affect your ranking.

Google wants to ensure that people have a positive experience when they go to your website, and the more positive experience that they have, than the higher that they are going to rank you in their search engine. 

12.  Social Sharing

Social sharing, also known as social signals, is imporatant.  

Sharing your content on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, will tell the search engines that your website and content is popular, and rank you higher.

13.  Quality and Relevant Backlinks

Quality and relevant backlinks are external links from different websites.

I mention quality backlinks because you can get a whole bunch of low quality links from a bunch of low quality websites.  

If you have links from big, authoritative websites that are popular, and on top of that, relevant to what your niche and to what your content is about, then that is another factor that the search engines look at.

14.  Website Usage

Another search engine ranking factor is your website usage.  This includes how much traffic you generate and how long your readers stay on your pages.

When you writing engaging content and your users stay on your website, then higher rankings will be awarded, but if you have a high bounce rates and readers are leaving quickly then your ranking will drop.

These are just some of the basic core SEO ranking factors.  I recommend reviewing these factors on a regular basis as they change often.

Remember the number-one objective is to create the highest quality content for the website visitors.

By having great content, your visitors will naturally share your content and link to your content which lets the search engines know that your content is popular, which in turn helps you rank higher.

If you content is great, you apply basic SEO and optimize your keywords then you will do well in the rankings.

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SEO Backlink Strategy

The ultimate goal of SEO is to rank your website on the first page, preferably in the top three spots.  

In the past most SEO strategies involved building a mass of back links, it didn't matter what website you linked to as long as you linked.  

Today however having poor quality back links can negatively affect your site rankings, the majority of sites on the internet are considered low quality so you must do your research when considering what backlinks to include.

High quality links are notoriously hard to earn, but when you do successfully earn quality links from websites relevant to you articles, you will notice a huge difference in your business ranking.

Point to note - If your site is about dieting, then you really don't want to have links from a bike website or any other business that is completely unrelated to your content.

Irrelevant links are a signal that you are using poor SEO tactics in your site.

Domain Rank

One of our main goals is to boost the domain rank for each page we are trying to rank on our sites in search engines.

Once your domain rank is higher than your competitors typically you will be able to rank above your competitors.

So if your site is a 10 domain rank and your competitor is a 30 then we need to build high quality links from trusted sites to boost your domain rank.

Once you are equal to or above your competitor then you will be able to be more competitive.

Page Rank

Now for page rank, this works by monitoring the number of links you have to a page, alongside the quality of those links.  

Then Google and the other search engines determine how important the website is.

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What Are Search Engine Spiders?

Let's now talk about Search Engine Spiders and how these crawlers look at your site to index new content.

Spiders are software systems that crawl through your pages and posts, reading all text, hyperlinks and code.

These spiders will navigate through all the links on your site and find your site through the sitemap submitted.  

They read through all text, hyperlinks and code.  They then provide a profile of your site to the search engines.

If you have a page on your site that you do not want to index, you need to set your meta tags to nofollow, which means it will not get indexed.

These spider bots will save all of the data that's found into the Webmaster Tools account for your website.

Think of webmaster tools as an admin panel for how Google sees your website.

Keep in mind these spiders will crawl your site and there is no way to manipulate these spiders to get higher rankings. 

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On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO

There are two different parts of SEO that you need to focus on, there is onpage SEO and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO is everything that you do on your website to make it more relevant to the keywords that you’re targeting:

  • Keywords in the Title, description, alt text on images etc
  • Internal linking
  • Site speed
  • Great Content

Off-page SEO is everything that you do outside of your website to boost the popularity of your content.

This is mostly referred to as 'backlinking'.  It is the process of having other people link to your website or link to your content. 

The more external links that point to your website or content, and the higher quality and more relevant they are, the more likely you will rank higher as this tells Google and the search engines that your content is popular.

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Tips For SEO

Before I close, I just want to give you a few tips that I've picked up along the way.

1.  As with everything in life, too much of something can be a bad thing, so be careful not to over-do it when optimizing your site.

You can be penalised for over optimizing your site.

2.  Do not publish content that has been copied or duplicated.  Always focus on producing unique content.

Google will know that the content has been used and indexed elsewhere and will penalize you.

3.  Keep up to date with the ever changing world that is Search Engine Optimization.  SEO is forever changing, so what you did yesterday , might not work tomorrow so keep on top of reading relevant articles.

4.  There are a variety of 'black hat' SEO tactics that result in your website being penalized if you decide to use them, so ensure you always focus on doing things by the book.

SEO is an important element of your online marketing strategy.  

About The Author

Guido Nesa

Guido is a recognized  SEO expert and founder of GN DIGITAL.