For starters, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. So then what is Search Engine Optimisation?
The core idea of SEO is to increase the amount of relevant traffic to your website/web domain. This simply means that you are trying to attract more people who are looking for the services or products that you are offering to your website and in turn to you.
For a more in-depth explanation, we need to look at the two key points of SEO mentioned above. These are the amount of traffic (or quantity) and the relevance of the traffic you are getting (the quality of the traffic).
The idea behind increasing the amount of traffic is a very simple one. Logically, the more traffic/views/people visiting your website, the more likely you are to find the right visitors who are looking for what you offer. Nice and simple.
The other side is looking at increasing the quality of your traffic. This is where you are trying to attract visitors that are interested in what are you are offering and came here for that specific reason. By trying to improve this aspect, it is much easier to reach your target market.
SEO combines these two aspects ensure more people are visiting your website for all the right reasons. E.g. There’s very little point to having a large amount of traffic on your site looking for hairdressers when you run a barbershop.
So How Does SEO Work?
Since SEO is about trying to appear as a top result of whichever search engine people are using to find services like yours, we must have a little understanding of search engines. The aim of all these search engines is to find the most relevant web pages according to what you input for your search. Major players in the search engine field include well-known names such as Google, Microsoft (Bing) and Yahoo.
Each of these search engines has a method to determine what websites are most relevant. This is referred to by some as an algorithm. Each search engine uses a different method to find results. The factors that determine how you rank in one search engine will not necessarily guarantee you as rank well in another search engine. As each search engine is updated, these factors may also change in importance.
Here is where we try to streamline the process, or, in other words, we optimise it (there’s the O). How SEO works in a very basic sense is to try and attempt to figure out what factors a search engine uses to find results. The next step is to attempt to implement these in your website to rank you higher for that search engine. The last step is to watch your website rise.
What Factors Into SEO?
To give everyone a basic idea of some SEO factors, we will cover three major factors that affect your ranking. First we need to understand two core concepts for SEO and how these link to these three factors. The first concept is your website itself. This is where you have all your content, what people see upon arrival and what people link to. Rather self-explanatory. The other side of the coin is who on the internet is linking to you. One way to look at the situation is how you are connected to other websites and how they are connected to you. These two core ideas build the basis for quite a few of the factors that affect SEO.
Domain-Level, Link Authority
The first factor to take a look at is called the Domain-Level, Link Authority. This factor looks at how your domain as a whole ranks and links to the rest of the web.
This is analysed through multiple factors but here we will focus on two easy to understand factors as an example of what goes into this process: the quantity of links to your domain as a whole and the quality (in this case trust) of the links that go to your domain.
Quantity of links is very self-explanatory. The more links from other websites that direct to your domain as a whole the better it is. As above, you must also look at the quality of the links that are coming into your domain as a whole.
Quality, in this case, refers to the source of the links, i.e. are the websites linking to you trustworthy, do they rank well and things along these lines. As before, you are looking for the best of both factors.
Continuing with the hairstylist examples, if you have many review/critic web domains linking to you, the higher you will rank especially if these sites are well trusted already.
Page-Level, Link Authority
The next factor to look at is the Page-Level, Link Authority. In a general sense, these are very similar to the Domain-Level, Link Authority Features.
The main difference between them is these deal with factors on each individual page instead of on your domain as a whole. Also similar to before, two factors that impact this greatly are the quantity and quality of the links that arrive at each page.
The final factor we will look at is the Keywords. Again, there are multiple facets that contribute to this score but we will focus on a few simple ones.
Firstly, this factor looks at the contents of the page. One of the main keys of the content on your page is keywords. These are the words that people are using to search for in the search engine. For example, if you’re trying to find a hairdresser in Auckland, ‘hairdresser Auckland’ will be your keyword. This is scored by how often it appears on the page.
The search engine also takes into account other keywords that are relevant. These are the words commonly used in conjunction with your particular keyword during searches. The more of these that appear on your page the better. This is just a very basic overview of what this factor contains.
That's about all Folks!
Hopefully, with this guide, you now have a basic understanding of what is SEO. Since this is just a very short explanation of the basics, obviously we have more goodies to share.
For a great in-depth guide to doing your own SEO, take a look at INBOUND's Ultimate Guide to SEO. This guide covers multiple topics within SEO in both video and text format, so definitely check it out.