What is SEO

What it is and How it All Works

So, what is SEO? SEO, or Search engine optimization is a term used to describe a broad range of the changes and adjustments that can be made to websites and their respective pages or blog posts, and also efforts outside of the website to emphasize its relevance. All of which are done in an effort to make the website or blog post a valuable and informative source of information for its subject matter and thus appear in the first few positions of search engine’s search results. But before discussing the details of SEO and some of what is involved in performing SEO, it will make more sense to first understand some important points about how search engines work. In the simplest of terms, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are comprised of four main parts. The following is based on Google, the search engine that was performing 82% of searches worldwide as of when this was written.

What is Search Engine Optimization

How Search Engines Work

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The Algorithms: Google’s algorithms are the worlds best kept secret. They are the instructions by which Google operates and produces it’s search results, and is the reason for Google’s tremendous success. It is estimated that Google makes 500 to 600 adjustments to its algorithms each year, and a few times a year usually, Google announces a major “core” update that causes the SEO industry to scramble to figure out the results of the update and how it impacted the Google rankings of the websites and blogs they optimize and manage. These large and small adjustments are made in an effort to continually improve search results and to prevent search results from being manipulated.

The Search Bots:  Each search engine has it’s own search bots, also called “crawlers” or “spiders”. Google has sixteen different bots. Their job again in simple terms is to continuously crawl or scan the web pages and blog posts Google already knows of and new pages and posts they find links to and that were submitted manually to Google. The two primary Googlebots are Googlebot Desktop and Googlebot Smartphone. These two Googlebots cache the current versions of the pages and posts they crawl and send all that they cache back to Google. Googlebots operate under a set of rules or instructions that are always being adjusted and refined. Most websites are crawled every 4 to 30 days. Websites that are constantly being updated such as major news websites are crawled more often. Conversely, pages that are rarely if ever updated are crawled less and less often as time passes without any changes.

The Index: Google’s index is essentially a giant database of web pages and posts that have been visited by Google’s bots, evaluated by Google, (indexed) and prepared to appear in Google’s search results. (It is worth noting that Google does not index every page and post its bots cache and send back to Google.) Think of Google’s index as a library with billions of books with trillions of pages organized in a way that allows Google to quickly produce search results based on the current algorithm.

The Search Results: In 2022, Google was being used to perform 70,000+ searches each second. And every Google search produces results that are governed entirely by Google’s algorithms. When a search is performed in Google, Google’s algorithms evaluate the search phrase and return results that are most relevant to what information Google thinks you are searching for based on your search phrase and how it was composed. The rankings of these search results or the order in which they appear is based on a great number of factors. The key phrases that appear in the web page’s content, the quality and relevance of the content in a web page and its website, links to a web page from other authoritative websites, how mobile friendly the website is, and many other factors that Google uses to evaluate and rank websites.

How SEO Works

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If you are considering the services of an SEO provider and are exploring options, you’ve probably already heard a variety of opinions, theories and strategies about how to get to the top of Google. Since there is no definitive authority or regulating body of any kind on SEO other than very experienced individuals who are generally hard for the average business owner to locate and identify, you will most likely find that making a decision on which SEO firm or person to use a little bit difficult. For this reason, we believe it will be helpful for you to understand some of the fundamental aspects of SEO as you move through the interviewing process.

Partnering with Google: The first, most important aspect of SEO is to clearly understand Google’s purpose in life; Google became the biggest and best search engine by delivering a great user experience. If you were around back when Yahoo first came on the scene, You may recall having to search with a few different search phrases to refine the results in order for Yahoo to find the information you were searching for. Google has become the very best at interpreting search phrases and delivering accurate and helpful search results. Of course there are many internal and external SEO techniques that can help move your website higher in Google’s rankings, some are covered below. But all optimization efforts should have an underlying goal of helping Google deliver a great user experience; create a website that has valuable, informative and well written content, that communicates it’s message in a variety of ways, is easy to use and friendly to all audiences, and performs well on all devices. An effective SEO provider will have the skills and experience to achieve these objectives while simultaneously optimizing every step of the way. If you find yourself speaking with an SEO provider who does not seem focused on this fundamental idea, you should probably keep looking.

Proper Planning is Imperative: Helping Google achieve its goals while effectively optimizing your website begins with an SEO Plan that addresses each of the points above along with the site’s structure and navigation and the key phrases that will be used to optimize each page. If you are subscribing to SEO services for your existing website or are having a new website designed and optimized, make sure to review the “Design And Optimization Plan” with your provider before design and development begins. This will confirm that your website design and optimization team has a clear understanding of what you need your new website to be and do. And a clear optimization plan that they can show you and explain will confirm that they have done the necessary research and do in fact have a good plan on how to achieve your goals.

Identifying and Composing the Best Key Phrases: Selecting the best key phrases is very important. While key phrases should be tested and reevaluated regularly, you have to start somewhere. Choosing the best key phrases and using them correctly can get your website off to a great start. The Key phrases chosen for a page should accurately reflect the content of that page. Remember, you have to help Google understand what the page is about, no games or attempts to trick Google. And key phrases can also be improved with geo-targeting.  If a good key phrase is identified, be sure it assigned to the most appropriate page in your site first. Then, if you are targeting or trying to rank high in a certain city or state, the city or state name can be added to the key phrase in a way that allows it to be used in the page’s content in a grammatically correct way. Another key point on key phrases involves competition. Your new ten page website that is full of great content and properly optimized, will not rank above a much larger, properly optimized website that is years older, (initially). To quickly compete with these established highly optimized websites using the same key phrases, your website will need to be similar in size and scope, with more informative and more helpful content, and be extensively optimized internally and externally. If you are in an extremely competitive industry, ask the SEO providers you are considering to show you examples of their success in other competitive industries.

Content Development: Quality content that is properly and extensively optimized is one of, if not the most powerful aspect of SEO. The goal through every step of website design and optimization is to help Google deliver a good experience to its users. And quality detailed content such as what you are reading right now is highly valuable to SEO. And most of the good website design and optimization agencies and individuals understand this and will help compose the necessary optimized content. But remember they do not know what you know about your business and your industry. Make sure those who are composing your content are asking you for details about your business, products and services, and what differentiates your business from your competitors. If they are not, tell them about your business’s unique qualities, what your customers are mostly concerned with and anything else you usually discuss with your customers and clients. And make sure all of these details are included in your site’s content by proofing what is being composed about your business. Without these details, your content may be thin and lack the quality and detail that will be necessary to achieve competitive rankings.

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