SEO stands for search engine optimization.It is the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial or natural search results and practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of driving targeted traffic to your website from search engines. Common tasks associated with SEO include creating high-quality content, optimizing content around specific keywords and building backlinks.
SEO involves technical and creative activities that are often grouped into ‘Onsite SEO’ and ‘Offsite SEO’. This terminology is quite dated, but it is useful to understand, as it splits practices that can be performed on a website, and away from a website.
Google score their search results largely based upon relevancy and authority of pages it has crawled and included in its web index, to a users query to provide the best answer.
Google uses over 200 signals in scoring their search results and SEO encompasses technical and creative activities to influence and improve some of those known signals. It’s often useful to not focus too much on individual ranking signals and look at the wider goal of Google, to provide the best answers for its users.
SEO, therefore, involves making sure a website is accessible, technically sound, uses words that people type into the search engines, and provides an excellent user experience, with useful and high quality, expert content that helps answers the user’s query.
Google has a very large team of search quality raters that evaluate the quality of search results, that gets fed into a machine learning algorithm. Google’s search quality rater guidelines provide plenty of detail and examples of what Google class as high or low quality content and websites, and their emphasis on wanting to reward sites that clearly show their expertise, authority and trust (EAT).
Google uses a hyperlink based algorithm (known as ‘PageRank’) to calculate the popularity and authority of a page, and while Google is far more sophisticated today, this is still a fundamental signal in ranking. SEO can therefore also include activity to help improve the number and quality of ‘inbound links’ to a website, from other websites. This activity has historically been known as ‘link building’, but is really just marketing a brand with an emphasis online, through content or digital PR for example.
Relevant and reputable websites linking to a website is a strong signal to Google that it might be of interest to its users, and can be trusted to appear in the search results for relevant queries.
Onsite SEO refers to activities on a website to improve organic visibility. This largely means optimising a website and content to improve the accessibility, relevancy and experience for users. Some of the typical activities include –
Keyword Research – Analysing the types of words and frequency used by prospective customers to find a brands services or products. Understanding their intent and a users expectations from their search.
Technical Auditing – Ensuring the website can be crawled and indexed, is correctly geo-targeted, and is free from errors or user experience barriers.
Onsite Optimisation – Improving the website structure, internal navigation, on-page alignment and content relevancy to help prioritise key areas and target relevant search phrases.
User Experience – Ensuring content shows expertise, authority and trust, is simple to use, fast, and ultimately provides the best possible experience to users against the competition.
Offsite SEO refers to activities carried outside of a website to improve organic visibility. This is often referred to as ‘link building’, which aims to increase the number of reputable links from other websites, as search engines use them as a scoring as a vote of trust.
Links from websites and pages with more trust, popularity and relevancy will pass more value to another website, than an unknown, poor website that isn’t trusted by the search engines. So the quality of a link is the most important signal.