What is SEO – A simple Answer for Beginners
What is SEO, a simple answer, doesn’t intend to rank in Google search. What this post attempts, is to give my readers an understanding of the term that mostly everyone with a website or online business has heard of, but don’t fully comprehend.
It’d only be logical that, if you have an online business, you’d come across the term and have wondered what is SEO. I’ll try to give you a simple answer for beginners and also explain its impact on the success and visibility of your online business or website.
Search Engine Optimisation is a collection of actions that attempt to improve the ranking of a webpage or website in search engines. This is, the position a website or a particular URL appears at, in search engines like Google.
The Search and the Results
When you type anything in Google Search, they will display in various pages the results they consider will answer your query.
Sometimes, Google can track millions of results, hence the dozens of pages of results. Example, type “website design”, “life coaching”, “what is SEO”, or “sex”! Google comes up with millions of results.
Google prioritises results based on a complex algorithm. Of course, the ones that Google think are the best results, will be shown first. Typically, no one bothers to go beyond the first page (first 10 results) so you must endeavour to position here as many pages from your website as possible.
The actions taken with a view to be as high up in the results as possible, are what we call SEO.
Search Engines Index
The first thing that your website needs once it’s up and running, is to be crawled and indexed by search engines like Google.
This means that your site has been tracked, that it’s been included in the vast space of the internet (there are around TWO BILLION websites). But that’s as far as it goes. It barely means that they know you exist, that your presence in the world wide web has been acknowledged.
However, that your website has been indexed, doesn’t mean that it is visible. Refer to the link above for more on the subject of visibility.
The Ranking and Position
As I said above, Google prioritises their results for any given term, based on hundreds of different factors (including algorithmic calculations) that range from the age of your domain name to keyword density, bounce rates or website speed. (Google’s 200 ranking factors, updated for 2019).
The ranking and position of your website will depend on how well you’ve been able to optimise your site or particular page of your site for any given keyword, as well as their relevance and authority.
The Relevance and Authority
The better the result or position Google shows, the higher they think the “authority” and “relevance” of that page is.
Authority and relevance are mostly measured by analysing the number and quality of links from other web pages to yours. In simple terms, your website and web pages have the potential to rank better in Google when other pages link to them.
Keywords are the terms by which you want your website (and web pages) to be found on the search engines.
Being very simplistic, if I’m a family therapist, that would be my main keyword* and I’d try to optimise my website to achieve the best possible rankings for it.
*Notice that family therapist is ONE KEYWORD, albeit formed by two words. Keywords can be “long tail” and formed by several words. For instance, one keyword for a blogpost could be why you need a family therapist.
Each online business website has many keywords. You must identify the most important ones first and then work your way down to other less important but still relevant keywords.
What you must ensure is that Google fully understands what your whole website is about. Don’t mix topics (and therefore keywords) within your site or blog, or Google will never understand your main field of expertise, so to speak.
For example. Following the family therapist keyword.
You’ve made an effort to create a great web structure mentioning related keywords in a few pages of your site. Then, in your blog, you start writing posts with titles and topics that don’t have much to do with family therapy. In this case, Google will not rank your site well.
Imagine you go in the history section of a bookshop and in you find books on SEO, science and photography, as well as history. It would be a mess, right? Doesn’t make sense and it makes it much harder for you to find what you’re looking for. The same will experience Google if you write blogposts or static pages with dissimilar subjects.
Make sure you write about the same global subject (therapy, family therapy, psychotherapy, etc.) and then a few other subjects (other types of therapy or psychotherapy, other kinds of treatments of methods, such as coaching, counselling…).
SEO on-page and SEO off-page
The actions and strategies you use within your website in order optimise its ranking and position in Google search is SEO on-page.
Examples: creating friendly URLs, meta titles, meta descriptions, etc., that contain the main keyword for that page or post. Linking efficiently pages within your site. Creating a good website structure. Writing good copy and contents.
The actions and strategies that you use outside of your website in order to optimise its relevance and authority with a view to improve your position in Google search is SEO off-page.
SEO off-page typically includes:
- Writing good content in your blog so that others will link to it (obtaining backlinks in a natural way)
- Using the power of social media to make our content viral
- And also, what we call linkbuilding (obtaining backlinks but kind of in more “forceful” way, for example, by writing guest posts in other blogs with topics that are similar to or complement ours).
More on what backlinks are, for beguiners.
To quickly explain the difference between obtaining backlinks in a “natural” and more “forceful” way, let me refer you to a link I placed earlier in this post.
See the link about Google’s 200 ranking factors above? It points to a website outside of this one. The link is “natural” because no one asked me to place it in my post. I did it because I found the content pretty good, comprehensive and, most of all, relevant and appropriate to this post.
If the owner of that website had come to me asking to place a backlink to his site in one of my posts or to be granted a guest post that contained a backlink, it wouldn’t be as natural.
So, basically, we’re talking about natural vs sought after backlinks.
I know that this post doesn’t give you the keys to SEO or how to write better posts from the SEO perspective. Its only intention was to present you with an overview of what SEO is and how it works, from a complete beginner’s viewpoint.
There’s also a similar post about what website design is which gives you an overview of the different choices to have your site built, amongst other things.
I hope the post was useful for you. If you have any doubts or would like to tell us what you think, please do not hesitate to comment below. I’ll be more than happy to answer anything you have to ask.