Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting traffic to a specific web page from the unpaid, organic, and editorial results from any search engine.
While you may be familiar with major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, SEO can be practiced for hundreds of search engines available online.
To understand what SEO is, we need to know more about search engines and how they work.
How Search Engines Work
A search engine is similar to the catalog at your local library – but instead of helping you find books, the search engine enables you to find the answers to your query.
It uses a computer algorithm which collects information from all over the Internet and then ranks the answers.
This ranking comes from on-page factors like the quality of the website’s content and usability, as well as off-page factors like the qualifications of the author or how many other sites are linking to a page as their source.
Each search engine has a unique algorithm for determining these search rankings. This means using a different strategy for helping a web page rank for the searches for which it provides information.
How SEO Works
In its simplest explanation, SEO is giving a search engine algorithm all the indications you can so that the algorithm:
- Knows what your content is about
- Ranks your content higher than similar web pages
How you do this optimization depends on which search engine you are optimizing for.
Any SEO service worth their weight will focus on Google since the vast majority of search traffic is done through their engine or apps built into android smartphones.
On top of the different search engines, there are different types of searches inside a single search engine.
Google has different rankings for searches that include:
- Local Businesses
SEO works by providing the algorithm with the information it needs to place your website in the search results which are most relevant to your targeted readers.
Organic vs. Paid Results
Most search engines make money by selling advertising at the top of their search results.
These paid results are usually clearly marked with an indicator that they are an ad and not part of the organic results.
Paid search results are 100% pay to play, and the highest bidders will be featured higher in the ads.
Organic results are the result of am algorithm finding relevant answers to the search query and ranking them by what it considers the most helpful information.
These results are frequently referred to as “natural” results, or results based on merit instead of who can pay the most.
All search engines strive to give you the best organic results from websites or pages they deem to be the most relevant, trustworthy, and authoritative on any subject.
Why is SEO Important?
SEO is important because search engines are how most people find information on the Internet.
When you combine all the largest search engines, they account for over 70% of how all traffic on the Internet reaches a website.
Think of how you use search every day.
You either type or speak your question and then look at the results.
- How many times have you gone to a result that does not appear on the first page?
- How many times have you looked for local businesses which were not in the top 10 for your search?
People use search engines to find answers and solutions, and they trust search engines to provide quality results.
Getting your business in front of your users on a platform that they trust is why SEO is essential to growing your business.