What is SEO? I’ve been hearing the term SEO for years, yet I ignored it. I hated it to its core. Why? It just seemed too difficult to comprehend. Much like social media, it has an incredibly fickle nature. They are, however, fickle in far different ways. While social media garners you an audience right then and there, the website traffic from social media channels fades quickly. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), however, is ever changing in that the tools and techniques you must use keep changing. How was I ever going to catch a target that just wouldn’t stop moving?! To boot, it seemed way too complex to even begin. There are so many facets of SEO, I just didn’t know where on earth to start.
What is SEO, and How Can You Use It To Your Advantage – In Simple Terms
SEO, or search engine optimization, is using techniques and tools to optimize a website in order to rank better in search engine results. This garners much more consistent traffic than social media, thus is an important tool in building a popular website. Google being the main place people search, most SEO experts focus on Google’s ever-changing algorithm to get clues as to how to get their articles higher in the search engine rankings.
A Beginner Guide to SEO
Even knowing the answer to the question that has burned within you – what is SEO? – there are still many factors in search engine optimization. You aren’t going to learn them all overnight. Follow this guide slowly but surely, and learn all of the tools that you need to make your web pages show up in the top 10 search results for the search queries your prospective viewers are looking for.
What is On-Page SEO?
This term simply refers to the things you do directly on your post or website in general. Using WordPress and Yoast SEO can be extremely beneficial to get you pointed in the right direction. But you’ll need more than just those tools to figure it out. There are a ton of things you can do with your on-page SEO efforts in order to rank better in Google’s search results (as well as other search engines). Some important factors include your site speed, the actual structure of your website, and what type of content you are providing.
Did you know that your site’s speed can hugely affect how you rank in the search engines? I definitely didn’t until a friend told me one day. Pft, I thought. No way that’s a factor. Besides, even if it is, my site speed can’t be that bad. I checked in with Google PageSpeed Insights. Oh boy. I had a 12/100 on both mobile and desktop. That is not good. In fact, that’s absolutely horrendous. PageSpeed Insights will tell you exactly what’s slowing down your site, but much of it you really have to be a programmer to understand. Fret not, as you can research most of it. Still can’t comprehend what it’s telling you to do (sounds like the SEO meaning to me…)? There are a ton of plugins out there to help you optimize site speed.
Make sure before you start playing around with plugins to help speed up your site that you make a backup of your current site. I found that some tools that were supposed to speed me up actually slowed me down. In other cases, they straight up broke my site. Yeah, taking that backup first was a good call. I’d suggest some plugins, but quite honestly different ones work better for different themes. I wound up using a combination of different plugins to speed up my site’s performance.
It’s also important to note that what Google’s PageSpeed Insights has to say isn’t everything. Head on over to GTMetrix. Google cares less about a 0-100 score, and more about the actual load time on your site. Be sure to check it out for both your homepage and some actual posts. Many times there will be different things slowing you down on the homepage versus posts.
We’ve answered the question burning in your brains – what is SEO? Now it’s time to move on to one of the most important factors in defining SEO: keyword research. This is the act of finding keywords that you have the chance to rank well for in Google and other search engines. A gigantic part of the meaning of SEO is keyword research.
There are a ton of free and paid tools out there to perform your keyword research. My favourite is SEMrush, but there are many others. To put it simply, you want to find a keyword with a high search volume, and a low keyword difficulty. This simply means that many people are searching for the given term, and it’s less hard to rank for. Of course, your domain authority will play a big factor in how you compete with others in this field, but you can still rank with a low domain authority if you do things the right way.
Once you have found your keyword, make sure to place your keywords in all the correct places. This includes your title, heading 1, several times in the body of your article, in the alt text of images, and in meta descriptions and meta title tags.
Not so fast, though! You want to make sure that you create content that matches the keyword you’ve chosen. Otherwise, users are just going to click away from your site. Find a keyword that people would search for, and when landing on your page, would find the answer to their query. Understanding what is SEO is trickier than it seems. It’s all about improving search results and providing a great user experience. You have to keep all this in mind while making your site pop up in Google.
How does Google understand your site structure? It’s simple: through internal links. These show the Google bots how your site posts connect to one another, and are crucial in ranking well. And hey, they also help the users reading your content find related content you’ve written which may also benefit them.
I use Yoast SEO for all my meta titles and meta descriptions. This is what Google is actually going to post in its search results, rather than the title you’ve assigned the post. Besides, how does Google know what your article is about? No, they don’t have humans reading every article on the entire internet. Meta descriptions tell them what an article is about, and what it should say in search results. Make it good and relevant so that people will choose to click on your article.
What is Off-Page SEO?
Okay, I know, we started this with a simple question: what is SEO? Now we’re differentiating between on-page SEO and off-page SEO. I swear, it’s not as complex as it sounds. Off-page SEO is essentially everything you don’t directly do on your website or post. This is a lot harder to work on than on-page SEO, but still completely possible. The main part of off-page SEO is link building.
We’ve gone from what is SEO to what on earth is link building? Bear with me, once again it’s a pretty easy concept. Link building is getting other websites to link to you. Preferably, you want sites with a high domain authority to link to you. This passes you valuable link juice, which in turn helps your domain authority rise. Links from sites with high traffic are also incredibly useful, as more people are likely to click on your link.
So how to you get backlinks from other sites? For one, you can perform well using on-page SEO and rank high in organic search results. When people are looking for a site to link to for reference, they’ll find you naturally.
Another technique is doing guest posts for other blogs or websites. You’ll get a link to your site that way.
One thing I love partaking in is collaborative posts. This is when a blogger is making a post composed of snippets from many different bloggers. You write a certain amount of words, and you get a link to your website. The blogger who hosts the collaborative post gets easy content, and you get a link without having to write an entire post. It’s pretty ideal. I generally use Facebook groups to find these collaborative post requests.
Black Hat SEO versus White Hat SEO
By this time, Google and its rules should be getting a bit clearer (I hope). You should have a pretty good overview to the question what is SEO? To throw in one last concept, there are two types of SEO: black hat and white hat. White hat SEO refers everything discussed above. These are strategies to make you rank better in Google that are perfectly in line with Google’s rules. Google wants pages with relevant content to come up first for the search queries they relate to.
So what is black hat SEO? This is basically going against Google’s terms of service. For example, paying someone for a link on their site is black hat SEO. While paid search in itself is not black hat SEO, there are strategies one can use both in organic and paid search that are black hat.
Essentially, stick with white hat SEO or you risk getting penalized by Google. No one wants to go from showing up in the top 10 results to plummeting beyond the 100s because they made one simple mistake, like paying for links.
What is SEO?
In all, SEO is the combined techniques and strategies used to help you rank better in search engines, thus its name – search engine optimization. Understanding the SEO definition and SEO meaning in all ways will help you build upon your SEO skills. Of course, this article isn’t going to make you an SEO expert at the click of a button. It will, however, give you the valuable skills needed for you to build upon and increase your SEO abilities. So go forth, and rank in Google’s top 10! I know you can do it!