Search Engine Optimization a.k.a SEO [Part 2]
by Goran Kovačić, May 12, 2020
In our first blog post on this topic, we discussed what is SEO and how search engines work. Now let's talk about the types of search results and how SEO works.
Mainly, SEO is used to optimize your website for the search engine you want to rank for, whether that's Google, Bing, Youtube, etc. Your job is to make sure that a search engine sees your site as the overall best result for a person's search query.
The best result is determined by relevancy, authority, usefulness, and more. I would list all ranking criteria, but Google has over 200 ranking factors. (Yikes!)
Search engine result pages are separated into two sections: paid results and organic results.
Paid search results appear above or underneath organic search results. These ads are ranked by how much the advertisers are willing to pay for a single visitor, also called pay-per-view advertising. In short, you get what you pay for.
This is where the fun begins! Ranking high in organic results is what SEO is all about. Organic results (or natural results) are results that are ranked based on valid search engine optimization (SEO) efforts rather than search engine marketing (SEM) or some other sorcery.
Google guarantees organic results to be the most relative, trustworthy, and authoritative websites on the subject.
The value of SEO
Search is a large source of traffic. Most of the traffic is referred from Google, followed by Facebook, Youtube, etc. Nearly 60% of all traffic on the web starts with a Google search. If we add traffic referred from other search engines, it adds up to about 70%. That's a large number!
And now here's a quick example of the value of SEO.
Let's say we have 100.000 people searching for a certain keyword each month. 20% of those will click on the first search result they see. That equals 20.000 people. Now imagine that every visit is worth $1. Did you do the math?
20k per month! That's how much the first place in the search rankings would be worth in case a click is worth $1! Now imagine a click's worth is more than $1 (some advertisers pay double digits for their paid ads). That is the value of good SEO.
Now that we know all the basics of SEO, let's talk about how SEO works in more detail.
How does SEO work?
Search engines have spiders (not the creepy crawly ones, silly). These so-called spiders (automated robot kind) collect all types of information from a website and its pages. By doing this, they can easily determine when to serve a searcher a page from a relevant site. They collect information like page speed, internal linkings, backlinks, etc. This discovery process is called crawling.
As I've mentioned before, Google has over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm so there are a lot of things to consider, and actions that can be taken to try to optimize a website. Those factors are split into two categories: on-page factors and off-page factors.
On-page factors are elements that are actually on the page, exactly what they sound like. Those include title tags, content, page speed, URLs, image alt tags, internal linking, and more.
Off-page factors are a different breed. They are almost entirely based on links to your site from other sites.
It is important to note that these spider bots are automated computer programs and not actual humans like me and you. They can not see all the flashy images and videos that we humans can. They crawl the code of the website and feed on the information that is given to them. Feed them generously and you can expect great results. After all, you reap what you sow.
Knowing how search engines work and which attributes they look for is half of the battle when creating content that ranks. Of course, search engine algorithms change all the time and there’s no guarantee that what’s important today will still be important next year.
But no worries. Attributes like authority, relevancy, and usefulness have been critical factors for many years and will be for years to come. Tailor your content to these guidelines and your website will surely rank high in search engines. Or you can always pay ads. But we all know that isn't really a long-term plan.
Now you know how SEO works. Go and make it work for you!