What is SEO? A small introduction

S.E.O. stands for search engine optimization. Its a process you will need to follow in order to increase the chances your website appears higher in the search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo e.t.c. when users search for relevant terms to your website’s content.

Its not as easy at it “sounds” though, mainly due to competition and then technical aspect of maintaining a website. We’ll make it simple enough though.

Let’ say a user goes into Google and searches for “t-shirts”. The way search engines work these days is that the engine :

  • Takes the search term and looks into their database for websites that are relevant to what the user searched for
  • They consider more factors for each of the matching page i.e. if the website is mobile-friendly, is the user experience is good, if the content is enough and more factors that we will analyze later.
  • The engine ranks the matching websites along with the peripheral factors in a descending “quality” and “relevance” order. What comes first, should be the more relevant and more interesting to that user in particular.

Of course this is a very simplified version of the actual process. More and more factors are added in real-life as search engines try to bring the most relevant results to the users, at the same time having to analyze more and more websites that are published on the web every day.

One more thing to keep in mind before we dig more into S.E.O. is that there is not only one website for a topic on the web. For almost whatever you search on Google, Bing, Yahoo and others, there are hundreds of thousands of websites that relate to that search term. The more relevant websites, the more the competition for your website. If you want your website to enter high-competition search results, your S.E.O. will be more difficult and will have to be performed in more extend than in lower-competition searches. High and low competition searches are usually easy to distinguish. A search for “t-shirts” is probably of a much higher competition than a search for “prothetic legs”.

Our website as an entity

When we are talking about a website, there are a few things to distinguish. Our website has a url ( the web address which contains the domain name ), it has multiple pages ( or otherwise called web pages ), it is hosted on a web server, its either static or dynamic and more. We are interested into this sentence :

Our website contains many web pages, each of which as a title, an address called the URL, the body text and some meta data.

One of the website’s pages is the homepage, another can be the contact page, another our company profile, the category page in our store, the details page of a product, a single post on our blog. Our website actually may have tens of pages we may not even know about. We’ll get back to this later.

We will need to perform SEO on each of the pages of our website that we want it to have more chances on appearing on the search engine results page. We may not want to do this for all pages on our website but only on those we really want to optimized so they appear on the search results of engines. For instance, our contact page is not that important as our services page, we would look to perform SEO on the services page initially/only/more actively than our contact page.

Our first step in the SEO process is to make a list of the pages we would like to have appearing on the search results page when users search for relevant terms.

Next, we will need to talk about the two threads of the SEO process, the on-site and off-site optimizations which we need to perform.

The two steps of SEO

Search engine optimization contains two things we need to do, a set of actions that we need to do on the website and another set of actions to perform outside our website. To correctly perform the full optimization of our pages, we will need to do both steps. On-site SEO can be a one-off or less frequent update, whereas off-site SEO can be thought of as a never-ending process that we need to follow repeatedly, not frequently necessarily but repeatedly for sure.

What is On-Site SEO?

On-Site SEO is the group of actions we need to perform on our website. Its mainly about content, structure, organization, user experience, terms density and relevancy. There are of course technical aspects of on-site SEO which we will not list here as this is a more entry-level guide. Such technical terms ( for further reading ) are : the code to text ratio, website’s speed, exposure of meta data to the engines, directive for the language of our content and more.

Think of on-site SEO as the factor of quality, relevancy and user experience of our website.

What is Off-site SEO?

Off-site SEO is the set of actions we need to perform outside our website for our website. How is that possible? It is because off-site SEO is ( in very short terms ) about linking our website to other websites. There is much strategy and caution to be considered here but in simple words, the more in numbers and the more in quality websites link to our website and website’s pages, plus the more relevant those websites are, the better for search engines. A simple example here is that if we have a t-shirt store and we can have our suppliers’ websites linking to our website, it will be good for us. But if we do this wrong, or overdo it, then we will lose much, instead of gaining from the off-site process.

Think of off-site SEO as the “word of mouth” on the web about our website, the more “important” people propose us, the better for us and the ones that ask.

More on SEO coming in our upcoming articles.

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