What is search engine optimization (SEO)? SEO explained
Websites strive to increase their traffic and one of the best ways of doing this is through improving search engine presence.
So, how do websites go about doing this? By optimizing their site.
The practice of developing a search engine friendly site, or tweaking a site to improve its rank in search engines, is known as search engine optimization (SEO).
Put simply, search engines, such as Google or Bing, want to ensure that their visitors are able to find exactly what they are looking for when they look stuff up.
Therefore, they are continuously crawling the web to evaluate website content to determine the relevance of a page to a certain topic/theme – or group of keywords.
The key to improving a site’s ranking is by having “quality” and “rich” content and well written HTML that a search engine can “crawl” without errors. However, there are also external factors that are indirectly controlled by the publisher (such as links from other websites) that can have an impact on a site’s ranking.
This Market Business News information article includes detailed information on the specific factors (on-page and off-page) that affect a site’s SEO, in addition to mentioning the two main SEO strategies.
There are on-page factors and off-page factors that influence a site’s ranking, according to “The Periodic Table of SEO Success”.
Publishers have direct control over some of these factors (the ones “on-page”) while other factors (the ones “off-page”) are influenced by visitors and other publishers.
On-page SEO factors:
Content – the quality of the written content of a site, whether the content makes good use of keywords. Read more about SEO friendly content.
HTML – proper use of the <title> tags, ensuring a page has a relevant <meta> description, including headings and subheadings (<h2> tags) with keywords. Read more about SEO friendly HTML.
Architecture – how quickly the site loads, whether the site works well on mobile and tablet devices.
Off-page SEO factors:
Links – hyperlinks from high quality and established sites.
Trust – how long the site has been live (domain age) and the authority of the site.
Social – people sharing website content on social network sites (such as Google+ and Facebook).
There are a number of methods to improve a site’s SEO.
The most approved method – considered to be “legit” and “good practice” – is called White Hat SEO.
However, there is another, disapproved method ( looked downed upon), known as Black Hat SEO.
White Hat SEO strategy
White Hat SEO strategies use tactics and techniques that follow search engine rules. The focus is more on providing a site catered for humans and not for search engines – for this reason it is sometimes known as ethical SEO.
Examples of White Hat tactics include:
- Keyword analysis
- Link building
- Using keywords
Black Hat SEO strategy
A Black Hat SEO strategy focuses on using aggressive techniques that focus on search engines as opposed to humans.
This strategy does not follow search engine rules and includes techniques such as keyword stuffing and using invisible text – this does not enhance the human experience but is only an attempt to abuse the way search engines rank websites.
However, this technique does not come without consequences. A site can be banned from a search engine if they catch wind that its using Black Hat SEO techniques.
Do not confuse the term with ‘optimization.’ Optimization refers to making something the best it can possibly be.