In my line of work, I’m often asked, “What is this SEO thing I’ve been hearing a lot about, and why should I care about it?” These days, businesses already have to worry about website design and social media, so most business owners may not even be aware that search engine optimization (SEO) is a thing. If this sounds like you, then this guide might be of some help.
What is SEO?
Simply put, SEO is the process of optimizing your website in order to get organic or unpaid traffic from search engines like Google or Bing. It increases both the quality and the quantity of traffic to your site.
This means making changes to your website’s content and design that will make it rank highly on different search engine results pages. But why should you care about your website being the top result on Google? Why is generating organic traffic better than paying for ads?
The Internet’s Librarians
Imagine that you are one of the librarians for the most complete repository of knowledge and data that humanity has ever created. Imagine that millions of people come to you every day looking for information on a specific subject—for example, on Nietzsche or the Oscars or how to cook the perfect steak.
In order to help each person find the information they are looking for in a fast, efficient manner, you will need to know a bit about what each book in your library is about. You also need to arrange all the books according to some type of system—perhaps alphabetically, year of publication or by topic or keywords.
Search engines act like the internet’s librarians. They try to match the user’s search terms with the most relevant information in their database, and we need to understand how they do this in order to understand why SEO is so important.
How Search Engines Work
Search engines work in three steps. First, they send crawlers through all available content on the internet—webpages, images, audio, video and so on. Crawlers are bots that send snapshots of all accessible content back to the search engine’s servers.
Next, the information is organized into a searchable list. This huge list is called a search index and can serve as the basis for a raw keyword search. But good search engines like Google and Bing go one step further.
These search engines rank all the pieces of content relevant to a searcher’s query, using an algorithm to order the generated list from most relevant to least relevant. These algorithms are always changing, with Google, in particular, making constant adjustments.
Search engines that consistently deliver relevant results gain repeat users. These loyal users learn to depend on that search engine above all others. Recent data shows that Google and Bing make up almost 85% of all internet searches. This indicates a high level of user trust in these search engines. – Read more