What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the amount of quality traffic to a website through organic search results.
If you’re not much wiser from this definition, read on where we explain what SEO is in more detail, because when it comes to your blog (or any other website that aims to make money), SEO is probably one of the main sources of traffic.
What is part of SEO?
In order to understand the true meaning of SEO, let’s break down this definition and look at each part of the above definition in turn:
- Quality of traffic: we can tell that traffic is quality by the fact that the visitor comes and gets what they expected and what they were looking for. If a reader comes to your mobile site looking for instructions on how to grow strawberries, that’s not quality traffic, and that person will just leave. A quality visitor will be happy to read an article, click through the site, and maybe also buy something or use one of your links if they are looking for another service.
- Amount of traffic: so we get readers or potential customers coming to the site who find what they were looking for. The amount of traffic then tells you how many of these people there are (and the more the better).
- Organic search results: if we use search engines, typically Google or List, but there are many, we get to the search results (the abbreviation SERP, Search Engine Results Page, is used). Some of these results are paid (i.e. the site owners have paid to appear in these positions, basically regardless of the quality of the site), others are organic, where the algorithms of the search engine decide their placement and ranking. Simply put, then, it can be said that search engines try to find the sites that are most closely related to the search phrase and rank them according to quality (there are hundreds of factors that affect ranking). Organic traffic is then that which comes from the non-paid portion of the search results.
How SEO works
You can think of a search engine as a website that you visit, type a question into the box, and Google, Bing, YouTube, or any other search engine will respond almost immediately with a list of links to websites (or links to content on just one page, which is an example like YouTube) that could potentially answer your question or solve your problem.
But how are such lists created? After all, Google can’t crawl the entire internet in half a second.
And it won’t. It has already crawled the web and extracted information from the site. Here’s how it works: Google (or any other search engine) uses a computer program called a crawler. It crawls every known web page it finds on the web, gathers information about the content, analyzes it, and feeds it back to the search engine. The crawler works constantly, and visits sites repeatedly to see if articles have been updated, deleted or moved, which is then reflected in the search results.
The search engine uses this information to create a ranking, which we call an index. This index is used to ensure that pages are placed in the correct categories and that the search engine does not offer meaningless results where possible, but instead offers relevant content to the reader. It then uses this index to compile the search results to best reflect the search query.
This explains (at least very roughly) the SE (Search Engine) part of SEO. But what about the O, Optimization? This is where we come in, to give search engines, but more importantly potential visitors, what they are looking for. We have to do it in such a way that search engines and their crawlers understand the structure of our website and articles, so that they can easily reach all the pages we want, so that they appear in search results, so that our content is of high quality, readable, and so that readers, for example, place a link to an article from our website on their own websites or share it via social networks.
Optimization is really a very broad topic that cannot be written in a single article. It is a never-ending process of tweaking, improving, tuning, content creation and hundreds of small or bigger things that need to be done to bring quality traffic to our website thanks to search engines.
SEO is not a one-time thing, it is a long-term process
Sometimes you may read in the bids or inquiries something about “SEO setup”. SEO is not about clicking somewhere once and being done. If someone tells you otherwise, they don’t know what they’re talking about or they’re lying. Optimizing a site has some basic steps, of course, which apply in principle to all sites, but it is definitely not one complete process, as much as a series of preferably repeatable and logical processes, but which may change over time, and which, moreover, cannot be clearly applied in every situation and to every site.
I don’t see SEO as a series of tasks that when I complete, I’m done, but rather as a never-ending process of improving the site in terms of technical, design and content, but it’s also about continuing to learn and improve my knowledge, as well as thinking about what (doesn’t) make sense for the site or industry I’m involved in.
SEO is very dynamic, and what worked 10 years ago is now a forbidden technique from a search engine point of view (at best just completely dysfunctional). What worked 5 years ago is now obsolete, and who knows what will be around in another 10 years. If you’re interested in improving and taking care of your own site from an SEO perspective (which I definitely recommend!), prepare yourself for the fact that this is a lifelong learning experience, not a weekend course.
What about SEO can you find on this site?
I’ll cover SEO mainly from a perspective that doesn’t require programming skills (I’m not a programmer myself), but so that we can set up or arrange everything ourselves if possible.
Of course, there is always the option of paying an agency or SEO experts to take a look at the site and advise on what is missing, what is missing, what needs to be set up, etc… But the problem is that if you are just starting out with a blog, this service can be quite expensive, and not every SEO expert is really an expert in the field. So I’ve always found it better to know as much as possible about SEO, to do as many things as possible myself (or at least provide the right instructions). I don’t know everything about SEO (no one really does), but the absolute vast majority of traffic to my sites comes from organic search. So I’m doing something right (or at least not doing everything wrong), so I’m even allowing myself to write about SEO stuff.
I’m not a fan of using a million paid SEO tools, but instead I try to go the route of simplicity and use the resources that are free. If your blog grows, paid tools are definitely another very good step to take the site even further, but most of my tutorials won’t rely on paid tools.
SEO is also a series of technical things, from properly deploying meta tags to tuning your titles or meta description, to speeding up site loading, to properly deploying styles and scripts, and on and on. We’ll talk about all of this in the individual articles, which you’ll find in the individual sections that you can easily click into from the menu, depending on what you’re interested in.