12 May SEO Fully Explained in Simple TermsReading Time: 3 minutes
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the process of making improvements on and off your website in order to gain more exposure in search engine results.
More exposure in search engine results ultimately leads to more visitors finding you for the right reasons.
What is the goal of Search Engines and what improvements will affect search results?
The goal of the search engines are to
- find and understand all the content out there on the internet
- quickly deliver relevant and authoritative results based on any phrase the user might be searching for.
Example About SEO Relevance
When a user searches for something like California law firms, search engines want to show a list of results that are relevant to the topic of California law firms. Search engines will analyze all of the webpages they have ever visited, and pick out the pages that they believe are the most relevant to California law firms.
The factors that determine relevance:
- how your content is written and implemented into your website.
- how other websites around the internet are linking to you.
The search engine then uses complex algorithms to rank and display all of those webpages in order of relevance to that phrase that the user just typed in, California Law Firms.
This is very important to understand, because search engines make a very clear distinction between content that’s about California Law Firms versus content relevant for other phrases, like California law schools, or a phrase like Family Lawyer.
Search engines are able to understand quite a bit about semantic and thematic connections between words and concepts.
Take another example search query, bike tires. A search engine knows that pages selling bike tires are extremely relevant to that search query. But it also knows that websites about bike shops are very relevant, too. And it knows that a website promoting things like mountain bikes or bike helmets might also be relevant to the search query, but perhaps to a lesser extent.
The other factor that influences search engine exposure is authority.
On the world wide web, where anyone can post anything, ask yourself is your website a trusted place on the internet that the search engines would want to show to their users?
Search engines determine the authority of a webpage or a domain by evaluating what other websites link to you.
Tthis can be measured through links that are pointing to your website and this is important if you’re a local business or selling a product,.
Think of links as a vote on the internet, along with reviews and what people are saying about you online. A webpage linking to your website is almost like saying,
“Hey, I trust your content enough that I’m willing to reference your page and possibly even send my traffic to your site.”
It’s a vote of trust, and the search engines pick up on this as they scour the web, reading, evaluating, and storing all the data they can find on all the pages of the internet.
It’s important to note this is not just a popularity contest where you try to accumulate the most votes or links on the internet. Search engines have safeguards in place to prevent this kind of abuse, and instead place an emphasis on the quality and relevance of a link.
For example, a search engine is more likely to trust a link if it comes from a well-respected or industry-related site, like an industry-leading blog or a non-profit or a government agency involved in your field of work.
If you were the owner of that California Law Firm, you may have links from law review sites, local chambers of commerce, or things like local legal bureaus. All that is pretty relevant. A link coming from a one month old site that has nothing to do with you or your industry right above some text that says I’ll link to anything you want for $10 is not going to be valued nearly as much. In fact, that could get your site tossed from the results pages altogether.
From the search engine’s perspective, some links are more effective than others in casting their vote to your website and determining your site’s authority.
So you might think of this whole system as a weighted democracy, where some votes are worth more than others. Understanding how important both relevance and authority are to a search engine will help us to both understand and improve these factors, and will ultimately lead to better search engine exposure and more visitors to the pages of our websites.