You may have heard the term SEO thrown around a lot when people are doing anything online. But, so precisely, what is SEO? How does it work? What types of SEO are there? And how can you use SEO to reach your business goals? This article will provide a detailed insight into the world of SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. As the name suggests, SEO is the process of improving your website’s ability to be discovered more when people search for a product, service, or event information online. If your webpage has better visibility on search engine results like those for popular search engines like Google or Bing, it is more likely that you will get more visitors for your website. And who doesn’t want more visitors to their website?
But before we go into search engine optimization and appreciate its importance, it is helpful to understand how search engines actually work.
How do Search Engines work?
Search engines like Google and Bing using something called web crawlers. These are also sometimes referred to as search engine bots or spiders. Search engines use these crawlers to navigate the internet and start collecting information on different web pages.
These search engine bots go to each website and collect data about that website. Web crawlers collect information like
- Keywords: To understand what the website and its different web pages are all about.
- Type of content: To better understand what topics each particular web page covers.
- Freshness: how recent the content on the web page is.
- User engagement: how previous users interacted with the page
- Incoming and Outgoing: What kind of links are outgoing from the webpage and what links posted on other websites point to this particular page.
This and much more information or metadata is collected and stored on something called the Index. Think of the Index as a massive guidebook for search engines. When a user types in search terms, the search engine starts matching the search term with information in its Index. And then sorts the web pages by relevance to that particular user.
This also means that search results for me on google don’t necessarily have to be the same when someone else makes the search request from their google accounts.
Web crawlers and Indexing serves an essential function in making it easier for the search engine to find what a particular user is looking for on the internet.
Why is there a need for SEO?
So why is there a need for Search Engine Optimization? Search engines seem like they know what they are doing, right? Well, that is partially correct; yes, search engines have a very complex algorithm to locate the page results. But sometimes, the best solutions or the best answers from your webpage are shadowed by thousands of other web pages. This is where an SEO specialist would step in. The purpose of search engine optimization is to make your webpage stand out for a variety of different search results.
By following search engine optimization techniques and methods, you make it easier for the search engine to identify your webpage as not only relevant by a credible source. Consequently, it will rank you higher in search engine page results or SERP for short. And we all know that people are more likely to click the web pages on the first page of Google results than on the 10th page. Having a keyword on page one for free is much more friendly to your marketing budget rather than paying it out per click.
SEO allows your business to show search engines that it is deserving of first place on its results page for a particular query. We do this by using what we know about search engine behavior, its specific rules, and how it ranks web pages and then modeling our own web pages to the best version of what the search engine thinks is the perfect web page.
If you follow good SEO practices, nothing is stopping a search engine from placing you on its first result page. This is because these SEO techniques and best practices take into consideration a lot of factors, like what people are looking for, how they are looking for it, where they live, what have they searched for previously, and thousands of other metrics.
How Does SEO Work?
So how does optimizing your Search engine results actually work? Well, optimizing your webpage to be notified and ranked higher by the search engine involves fine-tuning a lot of things. From targeting specific keywords to putting an outgoing link to other web pages. The best way to look at this is from a pretty interesting philosophical lens.
Mozlow’s hierarchy of SEO needs
Ran Fishkin, an industry expert came up with a pyramid structure to approach SEO called ‘Mozlow’s Hierarchy of SEO needs’. This is a play on a genuine theory of psychology known as the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This ranks the fundamental human needs based on human priorities, starting from the base of the pyramid with the most basic human needs like food and water, up all the way to lesser important things like love and companionship. Someone who is starving and thirsty won’t be looking to find the meaning of life, he will be looking for food first.
Figure 1 Mozlow’s hierarchy of SEO needs 
Similar to the phycology version, the SEO version also ranks SEO practices from base to the top based on what needs to be done first. See most SEO guides just start bombarding people with so much information that they don’t understand where to start and what to do. But by looking at a more structured approach you can understand the foundations of good SEO practice and what practices help with better ranking.
This way there is a flow of what to do first and what to do later, just like in real life you first look for water and food before you look for shelter, in the SEO world you first increase your crawl accessibility before you work on user experience.
Types of SEO
Search engine optimization can be categorized into three broad types. These are
- On-Page SEO: This is the optimization you do on your own webpage, like following a good keyword strategy, having links go out to other websites and even other webpages on your own, etc.
- Off-Page SEO: This is optimization that you do off-site. Off-page, SEO is done on websites other than your own. For example, backlinks from other web pages to your own make the search engine think your web page is so legitimate that other websites are directing traffic to you.
- Technical SEO: This is the backend development of the website to make it more welcoming for search engine crawl bots to index your web pages. The easier you make it for the web crawlers to find relevant information and index your website, the higher you will rise in search rankings.
Why is SEO important for your business?
So, you might be asking now why go through all the trouble? Why is SEO important for my business? Well, people could write, in fact, people have written books on the subject. But if I were to condense it all, these would be the main reasons why SEO is important for your business.
- Organic Growth: Organic search and growth are some of the most important parts of any business’s online presence. You want more and more people to visit your website. Good SEO ensures that you get an organic audience without the need to spend money on advertisements.
- SEO increases buying cycle: It has been shown time and time again that websites use good SEO practices can get their messaging across to more customers promptly. Let’s say you are in the luxury clothing business; you want the most amount of your potential customers to know that you are having a sale or a discount. By using good SEO practices, you can make sure you rise above the competition.
- SEO builds credibility: A website that a strong SEO structure and follows up-to-date SEO practices is considered more trustworthy and credible. Not only by the search engine ranking your website. But also, by the customers when they see your page in the top result of their search request.
- SEO is cost-effective: The best part about SEO is that it is relatively cheap to implement. In fact, in some cases, it can be free for some websites. This is because there is no upfront marketing or advertising costs.
- SEO is long-term beneficial: The best part is that good SEO can give your website long-term benefits. Once a good search engine optimization strategy is implemented, it can keep bringing in new people to your website for days to come. You would be surprised how even a few month-olds web pages with good SEO perform.
- SEO is here to stay: The best part about SEO is that it is here to stay. So even you are looking to either invest time and/or money to get search engine optimization expertise, it won’t be in vain. As long we have the internet and search engines, search engine optimization will exist in some form or the other. And the basic foundation of search engine optimization always remains the same.
Search engine optimization is a must for any website if it plans to actually receive a customer or an audience. Without a competent SEO strategy, there is no reason for the search engine to rank your website.
If you are interested in building your organic search traffic and maintaining the health of your websiteplease reach out to us at NLSoftworks.
”Mozlow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” [Online]. Available: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo