Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most commonly used and heavily researched forms of internet marketing of the current age, and while you may have heard the phrase thrown around, it is understandable if you find yourself wondering what SEO actually is. This article is intended to explain SEO as directly as possible. So, buckle in and get ready to learn.

A Basic Overview

In simple terms, SEO is the practice of optimizing content online to most accurately and effectively appeal to the algorithms of a search engine. This is so that when a person does a relevant search, your website is one of the first organic results to show up. This is important because, on average, only 0.78% of google searchers will click on the second-page option. Meaning if your website doesn’t turn up on the first SERP (search engine results page), then, statistically speaking, it isn’t going to be clicked on. Fundamentally, that is the goal of SEO, to get your website clicked on. Because SEO is often complicated and takes a large amount of time, businesses such as exist to offer SEO services to other companies.

Organic vs. Paid Search Results

One of the first things to understand is that SEO deals primarily with organic search results. These are simply the search results that appear for a searched word or phrase naturally rather than as a paid result. This is not to say there is no place for SEO practices in the realm of paid search results; it simply takes up a smaller portion of SEO practices and requires a different approach.

Understanding Keywords

Keywords are arguably the most important aspect of SEO and are relatively easy to understand conceptually. Simply speaking, keywords refer to the words or phrases that searchers type into search engines to find websites. There are, as you might imagine, an enormous number of potential keywords for every conceivable industry. The purpose of SEO here is to rank for as many keywords that are likely to be relevant to your website as possible. Ranking for a keyword means appearing as high up on the first page of organic search results as possible, and there are a number of tricks that SEO marketers can use to do this. For example, almost 70% of searches contain four or more words, and, more often than not, searchers tend to be overly specific. These very specific searches are called long-tail keywords, and they can be incredibly useful to SEO as they tend to have very low traffic. That might sound like a negative thing, but low traffic means low competition, and if you manage to rank for a hundred long-tail keywords that only get ten searches a month, suddenly you’re ranking for a thousand searches a month. On top of that, people searching for long-tail keywords are normally looking for something very specific, and if you’re ranking for that term, chances are you have what they’re looking for. Essentially, long-tail keywords have a high conversion rate, which means more of these searches will actually convert to customers for what you are selling.

Getting to Know Links

Now that you understand the importance of ranking for keywords, you are doubtless wondering what the process involves. It’s simple, really; you want to make sure you include the keyword that you are trying to rank for as much as you can, naturally and properly within your website, or more likely on a single page on your domain. This is just the start because while the search engine will be able to tell that your website is well suited to answer queries linked to your keyword, it still does not know whether it can trust your website.

To teach the search engine that your website or domain is trustworthy, you need to gain link authority, and the only way to do that is to have another website link back to your own. This will not work, though, with just any website or just any link. The search engine is an intelligent thing, and it can gauge the quality of the links referencing your website. So, to truly gain good link authority, you have to place your links in well-written, relevant, and useful articles, which are themselves posted on trusted websites.

This is the core of SEO and is a time-consuming and involved process. The services most SEO companies will provide will heavily include this kind of SEO improvement.