What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of continuously improving the website through different techniques in order to boost web presence on the search engine results page (SERP) organically. In general, the higher a website naturally ranks on the search results page, the higher chance it will be visited by users. If done right, SEO should be able to drive quality traffic to websites.
The Search Process
- Step 0: The search engine crawls, index and ranks websites in its own database
- Step 1: The user types in a search query in the search page
- Step 2: The search engine searches its database for the most relevant web pages
- Step 3: The search engine returns with a list of web pages that answers the query
Different search engines use different algorithms to rank websites. Google’s algorithm, for example, takes into account 200+ factors and signals to decide a website’s position in the SERP. Search engines do not disclose their algorithms – their secret formula of ranking websites – to avoid people from over-optimizing their websites just to fulfill search engine requirements, rather than providing the information users are looking for.
What is SERP?
Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is a list of results that a search engine returns after processing your search query. Every SERP is unique. As search engines customize the user experience, even for the exact same search query on the same search engine, the results that you and I see are different. The results displayed are based on multiple factors, including browsing history, cookies, location, device and more.
On major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, typically, there are 2 types of results – organic and paid. Organic results are a list of web pages displayed based on search engine’s algorithm. Paid results, on the other hand, are advertisements that are paid to be shown on the SERP. Let’s see an example of Google’s search engine results page:
According to Business2Community, 60% of all organic clicks go to the top 3 organic search results. Research has also shown that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of the search results. And this is exactly why you need to start doing SEO.
2 Types of SEO
Search Engine Optimization can be categorized into White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO.
#1 White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO is the use of legit optimization strategies and techniques that is in line with search engine policies to achieve ranking improvement. White Hat SEO strategies include keyword research and optimization, content optimization and link building. If you are looking to build your business for long-term in a sustainable manner, you should only look at White Hat SEO.
#2 Black Hat SEO
Repeat after me: I will never use Black Hat SEO. Black Hat SEO is the use of aggressive SEO strategies and techniques that focuses on search engines, not human users. As its name suggests, it is the opposite of White Hat SEO. Black Hat strategies include keyword stuffing, invisible text, cloaking and spam link building. As search engines continue to update their algorithms, it is very difficult to engage in Black Hat SEO and not get found. If you are caught, worst case scenario, your website will be taken down from all search results. Ask yourself: is it worth putting everything at risk just for short-term results?
|White Hat SEO||Black Hat SEO|
|Definition||The use of legit optimization strategies in line with search engine policies||The use of aggressive SEO strategies that focuses on search engines|
|Target||Human users and search engines||Search engines only|
|Techniques||Keyword targeting, content optimization, link acquisition||Link spam, keyword stuffing, cloaking, hidden text, hidden links|
|Expected Timeline||Long-term||Quick but unpredictable|
|Result||Sustainable growth in rankings and traffic||Quick but short-lasting growth in rankings; website may receive a lifetime-ban from search engines|
Think of your audience, not search engines
As your know more about SEO, it is very tempting to tailor your website accordingly to different ranking factors. However, if you are looking for a sustainable growth in organic traffic (and potentially conversions), you need to optimize the website for your target users. In the end of the day, your end users are human audience, not search engines. (Again, another reason not to use Black Hat SEO!)
Articles on SEO ranking factors and onsite implementation coming soon – stay tuned!
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