Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of enhancing a website’s visibility in search engine results by adjusting its structure, content, and external links to better respond to specific user queries.
By highlighting content that satisfies user search needs, SEO efforts that benefit both the user experience and the page’s ranking are encouraged. Titles, meta descriptions, and H1s should all make use of targeted keywords, while URLs should be descriptive rather than a string of numbers, and schema markup should be used to define the purpose of each page’s content.
Internet users rely on search engines like Google to quickly locate information relevant to their needs. Search engines have become the go-to place for people seeking any kind of information, be it shopping, eating, or travelling related. Owners of businesses present a great opportunity to drive qualified visitors to your site.
Improve your website’s visibility in search engine results (SERPs) and clickthrough rates with the help of search engine optimization (SEO). One common goal is to achieve first-page Google rankings for keywords that are especially important to your intended audience. In this way, search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t just about the technical aspects of configuring a website, but also about knowing and catering to the wants and needs of your target audience.
These are the fundamentals.
How do search engines work?
Google, Bing, and the other search engines will return results for any question a user might have. One way they accomplish this is by “understanding” the web by surveying its vast network of websites. A complex algorithm is used to decide which results to return in response to a given search.
Why SEO focuses on Google
Many people automatically think of Google when they hear the term “search engine,” as the company controls roughly 92% of the global market. Since Google is the most popular search engine, optimising a website for Google’s search results is the norm. It’s helpful to have a firm grasp on Google’s inner workings and rationale.
What Google wants
Google’s goal was to create a product that would provide the best possible search results for its customers. That’s why it’s so important to get good results to people as quickly as possible.
Essentially, a search consists of two parts: the user’s query (the “search term”) and the returned results (the output).
So, let’s say you’re looking for MailChimp tutorials and guides. This is a straightforward investigation. Google gets it, and it gives you a relevant result: Mailchimp’s page with that title.
Because the user is likely to select the first result and be satisfied with the outcome, Google sees this as a good search result and a positive user experience.
How Google makes money
Google makes money when people use and appreciate its search engine. It succeeds in this by providing relevant search results.
Advertising space at the top of Google search results pages can be purchased by businesses. In this context, “Ad” stands for advertisement. Pay-per-click (PPC) ads purchased through Google AdWords generate revenue for Google when users click on them. These ads will appear in response to broad, broad-ranging searches.
Besides the tiny label, it would be nearly impossible to tell these results apart from any others. This is done on purpose, of course, because many people click on these links without realising they are advertisements.
Google is counting on it. The $182.5 billion in 2020 revenue that Google achieved was driven primarily by advertising. Even though search is still the company’s primary offering, it must rely on revenue from advertisements to stay afloat.
The anatomy of search results
Both paid and “organic” results appear in SERPs, with the latter not contributing to Google’s bottom line. Google, on the other hand, gives you results that it thinks are relevant and high-quality based on how you’ve used the search engine in the past. Google also customises the SERP to include things like maps, images, and videos based on the search query.
A search engine’s advertising load is dynamic and responds to user queries. If you typed the word “shoes” into a search engine, for instance, many of the top results would be advertisements. To see the first organic result, you’ll likely have to scroll down the page.
There is a good chance that the searcher is looking to buy shoes online, and as a result, many shoe companies are willing to pay to have their ads appear in the AdWords results for this query.
However, if you change your search terms to something like “Atlanta Falcons,” you’ll get a different set of results. The most relevant outcomes are associated with the professional American football team of the same name because of the significance of this search term. However, the question is still unclear. You can access their homepage, a knowledge graph, and news articles. These three types of results show that Google is unsure of your exact query, but still wants to help you quickly find what you’re looking for by providing links to overviews, news articles, and the team’s official website.
There are no AdWords results because no advertisers have shown interest in bidding on the keyword because there appears to be no purchase intent behind the query.
If you then modify your search to include the words “Atlanta Falcons hat,” Google interprets this as a shopping-related query and adjusts its results to include more sponsored links.
The role of SEO
Search engine optimization’s end game is a higher position in organic search results. AdWords, retail, and regional optimization each require their own unique strategies.
SEO can still be very effective and profitable, even if the organic listings get pushed down SERPs due to the presence of so many competing elements.
Given that Google handles billions of searches per day, the percentage of clicks that come from organic searches is enormous. While there is an initial and ongoing cost associated with achieving and maintaining high organic search engine rankings, all of the traffic generated by those clicks is free.
Patrick Hathaway wrote them for MailChimp. As a co-creator of the SEO auditing platform Sitebulb, Patrick is an industry leader in the field of technical SEO.