What is SEO? A Digital Dive into Search Engines
If you have been wondering what SEO is and, following some abstract and empty definitions found on search engines, you still find it a confusing concept, we invite you to join us in this digital journey:
- We will navigate the optimized waters of online marketing…
- We will warm up the search engines a bit…
- We will shed light on organic traffic and paid traffic…
- We will understand what On Page SEO is and what Off Page SEO is…
- We will find out what holistic SEO is…
- And we will finally find out what SEO means in 2020.
SEO – Online Marketing Relationship | A complex relationship
One of the most common mistakes when it comes to Marketing, be it the traditional kind or the digital one, is to equate it strictly with the idea of promotion. It is not entirely wrong, because promotion techniques must also be included in the overall Marketing strategy. In order for the latter, however, to be truly effective, different techniques and methods must be used, together with as many different channels as possible.
We cannot talk about online Marketing for a business, without considering the increase of its visibility in the online environment. Visibility should not just mean advertising – although it is most often understood in this way. Genuine online visibility means being present on search engines.
Our statement is not just a subjective opinion. Here’s why:
- In order to make a decision in the buying process, 89% of people search for the necessary information on search engines.
- 43% of consumers use to search for useful information on search engines, including when they are in the commercial facility concerned.
- 46% of Google searches are for local information. And 88% of these searches lead to a direct customer-company interaction (phoning or a visit). Find out more here »Online Marketing Guide for Local Business.
Beyond any other promotion strategies, the presence of a business on Google or on other search engines becomes vital for a stable and organic growth. We rectify: the presence on Google is important, but not anywhere, but on the first three positions! They “eat” about 65% of the traffic generated by a search! Thus, if a word is searched on Google by 1,000 people, 650 will access the sites in the first three positions, and the others will access the sites in all the other positions.
This is how we get to the classic definition: what is SEO and how do search engines work?
In order to understand what SEO is, we start by explaining the acronym. SEO comes from Search Engine Optimization. In Romanian, this concept translates as “optimizare pentru motoarele de căutare”. Thus, the entire activity of an SEO specialist is carried out in relation to the dynamism of search engines.
Did you know that… over 90% of the websites in Romania are NOT SEO optimized?
By far the most popular search engine is Google. But there are others as well, and we list a few: Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo or an interesting option – Ecosia.
SEO specialists most often refer to Google for one simple reason: since the end of 2002, without interruptions, it is the most popular search engine globally. In 2020, Google had a market share of 92.51%! In the Search Engine Optimization process, however, geographical features will be taken into account: in China, for example, internal search engines are used, such as Baidu (Google is forbidden), and in Russia the battle is between Yandex and Google. In our country, Google reaches a percentage of 97.93% of the market.
The “work” undertaken by Google to provide us (instantly) with the information we are looking for is not negligible. Globally, there are over 1.7 billion websites.
How can you get to the top positions on Google under these circumstances? With a well-developed SEO strategy that takes into account the search engine algorithms and complies with the indexing criteria set by Google. A well-optimized website will have priority in the quick (to say the least!) selection that Google makes when filtering information and displaying results for a user search.
In order to really understand what SEO is, it is useful therefore to understand how search engines work. They have so-called “crawlers” or “spiders” – programs that scan and collect information about all the content found on websites and then bring it to the search engine in order to make an index, to organize this information. Hence we have the concept of “indexing on Google” – aprocess based on an algorithm that takes into account over 200 factors. Any search on Google is almost instantly correlated with this information already collected, and the results provided will be ranked according to Google’s algorithm.
What is certain is that if you want real visibility in the online environment, your business website will have to take into account all the Google ranking criteria.
Hence the complexity of the Search EngineOptimization process. Online Marketing specialists in Romania have begun to understand, only recently, that the SEO process is extremely complex and dynamic. It’s not just about “a few backlinks”, randomly placed on sites with no value or authority in the field, or the meaningless repetition of keywords on your own website.
Search Engine Optimization encompasses all the measures, techniques and strategies implemented on and for a website in order to improve its position on search engines, for certain keywords – all according to the ranking criteria set by Google.
Implicitly, we are talking about more organic traffic on the website – especially if your business is in the top positions, which translates into leads and sales.
The importance of SEO in developing a business can no longer be neglected. Practically, every business has the best tool to attract its customers: its own website.
Why organic results, and not paid results?
Another answer to the Frequently Asked Question “What is SEO?” – avoiding the technical and functional explanations, can be formulated as follows: SEO means to bring a website in the top of organic results on Google, which implicitly translates into organic traffic on the website and a better conversion rate.
Did you know that… 64% of all Internet traffic is organic? Only 12% is direct traffic (when people access the site directly from the browser), while 6% is traffic from ads, 2% traffic from Social Media, and 15% of the traffic comes from other sources.
We are often asked why we would rather offer Search EngineOptimization services and do not focus on paid promotion methods (Google Ads, sponsored ads on social networks, etc.). We also offer such services, but the above statistics speak for themselves. Organic results (following Search EngineOptimization) are those that generate organic traffic to websites and generate a satisfactory long-term growth.
Moreover, SEO is the dream of all business people who do not like to “annoy” people with ads – sometimes unwanted. If you are correctly indexed on Google, you are present in the online environment exactly when a potential customer is looking for you and needs your services. You become the right business at the right time – as we like to say. ????
What is On Page SEO?
Let’s go into details. To understand what SEO is and what it entails as practical measures, we can discuss on-page (On Page SEO or measures taken on your own website) or off-page (Off PageSEO)optimization.
So what is On Page SEO?
This type of search engine optimization is carried out on all pages of the website. We usually start with On Page SEO for easy to understand reasons – being your own website, it is under your immediate control.
An effective SEO strategy will always include, as a first step, a complete analysis of the website – i.e. an SEO Audit. This analysis will be followed by a thorough Keyword Research. Often, these two steps are neglected, they are not given enough attention, and all the measures implemented later are not really anchored in the needs of website optimization, in the searches of potential users or in the ranking criteria on Google. The keyword strategy will also take into account the map of all URLs in a website and the links between them.
Only then can we take action, we can take every “angle” and “drawer” from the website to tidy up and clean (optimization). Here are just a few of the actions implemented in an On Page Search EngineOptimization process.
- Checking and removal of duplicate content;
- Checking penalties;
- Creating an efficient sitemap;
- Optimizing the loading speed of the website;
- Optimization of all monitored keywords;
- Optimization of all images;
- Optimization of alternative titles, subtitles, titles and labels, metadescriptions;
- Creating a strategy for website content
- Creating a strategy for developing blog posts.
- Creating internal links between website pages (internal linking).
Another important and often overlooked step in SEO is continuous monitoring. The factors that influence ranking on Google are subject to frequent changes. Website optimization is a continuous process, which must be adapted to the changes that have occurred, which must take into account the development of the content and operation of the website in a way that is satisfactory to users and in accordance with SEO rigors.
What is Off Page SEO?
Strategies specific to Off Page Search EngineOptimization, i.e. outside the website, aim to improve the position on search engines, developing a network of quality backlinks to the website and increasing, at the same time, visibility within the community of interest.
For a long time, Off Page SEO was partially misunderstood, this optimization process being equating with a large amount of backlinks to the website – a practice often carried out at the level of spam. Increasing the popularity of a website really involves as many and varied backlinks as possible by writing and publishing advertorials on other sites, by displaying banners with important links, in accordance with the SEO strategy, by establishing valuable partnerships.
The key word for the backlink network, however, is quality.
To better understand what Off Page SEO is, we can make a comparison with our daily lives. The popularity of an individual or a business can be determined by the recommendations of others. However, it is important that these recommendations come from people with authority in their field. Thus, when a specialist in archeology, officially recognized and appreciated, makes a recommendation in the field (a book, a movie or even a website), the power of this recommendation is worth more than five other opinions of unknown people who may have no connection to the field concerned.
Through Off Page Search Engine Optimization measures, we aim to prove to search engines that our website is reliable. The links received from other websites can be seen as recommendations, but they are relevant only insofar as the sites they come from are, in turn, of quality and have authority in the field.
Thus, it is important to understand what Off Page SEO is and what the relevant criteria for Googleare, in order to take action. What does an Off Page SEO strategy broadly entail? Here it is:
- Adapting the strategy in accordance with the SEO Audit and Keyword Research already performed;
- Creating SEO-relevant advertorials and articles;
- Writing press releases relevant to the community of interest;
- Distributing and publishing advertorials, SEO articles and press releases on sites valuable from an SEO point of view;
- Checking the SEO value of the sites we strategically include in the backlink network;
- Establishing brand partnerships;
- Continuous monitoring and adapting of the content created and published according to the evolution and results obtained from Search Engine Optimization.
The natural question will be, of course: where exactly should we publish the SEO content thus generated? These articles are published on niche blogs, on sites that frequently address topics in the field of activity specific to our website, in the local, national and international press, in various commercial publications, on forums and other types of online communities, etc.
If a few years ago, links on social networks were not taken into account in the process of ranking on Google, there was a radical change in this regard.
The importance of Social Media in the Off Page SEO strategy can no longer be neglected. Social media activity must be well anchored and also adapted to the general search engine optimization strategy. More information and best practices recommendations can be found in our article » “The Importance of Social Media in SEO”.
What is SEO in 2020? A holistic approach
In the field of SEO, things are in constant motion, evolving from one day to the next, from one yearto the next. Search engines are getting smarter, and the factors that influence indexing and ranking on Google are getting more and more complex. They also become more logical, closer to the user. Regardless of the changes, the goal has remained the same over the years: the results provided by Google must reflect the search needs of the user, and the prioritized content must provide the answers the user wants.
The filters have gottenincreasingly better. You can no longer “trick” the system, deceptive techniques such as Search EngineOptimization on frequently searched keywords (thus with the potential of bringing traffic), but which are not related to the actual field of activity of the website, are quickly detected, and the pages in question removed from search engines.
A very handy example that reflects these adaptations and changes in Google’s algorithm may even be the use of diacritical marks. Several years ago, all sites in Romania used to sacrifice these accents, which were characteristics with an important function in the Romanian language, in order to “satisfy” the search engine. Technology has evolved swiftly, however. Google now gives priority to information of local interest. And what can be more local than the language specific to a geographical region? Therefore, diacritical marks do not confuse the search engine, but are a positive factor that provide a better user experience.
Understanding what SEO is in 2020 means staying informed, being up to date with changes to search engines, understanding their relationship with the sites they index and rank, adjusting your SEO strategies in real time, and possibly, even making changes to the implementations already made.
It means, above all, being aware of people’s Internet browsing habits. Currently, although more than half of the traffic on the Internet is generated by mobile searches, sites are not optimized for mobile devices. About 77% of sites load in more than 10 seconds. A delay of one second when it comes to loading time on mobile devices translates into a decrease in conversions of up to 20%! About how fast a website should be in 2020, we have already written in this article.
Did you know that… 53% of users leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load? A delay of more than one second translates into financial losses of approx. 7%!
The digital ecosystem is a dynamic one. Users’ digital consumption habits are also undergoing changes, and currently the focus is on the interactions between various sources of information. In other words, people use multiple tools and resources to get the information they want, to check it, and to discover the quality they want.
Therefore, those who want not only to understand what SEO is, but also to implement an effective optimization process, must take into account these consumer behaviors. A holistic approach to the SEO optimization process is required.
What is holistic SEO? Everything discussed in this article, but with an additional three important mentions.
- All these strategies are implemented focusing on the user and their needs. In short, we will create user-relevant content in the first place, which also takes into account the rigors of SEO. Not the reverse. Indirectly, this follows exactly Google’s criteria and indexing algorithm.
- A holistic approach entails that all the Online Marketing services we approach aim at achieving the objectives set in the developed SEO strategy.
- A categorical rejection of any Black Hat SEO strategies (those that try to fool search engines, “shortcuts”, fake content, etc.).
We hope that all this information has helped you better understand what SEO is and what the importance of the optimization process is in developing a long-term business. As 90% of websites in Romania are not optimized, now is the ideal time to take this step!
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