Search-Engine Optimization (SEO)
What is Search-Engine Optimization (SEO) ?
The process of using website analysis and copy/design/structural adjustments to ensure both the highest possible positioning on desired search-engine results pages and the best experience for a given site’s users.
Research shows that websites on the first page of Google receive almost 95% of clicks, and studies show that results that appear higher up the page receive an increased click through rate (CTR), and more traffic.
There are also various other listings that can appear in the Google search results, such as map listings, videos, the knowledge graph and more. SEO can include improving visibility in these result sets as well.
How Does SEO Work?
Google (and Bing, which also power Yahoo search results) score their search results largely based upon relevancy and authority of pages it has crawled and included in its web index, to a user’s query to provide the best answer.
Google uses over 200 signals in scoring their search results and SEO encompasses technical and creative activities to influence and improve some of those known signals. It’s often useful to not focus too much on individual ranking signals and look at the wider goal of Google, to provide the best answers for its users.
SEO, therefore, involves making sure a website is accessible, technically sound, uses words that people type into the search engines, and provides an excellent user experience, with useful and high quality, expert content that helps answers the user’s query.
Google has a very large team of search quality raters that evaluate the quality of search results, that gets fed into a machine learning algorithm. Google’s search quality rater guidelines provide plenty of detail and examples of what Google class as high or low quality content and websites, and their emphasis on wanting to reward sites that clearly show their expertise, authority and trust (EAT).
Google uses a hyperlink-based algorithm (known as ‘Page Rank’) to calculate the popularity and authority of a page, and while Google is far more sophisticated today, this is still a fundamental signal in ranking. SEO can therefore also include activity to help improve the number and quality of ‘inbound links to a website, from other websites. This activity has historically been known as ‘link building’ but is just marketing a brand with an emphasis online, through content or digital PR for example.
Relevant and reputable websites linking to a website is a strong signal to Google that it might be of interest to its users and can be trusted to appear in the search results for relevant queries.
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