What is SEO and how does it work?
As long as the Internet exists there is the challenge of how to find the information you are looking for. If 1000 articles are about 1 subject, how do you know which article to show first? The more articles on the same topic, the bigger the problem becomes.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the method of how you give search engines information to show your information first when specific searches are made.
Below are the basic principles of what SEO exactly is and how it works.
SEO for Google
When we talk about SEO, it is usually about Search Engine Optimization for Google. This is because Google has a market share of more than 90% on the desktop and even more than 98% on mobile.
The fact that this market share is so high is partly due to a choice Google made back in 1998.
The Internet age before Google
In 1994 there were just over 2700 websites. This was also the year Yahoo was founded and immediately gained a dominant position. Yahoo let Internet users search for information and did this mainly on the basis of 2 criteria.
- How often is the keyword used in a site and on a site page?
- How many links from other sites refer to the site or page?
Yahoo did not look at the quality of the site, the articles, or the links. This meant that if you had an important keyword on your site often enough, you would soon be shown first.
Yahoo also didn't care what the quality of the link to your site was. You could, so to speak, make 100 extra sites that all link to your site, and then your site would always be number 1.
The rise of Google
In 1998, the number of websites on the Internet had grown to 2.4 million pages. Smart techies knew the tricks to trick Yahoo and that caused a lot of frustration among users.
Searches rarely gave you the information you were looking for and commerce seemed to prevail over what the Internet was meant for. Namely, a collection of information you could rely on.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin were two students who wanted to change this. They wrote an algorithm that could analyze the quality of the number of links and gave it more importance and value than how often the keyword was used.
This could be done by looking at how often the site where the link came from was visited and if that site was about the same subject.
Thanks to the work of Larry Page and Sergey Brin much better search results came up when you looked for something and that was the start of the empire we know now.
The mission of Google
Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
This is quite an ambitious mission when you consider that in 2020 there are more than 1.8 billion websites online. After all, how do you ensure that the right information is displayed when entering a particular search query?
The solution for Google was to improve and expand its algorithm, which now consists of more than 220 different complicated criteria.
This means that every site and every site page gets a certain ranking based on 220 rules. This way it can happen that the search term "what is SEO" gets a different search result than "how does SEO work".
What is an SEO strategy?
Very simply explained is an SEO strategy, the choice on which keyword combinations you want to be found, and how you can rank as high as possible in specific searches.
This requires a lot of knowledge of Google's ever-improving algorithm. But in order to develop an SEO strategy, a thorough online competitive analysis is also required.
You at least want to know how many websites or pages rank on a certain keyword combination and why they are in the top 10.
How does SEO work?
SEO is a combination of an SEO strategy, keyword combinations, producing content, and complying with the 220 rules of Google. These are both about the content and the structure of an article as well as about the underlying technology of the site.
Speed of your site is an important weighting factor and in order for your site to load quickly, you need to take into account your server location, server capacity, and the structure of your pages.
It is therefore a misunderstanding that only by publishing SEO content you can easily get within the top 10 of the search results.
Why is an SEO strategy important?
If you prefer to pay a lot for online and offline advertising, you could argue that you don't need an SEO strategy. If you prefer to get "free" visitors because there is a lot of content being searched for on your site and it is regularly in the top 10 of search results, then you need an SEO strategy.
Google processes more than 3.5 billion searches per day worldwide. Certain keyword combinations are used tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of times a day. On the other hand, other keyword combinations are only used 10 or 20 times a day.
Example: If you sell shoes and you use the word "foot decoration" all over your site, no one will be able to find you. Nobody uses this term to search for shoes.
What can you achieve with an SEO strategy?
An average site can easily get tens of thousands of extra free visitors per month and this number can go up to millions. Almost in all cases, the investments that are needed in an SEO strategy and implementation are quickly earned back.
Even for informative sites that do not sell products, the investment can be earned back. For this purpose, Google has set up an advertising program. By placing ads from third parties on your site you can earn quite a bit and the more visitors, the more you earn.