SEO - What is It?

Every day, internet users conduct over 3.5 billion online searches, looking for information, services, and products. And that’s just on Google, not to mention the other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. SEO or search engine optimisation offers entrepreneurs and marketers a way to get their websites seen by online searchers.

Everyone with a website wants their site to hit the first pages of Google so they can drive traffic to their site. SEO is the process of fine-tuning a website to try to achieve higher rankings in the search results. Another way of looking at SEO is to think of it as a means for matching your information like your products and services with what people are searching for online.

When it comes to SEO, there’s the site owner (you), the search engine (like Google), and the searcher. If you’ve got an article about how to make pasta salad, you want Google (and the other search engines) to show your article as the top result to anyone who searches for the term ‘pasta salad’.

SEO is the work that must be done on your article in order for Google to consider including your article as one of the top results whenever anyone searches for that keyword.

Google is King of Search

There are many search engines out there other than Google like Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and more. However, nearly two-thirds of online searchers start their searches on Google. Combine that with the fact that the first five or six results on Google get the majority of all clicks, and you begin to understand why Google is the king of search.

You can look at Google as a big powerful answer machine. It studies billions of pieces of content and analyses many factors to determine which content is most likely to answer your query.

Google can do this by discovering and cataloguing all available content on the internet like web pages, PDF files, images, videos, etc using a process known as ‘crawling and indexing’. It then puts all this content in order according to how well it matches the query in a process called ‘ranking’.

SEO Then and Now

Years ago when SEO started in the mid 1990s, it was relatively easy to perform any kind of SEO. In those days, if you wanted to rank well, the trick was basically to keep repeating your keywords throughout your web pages and meta tags to convince Google to rank your site high in the search engine result pages or SERPs.

In other words, if you wanted to outrank a page that used a keyword 50 times, then you’d use a technique called ‘keyword stuffing’ where you’d cram the keyword in your content so you had more keywords than your competitor. And it worked.

Fast forward to 2021 and the SEO landscape is much different. Google is much more sophisticated wherein it can recognize keyword stuffing and other lame attempts at SEO. So what does this mean? This means that if you want your website to rank high on Google, you’ve got to play by Google’s rules and use honest SEO tactics to get your site seen.