One of the roadblocks that get in the way of true digital inclusivity is the density of industry jargon. Terms like Search Engine Optimization are bandied about by marketing firms and web designers – often with very little clear explanation as to what they mean. Jargonistic language makes concepts seem complex, but there are often quite understandable core ideas at the center of this labyrinth of terminology.
So, what is Search Engine Optimization in real terms? This quick guide cuts out the jargon and gets to the point. These are just the basics. If this interests you, there is a near infinite amount of research to pursue.
Search Engine Optimization – or SEO for short – is the practice of improving a website’s traffic by ensuring that it appears near the top of the page when people search for relevant terms on sites like Google and Bing. These rankings are incredibly important. The huge majority of online inquiries are made through search engines, so appearing near the top of the rankings is a key way of enticing visitors. In modern business, it is a well-established fact that an SEO agency can help you get better Google rankings. We’ll get into just how they do it later in this article.
Although some people believe that Search Engine Optimization practices started in 1991 with publishing the first website, most people agree that SEO was born in around 1997. One story tells of how the manager of the band Jefferson Starship, appalled that the band only appeared on page 4 of a Google search for ‘Jefferson Starship’, set out to alter their online presence to optimize it for early directory-based search engine algorithms. Regardless of the truth behind this piece of internet lore, it was around this time that digital marketing agencies started to specialize in Search Engine Optimization.
Search Engine Optimization is a constantly evolving field. Early search engines were directory-based, using an algorithm to choose the most ‘relevant’ results from an approved list. This is no longer the case. Google – by far the most important search engine – has been constantly updating its search algorithms to get faster, smarter results and cut down on manipulation. Modern SEO agencies typically use a multi-pronged approach to improve their clients’ internet traffic. Here are some of the most widely used modern techniques.
Link Building – Link building is the bread and butter of SEO. Google search algorithms have always treated links as a sort of online reputational currency. The more a site is linked to by other quality sites, the better the site will be ranked by the search algorithm. SEO agencies drive up a client site’s reputation by spreading links to it across relevant parts of the internet.
Keyword Research and Optimization – Research is needed to find out what people are actually searching – the words they actually type in during a query. These are known as keywords and must be utilized carefully when producing content to match what potential visitors might search.
On Site Optimization – The client website itself must be optimized to be search engine friendly. This can involve the use of keywords, the writing of quality content and the tailoring of content to the needs of potential visitors.