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What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

By Matt Edward

September 19, 2022

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? SEO means doing specific things for your website that will help it rank higher on search engines like Google with the intention of getting more visitors and traffic. SEO is not paid advertising, even though you hope to achieve the result with both. The idea is to make your web page the best possible option so that search engines have no choice but to show your web page at the top of the search engine for a specific keyword/search term.

That is a very general statement, and to be honest search engine optimization is a pretty vague term these days. There are a variety of different types and styles of search engine optimization to acquire organic search traffic. Organic search traffic means traffic that is not directly paid for.

You can have hundreds of different types of search engine optimization, even though people like to generalize.

Major search engines like Google use a variety of different signals to decide what web pages to show and for what search terms. The search rankings are constantly evolving and changing based on many different things. We don’t know all the signals that the search engines take into account, but after years of data, we have a decent idea of signals that make a big impact on how search engine algorithms operate.

I made this Word cloud just to show a few of the things that you have to think about for search engine optimization.

what is search engine optimization

There are hundreds of terms and potential paths to go down if you want to optimize for organic search results. Search engine marketing can be an incredibly steep learning journey.

With all that being said, as Google develops and updates its search engine algorithms, there are always new techniques, strategies, and tools to optimize for SEO.

Keyword Research & Search Engine Marketing

Keyword research is at the centre of search engine optimization. Why? Because that’s how search engines work. You need to provide input, which would be keywords, and you get the most relevant search engine results based on your keyword intent.

Search engines like Google have put a ton of time into user intent to make sure they provide you with the best results. Certain keywords and searches can have several different meanings, so that is where search engine rankings start adding more and more signals. For example, you could be searching for “Puma” the brand, or “Puma” the cat.

I don’t necessarily want to go into each of the ranking factors that we believe affect the algorithms, but we can break down the types of search engine optimization into categories to further explore. I REALLY don’t like just putting things into buckets, but if I were to break it down, this is how I would do it.

The Different Types of Search Engine Optimization

  • On Page Optimization
  • Off Page SEO
  • Technical SEO
  • Local SEO (sometimes)

Some would argue that local SEO should have its own category, but I believe local can be categorized in each of those 3 factors.

Each one of these categories can be broken down into an extremely large number of sub-categories. But optimizing for each one of these categories has the same goal, to increase relevant organic traffic on your website for your intended goal and give them the best possible user experience while on the site.

If you do this, search engines will start to trust your site as more of an authority.

This could lead to more traffic, higher quality traffic, and potentially even better search engine rankings.

Let’s briefly explore each of these 3 categories in a little more detail.

On Page Optimization

On-page SEO is all about making certain that your web pages are as good as they can be in order to rank for your target keywords. This includes everything from your title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, pictures and videos, as well as the text itself.

There are a ton of different things that you can do to make sure your on-page SEO is done well, but the most important thing is to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. You don’t want to stuff your keywords into places where they don’t belong just for the sake of getting keywords on the page.

You want to make sure that the keywords you’re targeting are actually relevant to the page itself, and that you’re using them in a way that makes sense.

Off Page SEO

Off page SEO is all about building relationships and trust with other websites. The goal is to get other websites to link back to yours as a reference. This could be done through guest blogging, creating infographics, or even just by providing free resources.

The reason why off page SEO is so important is because search engines use these links as a way to determine how trustworthy and relevant your website is. If you have a lot of high quality websites linking back to yours, then that tells the search engines that your site must be pretty good.

This can lead to better search engine rankings, as well as more traffic.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is all about making sure that your website is set up in the best way possible to be found and indexed by search engines. This includes everything from your sitemaps, Robots.txt file, redirects, site speed, and much more.

The goal of technical SEO is to make it as easy as possible for search engines to find and index your website. The easier you make it, the better your chances are of ranking well.

Local SEO

Local SEO is all about optimizing your website to rank for local searches. This includes everything from making sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is correct and consistent across the web, to setting up local citations and reviews.

The goal of local SEO is to make it easy for people in your target market to find your business when they’re searching for things related to what you do.

If you’re a plumber in Los Angeles, then you want to make it easy for people in Los Angeles to find you when they’re searching for a plumber.

Local SEO can be a little bit different than the other types of SEO, but the goal is still the same. You want to increase relevant traffic to your website from people who are actually interested in what you do.

Those are just a few of the different types of search engine optimization, but I hope this gives you a better understanding of the concept as a whole.

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, or if you want to hire an agency to help you with your website’s optimization, feel free to contact us. We would be more than happy to chat with you about your specific needs and see how we can help!

About the author

Hi, my name is Matt Edward. As an SEO expert, I help businesses like yours increase their online traffic and revenue by bringing qualified leads to your website.

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