For some people, SEO is some form of online hacking or tricks done to achieve higher in search engine results. It’s not. Actually, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a job. Search engines’ guidelines determine the responsibilities of this job. This is what I do for a living.
If you were told to hire an SEO specialist to rank on Google and want to learn more about the subject, you are on the right post. We’ll talk about what SEO is and different ways of doing it.
How search engines Work?
Think about how you’ve searched on google today. You had a question in mind and typed a few words in the search box. The words you typed (also known as keywords or search terms) determined the results that showed up.
If you mistyped a word, the search engine catered for that and brought up the most relevant web pages. How pertinent a web page is to another is the primary task of a search engine’s algorithm. The algorithm takes into consideration more than 200 factors to rank web pages in its index. Here is how search engines work:
To feature in google’s search result, you want to make sure google can find and crawl your website. Google has a robot named Googlebot. It is a computer program written to crawl the web at highway speed.
Search engines’ bots crawl the web looking for fresh content. It is important to note that they take special notice of new websites. You can control what a search engine sees and crawls on your website with a robots.txt file. You can allow or restrict full or parts of your website with simple command lines.
After crawling your website, the search engine will put your website in its index. You can think of the index as a gigantic library and of your website as a book. If your book’s topic is travelling for example, it gets organized with books on the same topic.
The next time a reader (user) searches for a travel information, the librarian (search engine) directs him to that section (results page). How you get the best place on the best shelf is up to these 200 factors. Some of them include:
- Content – How good and well structured your content is (On-site)
- Demand – How often readers search for your book (Branded searches or direct visits)
- Popularity – How much other books mention yours (NAP citations)
- Trust – How much other relevant books recommend yours (Backlinks)
- Time – How much time people spend reading your book (Dwell time)
- Speed – Is your book heavy to carry around? (User eXperience)
- Freshness – How often you update your book with new information (Blog).
So when you perform a search on Google for example, you are not searching the live web, but google’s latest index. You can control what and in which priority you want your content indexed with a sitemap.xml file.
What is SEO?
SEO refers to a set of measures aimed at improving a website’s visibility on search engines. In simple terms, SEO is to educate google what your content is about and the best way to display it.
Google is nothing more than a bot. A friendly bot that helps billions of searchers every day. As the days and updates go by, the bot is getting a lot smarter. It reads between the lines of your searches, offers personalized results and more.
There are different ways of doing SEO. All have the same goals, but risks are never the same. If you have a website, I am sure you often receive SEO proposals (I receive them too). You have to be wary of such proposals because there are different types of SEO:
A white-hat SEO is someone who fully adheres to search engine guidelines. This usually requires a steeper learning curve and more time to implement, but benefits are long-lasting. White-hat SEO is also risk-free of any google penalty. White hat SEO is real SEO. If you get it right, White hat SEO will make your page appear as high as possible in Google’s organic search results.
Black-hat makes use of non-ethical techniques to achieve better positions in search results. You may notice some short-term success through increased traffic to your site. But this is usually a short-lived story. The risk of a Google penalty is always high with such practices. Also, think of your brand image.
You may also hear about grey-hat SEO. This usually implies someone who follows webmaster guidelines but at the same time using spammy techniques to achieve faster results. Stay away from that too.
What hat do I wear?
I am a pure white hat SEO specialist. I do keep an eye on what is being done in the black-hat SEO world. This helps me keep my distances with such practices and protect myself and my clients from negative SEO.