SEO Explained in Simple Terms

Written by: Jason Bayless | June 29, 2015

The concept behind Search Engine Optimization, better known by the abbreviated term ‘SEO,’ is simple. Your website, once launched into the World Wide Web, needs to be visible to search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, in order for people to find you. Simply producing a website and making it publicly searchable is not enough to make your site stand out above the endless sea of sites floating around the Internet. A little bit of understanding goes a long way in the world of SEO, and simply paying attention to a few key concepts will make a world of difference in the way your website is seen by search engines.

First, a basic understanding of how search engines work is necessary when tackling the task of tailoring your website to rank higher in web searches. Engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing use programs called webcrawlers to search for and index websites for easier access. These programs “crawl” through the Internet as deeply as possible in an attempt discover new pages, index them appropriately, and make them accessible for future searches. The way these “crawlers” work is they follow links from pages it has already indexed to new or undiscovered pages. The more links that track back to your site from other websites, the more visible your site will be to the webcrawlers. Cross-linking between pages on your own website can also increase your ranking slightly.

Keywords are perhaps one of the most important elements to improving your SEO standing. Keywords are single words or phrases having something to do with the content of your post, page, site, etc. which are made discoverable to webcrawlers. Most blogging services and web-design software provides a section for each post or page for the inclusion of keywords. It is important to bear in mind that the keywords you choose will be utilized by search engines to match Internet searches to your websites. Therefore, it’s important to create keywords that best describe your content. For example, if you have just published a blog post about a poodle rescue, you could attach to the post keywords like dog rescue, poodle, teacup poodle, toy poodle, poodle rescue, no-kill, ASPCA poodle, etc.

Constantly updating the content of your website, such as adding blog posts every day or adding new products to an Ecommerce site, is another way of increasing your site’s SEO rating. New content will bring webcrawlers back to your page over an over again, increasing your ranking each time. This method can be boosted even more by making sure there are backlinks (incoming links from other sites) associated with all of your new content. The more pages that link to your site, the more often the crawlers will stumble across your site. This essentially proves that your site is more popular, and therefore deserves a higher ranking in search results.

In the late 1990s, it became apparent to search engine companies that web developers were finding ways to abuse the system in order to earn higher search result rankings through unapproved ways. Using SEO in honest, approved ways falls under the term ‘white hat SEO,’ whereas abusing the system in order to force search engines to rank your site higher than others is generally referred to as “black hat SEO.” One way way in which web developers use webcrawler loopholes to their advantage is called ‘keyword stuffing,” or using a massive amount of unrelated keywords in order to improve search engine ranking. Most webcrawlers will immediately recognize this, however, and the practice has become less and less frequent.

SEO is an important part of web development and Ecommerce. As stated previously, a little knowledge goes a long way towards promoting your website on search engines. For more information, moz.com has published a detailed tutorial at: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo