SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization, the practice of improving your website to make it rank well on Google. It has become an integral part of digital marketing for the numerous ways it can be leveraged, such as increasing leads, sales, brand awareness and other results that have a direct impact on the business’ bottom line.

Key SEO statistics

  • 61% of people research a product online before making a purchase
  • 75% of internet users don’t scroll past the first page of search engines
  • Up to 80% of internet users tend to click on organic search results and not as much on paid search results
  • 57% of B2B marketers say that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative
  • 72% of consumers who perform a local search will visit a business within 5 miles of their current location

Development of SEO

In the early years of SEO, optimization entailed creating quality, relevant content, ensuring accurate HTML tags, and linking internally and to external pages.

That being said, it was keywords that made all the difference: by repeating keywords many times throughout your webpages, you could hope to achieve a higher ranking in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

As you can imagine, it led to a lot of spamming, affecting user experience. Google then updated its algorithm (multiple updates to be exact) to blacklist sites that used spamming and reward those that used ethical practices.

It led to a renewed focus on content relevancy, incorporating keywords naturally and meaningfully, and delivering good user experience.

Google changes its search algorithms hundreds of times a year. Most changes are minor, some are major, requiring changes to SEO strategies. Major Google updates through the years include:

Panda: Targets low-quality content, penalizes duplicate content, keyword stuffing and user-generated spam

Penguin: Focuses on targeting bad link building practices, works in real-time to identify spammy links and links with over-optimized anchor text

Hummingbird: Google’s official engine overhaul of their entire search algorithm. Hummingbird adopts natural, conversational and semantic search and aims to understand the entire user intent behind searches

Mobile First Index: Google’s most recent major shift in search behaviour and rankings by where they will crawl the mobile version of your website first in order to determine rankings. Naturally, the desktop version of your website will always have a place in the algorithm but as user search behaviour evolves deeper into mobile usage, a fully optimised and user-friendly mobile experience is the number one key.

RankBrain: A fully operational and brilliant AI (artificial intelligence) system which runs completely on machine learning which helps to handle all the influx of new searches which Google has never seen before. Due to the nature of artificial intelligence, Rank Brain teaches itself how to crawl, analyse and understand content in order to determine rankings which are the absolute best fit for a specific user search.

Pigeon: This update focuses on local SEO and is aimed to increase the ranking of local listing in a search. Users who are closer to a business’s address are more likely to see it among local results.

Fred: “Fred” is a catchall name for any quality related algorithm(s) update(s) related to site quality that Google does not otherwise identify. Discourages thin, ad- or affiliate-heavy content. Search Engine Journal covered a great article on the Fred update.

What does SEO stand for? What is involved?

The answer to the question ‘what does SEO stand for’ can be explained with a brief discussion of what SEO actually entails:

On-page optimization: You are in full control of the on-page factors of your website, which include the code, text, visuals and different elements of user experience. When SEO companies talk about improving on-page optimization, they mean ensuring a high quality of code that enables search engine crawlers to index your website.

For instance, your SEO company will add structured data markup, which is basically a code that helps search engines understand the content on your website. The structured data also helps search results by adding rich snippets, such as product prices, reviewer information and star ratings.

Great content is a cornerstone of SEO success. A part of on-page optimization, content creation and marketing is all about creating relevant, high-quality content that includes the right keywords.

For example, if your current webpages are thin/shallow, lacking keywords or have too many short-tailed keywords, then the fix may involve creating at least 500 words of relevant, well-written content on each webpage, with short-tailed and long-tailed keywords weaved in naturally.

A good UX is both search engine- and people-friendly. That means a pleasant website design, easy navigation, robust security, and – of course – a fast-loading website (bounce rates increase by 50% if your website takes 2 seconds extra to load). In fact, as of July 2018, Google announced their official Speed Update which requires that all websites be fully loaded on in UNDER THREE SECONDS on mobile device.

Off-page optimization: In the simplest words, off-page SEO creates perceptions about your website in Google’s ‘mind’; if many quality links from authoritative sources are pointing back to your site, search engines will think that your website offers valuable content to users. Although link-building may seem straightforward enough, a lot of work is involved behind the scenes. They include knowing where your audience congregates online, writing and contributing to sites that accept guest blogs, creating mutually-beneficial relationships with influential bloggers and digital marketers, and monitoring brand mentions and reviews. This article by Neil Patel is a must-read for a correct understanding of off-page SEO.

Besides clarity about SEO techniques, it is important to determine the specific goals from SEO you wish to achieve. Read the next article which is more in depth about How SEO Works. Converted Click utilizes on-page and off-page optimization techniques, as well as resolves any technical issues affecting your website speed and security. Talk to us to learn more about how we can support your digital marketing objectives.