When was the last time you comfortably searched for a service provider in the Yellow Pages? About 20 years ago, if ever, right? Thanks to web search engines like Google, today an infinite amount of information, stores, and services are just a search query away. And that's exactly why you need search engine optimization if you want to attract more visitors to your website and increase sales. But wait: What is SEO? How does professional search engine optimization work and how long does SEO take?
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, as the name suggests, optimizing a website to rank higher is search results. If you do it right, SEO measures can lead to your website being displayed high in the organic search results. SEO is a branch of search engine marketing. Optimization can target different types of search engines, including image search (e.g. Google Images), video search (e.g. Google Video), news search (e.g. Google News), or vertical search engines (e.g. booking.com).
Google is not the top dog everywhere
And yes, theoretically you can also do this optimization for other search engines, such as Bing, Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo - we are only talking about Google here, as this search engine is by far the most important with a market share of 75 percent worldwide and over 90 percent in Germany. Google is not the top dog everywhere:
- China: Baidu
- Japan: Yahoo!
- South Korea: Naver
- Russia: Yandex
- Czech Republic: Seznam
How does search engine optimization work?
Keywords, which users search for via search engines, are central to search engine optimization. As a company, it is essential that your website is found on the first page of search results for keywords that match your offer. Search engine optimization consists of a series of measures on and off the website to ensure that it is listed as high as possible in the organic Google search results for a particular search term. And here's some more technical jargon explained:
- OnPage Optimization: actions taken on your website, such as improving your meta elements, keyword or entity optimization of content on a landing page, responsive design, etc.
- OffPage Optimization: Measures outside your website, e.g. collecting backlinks and mentions.
- Keywords: search terms
- Backlinks: A backlink is a link that starts from one website and leads to another website.
- Organic search results (Natural Listings): natural and non-paid results of organic search.
- Search engine ranking: Ranking of your listing in search results
What are the first principles of SEO?
The first principles are the most fundamental truths of a concept. Think of the smallest building block, the smallest atomic unit. It's critical to know when you're starting from basic truths and when you're starting from hearsay. To be successful in a complex field like search engine optimization, you need to know the first principles and build all the other (secondary) principles on top of them. Here are the primary principles of SEO:
- Google wants people to use its search engine so they can sell that attention to advertisers.
- The effort of a search engine crawler is not free for Google.
- A page can only be indexed if it has been previously found by a search engine crawler.
- A page must be indexed in order to appear in the search results for a search query.
- A search query is a request for something specific.
- A page must be relevant (keywords and intent) to a search query in order to rank well.
- A page can be found for several different search queries.
- A search query can have different search intentions.
- Google shows a result at the top if it best satisfies the most frequent search intention or primary demand for a search query.
- Search engines need referrals to find new pages and as a signal to rank content.
How is the search engine ranking determined by Google?
The bottom line is that Google wants one thing above all: to offer users the results they are looking for as quickly as possible and thus satisfy them. Customers will then return to this search engine again and again so that Google can continue to earn money through ad sales.
Basically, the Internet is nothing more than a huge, giant library. So how does Google decide which works or even pages to display in the top 10? The factors of relevance and authority are weighted particularly heavily. So the Google algorithm is guided by these factors, among others, when it evaluates a page:
- Content on the page (relevance to the search query, quality, and expertise).
- Backlinks from other websites to the page (domain popularity and link popularity are important SEO ranking factors, as they reflect authority; Google uses PageRank as a metric).
- User signals, such as dwell time or quick return to Google search results, also called pogo-sticking (user satisfaction)
- HTTPS, Mobile Friendly, Safe Browsing, Core Web Vitals (Page Experience)
In other words, if you want a page to rank for a particular keyword, that page must deliver what is being searched for (also called search intent). If you then manage to build up a certain level of authority through backlinks and deliver a satisfactory user experience, you have a very good chance of excellent Google rankings.
SEO optimization summarized
To all who have read this far: Great, this is exactly the ambition you need for search engine optimization!
To summarize, SEO is the optimization of websites so that they appear as high as possible in the organic results of search engines. Working towards these rankings pays off - although not overnight. For well-done SEO you need a lot of patience and enough time to implement all measures correctly. You must be able to assess what someone expects when googling a search query and deliver exactly this content. The high art of search engine optimization requires no more and no less. You can either do this yourself or hire an SEO agency.
Remember that search engine optimization is an ongoing process that never stops. It's a never-ending competition for valuable top spots for lucrative keywords.
Has SEO benefited your business? Share your experience in the comments.
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