Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you expand your target audience, earn more revenue, and create long-term brand awareness. However, implementing SEO on your website can be tricky, especially if you know little or nothing about it. It’s tough because you must understand how optimization work and how search engines rank web content.
So how does SEO work?
This article reveals everything you need to know to improve your site’s ranking. You’ll discover how search engines rank content and SEO essentials to get to the top of the result pages. But first, let’s learn the basics.
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) involves improving your website’s organic traffic and boosting your ranking in search engines like Google and Bing.
SEO helps make your business more visible in the online world. You can drive massive organic traffic to your website without the cost of paid ads. If you set it up correctly, you appear at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs) to continuously get free traffic on your site.
At the top position, searchers can easily familiarize themselves with your website and business. This can bring more conversions, generate more leads, and encourage sales.
SEO includes creating value-packed content, gaining backlinks from reputable sources, monitoring your website’s technical health, and optimizing your site’s local search presence to rank better on search engines
Understanding How Search Engines Work
Google is the search engine most people use for web searches. Let’s use it to explain how search engines work.
Google uses complicated computer programs called algorithms to organize and rank search results. The algorithms consider various ranking factors to decide how well a web page ranks. Unfortunately, nobody outside Google’s internal circle knows all the ranking factors the algorithms consider.
However, Google has provided site owners with crucial ranking factors and best practices to rank better on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
“…Search algorithms look at many factors and signals, including the words of your query, relevance, and usability of pages, the expertise of sources, and your location and settings. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query.”
The ultimate goal for all search engines is to provide searchers with the most relevant, helpful information on SERPs. Search engines follow the stages below to identify and rank a web page:
- Crawling: It is the primary method search engines use to discover new content on the web. Crawling involves computer programs called spiders that follow links on pages in a search engine’s database to find new web pages.
Suppose your website’s homepage has a backlink from a site already in Google’s database.
The next time Google spiders crawl that site, they will follow that link to identify your homepage. Then, the spiders will crawl the links on your homepage to discover other web pages on your website.
- Indexing: After crawling, search engines analyze the newly-discovered URLs to understand what a web page is about by considering elements like images, content, and other media files. Then, the search engines store the information in their databases.
- Serving: After analyzing URLs, search engines use specific ranking factors to determine web pages that best serve a web visitor’s needs and rank them on SERPs. The ranking factors include a website’s reputation for a particular topic, loading speed, and keywords, among other factors.
Understanding How Search Engine Optimization Works
How does SEO work?
SEO works by showing search engines that your web content is the best result for a particular topic. All search engines have one goal: To provide searchers with the most relevant and valuable results.
How you do SEO depends on the search engine you are optimizing for. Each search engine uses a different ranking algorithm. If you want to multiply your site’s organic traffic, you must understand and appeal to Google’s algorithm. You need to understand the YouTube search engine if you want more video views.
How to Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
Google is the biggest search engine of them all. Its market share is beyond 90%. For this reason, we’ll focus on how to rank higher on Google. There are three ways to improve your SEO game:
- Technical SEO
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
Let’s dig deeper into each for more details.
- Technical Optimization
Technical optimization involves improving your site’s technical aspects to help search engines to discover and analyze your website more easily. Excellent technical SEO ensures search engines can quickly find, assess, and index information on your web pages.
Here are the top priorities for technical SEO:
- Page speed: Your web pages should load fast. According to Google, site speed (and, as a result, page speed) is a ranking factor. The search engine giant prioritizes faster web pages because of a better user experience. Faster websites create happy web users, which is the ultimate goal of all search engines.
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to evaluate and reduce the load time of your web pages. Your page speed should be as fast as possible without compromising the web visitor experience. Two seconds is the ideal threshold, but the further you reduce the load time, the better.
- Mobile friendliness: People are increasingly accessing the web on mobile devices, so optimizing your website to be mobile-friendly ensures you perform well on all devices. Mobile-friendliness is a ranking signal for search engines. Test how your web pages perform on mobile devices and optimize them for better ranking on results pages.
- Website architecture: It refers to how your web pages are structured and linked together. A good website architecture helps users and search engine crawlers access your content quickly. They should get what they are looking for with the least clicks possible—ideally four clicks or less.
Use category pages and link them directly from your homepage for well-organized website architecture. Additionally, leverage internal linking and use a site map for search engine spiders to easily crawl your website.
Ensure your URLs follow a consistent, logical structure that describes the information inside each web page. This helps search engine crawlers and users understand where they are on your website.
- On-Page Optimization
On-page SEO involves optimizing the content on a web page. This process ensures your site’s content is relevant and offers the best experience to web visitors. Here are the critical elements of on-page optimization:
- Keywords: Before writing any blog post, research keywords using tools like Semrush, Ahref, or Moz. Focus on how many people use a particular search term and how difficult it will be to rank for it. As a result, you’ll know the best keywords your content should target.
- Keyword frequency and placement: Keyword frequency has nothing to do with keyword stuffing. It’s simply mentioning target terms a few times to confirm to search engines that your content is really about a particular topic.
Additionally, optimize your headings with the focus keyword and ensure they are unambiguous. This is a critical signal to search engines and users of what a web page is about. Apart from your headings, use relevant terms naturally throughout your content while avoiding keyword stuffing.
- Search intent: Create content with user intent in mind—search intent optimization. This means providing relevant information and answering users’ questions at the right time and in a way they need it. Your keyword research tool will help you examine how web users search online to identify what they are most likely looking for.
- Internal linking: Internal linking is crucial in SEO because search engines crawl the web using links. Your high-authority web pages should link to your new pages or those that need more visibility to improve how well Google crawls and understand your website.
- Outbound links: You need accurate, high-quality content to rank well on search engines. Outbound links are links from your website to other sites that help confirm your content’s accuracy and validate credibility. Ensure your SEO strategy includes outbound links to authoritative websites.
On-page optimization is mainly about creating better SEO content. To achieve that, we recommend starting with comprehensive competitor research. What topics are they tackling on their blog? What keywords or search terms are they targeting?
With the answers at your fingertips, identify opportunities to handle those topics in more depth and detail. In return, you will address content gaps that help you stand out from the competition on search engine result pages.
- Off-Page Optimization
Off-page SEO involves optimization techniques you implement off your website. These techniques help search engines determine if your website is trustworthy, relevant, and authoritative.
Off-page optimization includes content marketing on social media and influencer marketing, but the most critical aspect is link building. Link building involves other sites linking to your website through hyperlinks. In short, it’s the process of getting backlinks from other sites.
Backlinks are a vital SEO aspect as they are votes of trust from other websites. They help boost your content in the SERPs, provided they originate from authoritative websites. The higher the number of high-quality backlinks, the more reliable your website appears to search engines. Here are three common ways to launch a link-building campaign:
- Create valuable, authoritative content within your niche that will naturally earn links.
- Participate in strategic guest posting.
- Leverage broken link building.
Remember, backlinks from low-quality websites will not help you rank better on search engines. So concentrate on quality instead of quantity when link building.
Is Your Website Optimized for Search Engines?
Romain Berg is an SEO agency that helps you rank higher on Google and create a larger target audience in your business. We understand how search engines work and the main factors they are looking for when ranking content.
We can help you create more valuable, authoritative content that addresses the innermost needs of web visitors and search engines. We will help you open the floodgates of traffic on your website. Don’t take our word for it. Schedule a free strategy call with our agency to see how we help elevate your website to the top of Google.