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What is SEO? Good Question

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Posted by Dave Lauretti on October 27, 2012

An interesting fact is that the majority of people do not know what SEO is. It’s a phrase used by those in the web industry, more specifically related to web design and online marketing.

SEO is an acronym for the phrase search engine optimization. But it’s name is misleading.

I’ve been providing SEO in Toronto and the GTA for a number of years now and have been asked the question “what is SEO” quite a number of times so today I thought I’d give you guys a clear answer and some tips that will help you get an understanding of exactly what SEO is.

What is SEO or search engine optimization?

What is SEO Search Engine OptimizationSearch engine optimization is not what it’s name implies. It doesn’t involve optimizing search engines. It is however, a technical and strategic set of actions that optimize a website for the search engines – and more specifically, for a search engine’s users. There is also the work of optimizing a website for it’s users too. Let me explain.

Optimizing websites for search engines

Optimizing for search engines involves coding your website in such a manner so as to make it more logical, structured and more easier to read and interpret by them. When a search engine can logically determine the nature of your website and can visit all it’s pages in a properly structured manner the better it can read and interpret your content and thus likely rank the pages in the search results when people do searches related to your content.

Optimizing a website for search engines also involves the proper use of keywords on all your pages and in the code. This aspect is also a part of optimizing your website for users and is considered technical SEO.

Optimizing your website for users

Optimizing a website for it’s users is a lot like optimizing for a search engine and it’s users. When optimizing a website for users, certain elements of code are manipulated in such a way so as to make the time spent on the webpage an enjoyable and positive one. We’ve all experienced websites that are very slow to load, hard to navigate or simply crash our computers. Those kinds of websites produce a negative experience for the user and is generally classified as low quality.

Take note that a lot of good looking websites can still be quite low in the quality metric. Google and other major search engines calculate the quality of a website in several areas and use those calculations to determine how high or low in the search results it will rank your website for keywords that are searched for related to your niche.

Optimizing your website for users is an art form, and it involves the technical skill of a web developer. The end result should be a website that users enjoy visiting, with content they enjoy reading, and where they can in some way or another gain from.

These days the most popular search engines can determine the quality of your website and rank it accordingly.

So now that I’ve answered your question as to what is SEO? I’ll give you some examples of actions you can take to increase the quality of your website. You can essentially say that developing a quality website is akin to developing a website that’s been optimized for search engines, their users and yours.

Signs of a quality website

There are quite a few signs of a quality website and by now, you should be able to infer that a quality website is developed in such a way that makes it more usable. There are quite a few people in the SEO world that believe website usability is an extremely strong metric when it comes to search engine rankings. Below are a few quality guidelines you can take home and adhere to.

A fast loading website

No one on the planet likes waiting more than 2 seconds for a webpage to load. It’s a fact that a large portion of people who have to wait more than 3 seconds for a webpage to load will hit the back button and click on another search result. This is bad news for you, for your potential users and it’s a clear indicator to the search engines that your website is not a good candidate to rank in any coveted search engine positions. Simply put; if a user doesn’t like you, search engines eventually won’t either.

Create descriptive titles and headings and get to the point

When a search engine or a user visits your website, their goal is to get to the juicy content they were searching for in the first place and as quickly as possible.

When a user lands on your website or webpage and has to spend large amounts of time trying to find your content, they can become distracted or even irritated and thus, hit the back button to find a better search result.

Simply put, if your website doesn’t provide the content your users are looking for in an organized and structured manner, they’ll go to the website that does and Google will eventually direct them there too, instead of yours.

Make the content completely original

This aspect of SEO for users (which in turn is SEO for the engines and their users) cannot be more stressed. Publishing content that is completely original takes your content to a new level. What level you ask? It makes your content stand out and increases it’s chance of being content that supplies a demand.

Sure your content can be just as generic as the next website but that’s not your goal. Your goal is to give your users something (content, images, code, music, information, anything) they can’t and for the time being, won’t find anywhere else.

If that’s what you’re offering, the search engines will take note of this – through their various means – and rank your website accordingly.

These are the basics of SEO. Non-SEOs can take care of some of the above quality guidelines themselves in areas like content writing but other aspects do need the skills of a technical SEO for assistance in such areas like increasing the speed of your website while loading.

Now that you’ve got a basic handle of what SEO is, feel free to share this page with your friends on Facebook and Twitter if you truly feel you found content that answered your question “what is SEO?” Feel free to comment with any of your thoughts or questions below.

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