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What Is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is how you make your website perform better in organic search results. The aim is to increase and maintain the quality and volume of website traffic.

But what are organic search results?

When you use a search engine, there are two types of results – organic and paid.

  • As the name suggests, organic results are “natural”. Where your website appears in the ranking is determined by complex algorithms. Organic results rank pages based on relevance to search queries and applied SEO practices, among other things.
  • Paid results, on the other hand, are ads shown at the very top of the page. Advertisers pay search engines to display their web pages when users search for certain keywords. 

You can easily identify paid results by looking for the word “Ad” next to the link of the website:

An example of an ad in Google search results

Why do you need search engine optimization?

The goal of SEO is to rank on search engine result pages (SERP). A SERP is the web page that is presented to the user when they search for certain keywords.

SERP rankings play a major role in increasing your website’s traffic. As of October 2019, around 93% of all web traffic comes from a search engine, according to 99firms.

Databox revealed that 67% of search traffic goes to the first five organic results, with 30% of them belonging to the page in the first position.

By optimizing your SEO and ranking high on SERPs, you can boost your website’s visibility and traffic. 

The more presence you have on SERP, the better your chances of getting people to recognize your brand.

Furthermore, high brand recognition helps boost sales and bypass competition. You can do all of that without spending a dime on advertisements.

Although SEO can be quite tricky to learn at first, optimizing your site’s SEO is beneficial in the long run.

How does search engine optimization work?

Optimizing your website requires some specific techniques that take time to master. 

In general, there are two main categories of SEO – on-page and off-page.

  • On-page SEO refers to the efforts you make on the website itself. This might include using mobile-friendly design and strategically placing relevant keywords in your content.
  • Off-page SEO focuses on external processes that can boost a site’s ranking. In general, this term refers to promotional methods like social media marketing and guest posting. More on this later.

Combined, these two methods help search engines discover your pages, index them, and rank them based on the final SEO score.

Search engines discover new web pages by deploying bots or web crawlers. 

These bots go through your website, find new pages, and try to understand what they are about. The content is uploaded to a database called an index.

The information stored in the index is displayed to users based on their search query. The rank of the pages is determined by predefined factors.

Each search engine has its own rules when ranking the pages. 

Google, the biggest search engine, for instance, has 200 factors it considers. This includes domain security and site speed:

  • A domain is considered secure when it has https at the very beginning of its URL. This is a sign that the website is using an SSL certificate. SSL encrypts all data transfers between your site and your users to prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Meanwhile, site speed has always been an important ranking factor for Google. This became even more true when they rolled out The Speed Update in 2018.

If your website takes more than two seconds to load, Google will send fewer bots to it, according to Bitcatcha. As a result, your pages won’t be indexed and ranked quickly.

Factors impacting search engine optimization 

As we’ve discussed before, in order to rank higher in search engine result pages, you need to optimize your website’s on-page and off-page SEO. 

On-page SEO

  • High-quality content – this factor is crucial in SEO. Content has to be original and relevant to the user’s search intent. If you’re struggling to write SEO-friendly content, we have an AI-Writer that can help.
  • Internal links – whenever you write an article, make sure to link to other pages on your website. Internal links help bots and users find related information and help other pages to rank better.
  • Title tag – this refers to the page title displayed on SERP. Make sure to use short and catchy titles, as they are the first thing people see. As a rule of thumb, title tags should be no more than 60 characters and include your most important keywords.
  • Meta description – is a summary of your web page that’s usually 160 characters long. A good meta description can make people click on your web page. Be sure to include relevant keywords to summarize the page.
  • Image ALT text – a text that describes an image. This text helps search engines understand images better, and gets your image to be displayed on SERP when users search for corresponding keywords.
  • URL structure – a good URL structure gives both humans and search engines a better understanding of your website. A good URL is short and includes relevant keywords.
  • Keyword optimization — place keywords in prime spots to help drive traffic to your website. Remember to use your keywords in your content, meta description, title tag, and alt-text.

Off-page SEO 

  • Link building – the practice of getting other websites to link to your website (backlinking). Pages with backlinks from trusted websites are considered as high-quality content. These pages will rank higher on SERP.
  • Social media promotion – generates awareness for your website. A good social media presence tells search engines that your domain has high value> This improves your search engine rankings.
  • External anchor text – the clickable text of a link on other websites that link to your website. Search engines use this to see what other people think of your page and understand what the content is about.
  • Guest posting – the act of writing a post for somebody else’s website for back-linking purposes. It can help to build your site’s authority and reputation.

Benefits of search engine optimization

After putting all that effort into on-page and off-page SEO, you can expect many benefits to your website. Here are five of them:

  • Better user experience – by applying SEO best practices, you’ll provide relevant content, improve site speed, and secure your website. All of these will lead to a better user experience.
  • Build brand awareness and credibility – the higher you rank on SERP, the more people will recognize your brand. A high ranking proves the quality and credibility of your content.
  • Better conversion rates –  due to the increased brand recognition, there’s a higher chance of customers using your products or services. SEO is likely to increase your conversion rates.
  • Cost-effective marketing – ranking on SERP gives you free traffic. You don’t need to allocate a budget for online or traditional advertisements.
  • Helps small businesses compete with bigger companies search engines don’t judge your site based on your brand. You have as much chance as anyone else to grow your business.

Ways to improve your site’s search engine optimization

Aside from the elements mentioned above, there are other ways to improve your site’s SEO.

  • Use visual media like videos and images to break up the text. With images here and there, visitors are more likely to finish reading your articles.
  • Your website design is one of the most important SEO factors. A great design keeps your visitors around, encourages them to explore more, and increases your retention rate.
  • As a rule of thumb, keep your design simple. Use two to three colors, provide a clear navigation menu, and be consistent across all pages.
  • Considering that 52% of web traffic comes from mobile phones, it’s crucial to have a mobile-friendly site. You can rest assured that your site will look great on any device.

Fortunately, Zyro has everything covered. You’ll get access to our designer-made templates, all of which are responsive as standard.

Zyro also hosts your website for free. Our auto-scalable hosting adjusts resources according to your traffic, so your site will always be fast and running smoothly.

Once your site is optimized, you need to check your website performance by using tools like Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.

Google Analytics measures many metrics, including:

  • Audience – number of people, demographic, and location
  • Content – most popular and least popular
  • Traffic sources – organic search, social, and referral

You can also use Google Tag Manager along with Google Analytics. It is used to track clicks on links, page views, resource downloads, and many more. 

The data gathered by Google Tag Manager can be sent to Google Analytics to create a comprehensive analysis of your site’s performance.

What is SEO recap

Search engine optimization (SEO) is used to increase organic search traffic. It can increase brand awareness and credibility, boost conversion rates, and help bypass your competition.

There are a lot of factors to consider in SEO. The main idea is to create the best user experience for your visitors.

Always create valuable content that answers the search query, write meta tags that describe your content, optimize your site speed, and use a beautiful site design.

It might take a while to master SEO and reap its benefits, but this practice will definitely benefit you in the long run.

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Martina is an expert in writing about website building and eCommerce, but her real passion is helping others grow their small business online. From solid branding to punchy marketing strategies, you can count on her for the best growth tricks. In her spare time, Martina loves nothing more than a good scoop of ice-cream and a sweaty match of tennis.

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