What is SEO?

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Written by Neil in SEO with 5 comments

Updated November 1, 2014

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of optimizing a website with an objective of raising its search engine ranking for a particular keyword (or set of keywords).

Let’s take a look at a search on Google for example, the most popular search engine today. When you do a search on Google, you see two sets of results: paid ads, and what is referred to as ‘organic’ results.

Google Search Results Page: Paid Ads vs. Organic Listings

In the example above we see the search results for the keyword “golf clubs”. The first three results and the results on the right are paid ads and are indicated as such by Google. These websites are paying Google to have their websites displayed whenever a user searches for “golf clubs”. To be more precise, these websites pay whenever their ad is clicked. This is referred to as Pay Per Click or PPC advertising. The price of a single click in these paid results on Google may range anywhere from a few cents to upwards of $50, per click(!), depending on factors like the keyword being targeted, geographical location of the user, and more. What these advertisers are paying for is visibility – they are paying to ensure their ‘search result’ is shown whenever a user searches for a particular keyword. This type of advertising is referred to as Search Engine Marketing or SEM for short.

Wait – weren’t we talking about SEO?

The other set of results in the screenshot above are the ‘organic’ search results. These are the websites which Google (using their sophisticated algorithms) has decided are the top matches for the keyword “golf clubs”, from all websites on the internet. In this case we see that golfsmith.com is the #1 result, followed by amazon.com in 2nd and dickssportinggoods.com in 3rd.

70% of clicks on search engine results pages are on organic results
70% of clicks on search engine results pages are on organic results
Trying to get your website to rank high in these organic search results is what SEO is all about!

The prime objective of SEO is to raise your website to the number one spot in the organic results for your particular keywords. This is never completely in your hands though – you do the best you can in terms of SEO but ultimately it’s up to the search engines to decide which website ranks at which position.

Google owns roughly 70% of the search engine market share
Google owns roughly 70% of the search engine market share

Where does your site rank in the search engines?

Next: Why is SEO so important?

 

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