If you’re wondering what SEO stands for, here is the short answer:
Search engine optimization.
To define search engine optimization will take a little more time. To start to understand, what does SEO mean, let’s break down the three words a bit.
- Search. One of the most popular ways people find products and suppliers is through search on websites such as Google and Bing. Whether the need is commercial or industrial, search is fast, convenient (all it takes is an Internet connection) and proven over more than two decades. Google is by far the biggest search engine, processing more than 40,000 searches every second. That works out to 3.5 billion searches a day and 1.2 trillion searches a year (worldwide). Google has more than 90 percent of the search market.
- Engine. Search works by a user entering a query into a search box and hitting “click.” Google (we’ll use Google to stand for all search engines) then matches the query (which is comprised of words, and those words are called keywords) with web pages it has indexed in its database. The “engine” of Google is what ranks those indexed pages in a certain order, with the idea being to show the user the most relevant and reliable web pages at the top of the page. Another way to think of the “engine” is that it symbolizes Google’s search algorithm — a complex formula of ranking factors that rank web pages in the (theoretically) proper order.
- Optimization. Optimization is what SEO professionals do to make a client’s web pages rise in the rankings. According to what we just said, this project involves making pages of a website more relevant and reliable when search queries are made using keywords that match what the client wants to sell. The higher the web pages rank, the more often those web pages will display to the right search engine users — the ones out of those 1.2 trillion searches a year that are interested in buying what the company sells.
What does SEO mean? It means turning your website into a lead generating machine or an online revenue-producing machine.
The Mysteries of Search Engine Algorithms
It wouldn’t be a stretch to define SEO marketing as something of a guessing game. Don’t let that statement scare you, though — SEO marketing has proven its effectiveness in generating sales leads and online revenue for decades. Nevertheless, if you wonder, what does SEO mean and what is it, if you want to invest in SEO wisely and confidently, you need to be aware that SEO is a mix of artistry and science. There are a lot of unknowns.
We mentioned that Google’s algorithm, the formula that ranks web pages in a certain order. There are more than 200 factors that go into Google’s algorithm, and nobody outside Google knows exactly what those factors are and exactly how they are weighted. Shrouding search engine algorithms makes sense if you stop to think about it. If everyone knew exactly how algorithms worked, everyone would be manipulating their websites to achieve high rankings, rather than focusing on creating reliable and relevant content. Google’s search engine users want reliable and relevant content, not inferior content that rises to the top of the rankings because someone has outwitted the algorithm.
Define SEO Marketing — Nitty Gritty
Professional SEO practitioners arrive at the best methods of optimizing websites by collecting and analyzing data, paying careful attention to statements Google does make about its search engine algorithm, trial-and-error, and experience. But what does SEO mean exactly, in terms of work that is done in an SEO campaign?
Here is an overview of SEO tasks:
- Big picture. SEO practitioners do work on the website, and they do work off the website. The main goals of on-site SEO are to make sure Google can read, interpret and value all the website’s content properly, and to impress the heck out of Google especially for the campaign’s target web pages — usually product/service pages that generate leads or online orders. The main goal of off-site SEO is to build links back to the website. It is widely known that the quantity and quality of links to your website is a very important element in Google’s algorithm.
- Small picture, on-site. On-site SEO tasks revolve around making the website as user-friendly as possible, and the content as valuable as possible, especially for the target pages. A strong website for SEO is mobile-friendly, fast-loading, easy to scan, easy to navigate, informative, authoritative, easy to interact with, free of technical errors, and much more. SEO campaigns manage technical website issues and on-page issues that are too numerous to mention, but the number of tasks and difficulty of execution depend on the starting condition of the website. Some need a lot of work just to get a campaign started, and others need minor tweaking and fairly routine ongoing monitoring.
- Small picture, off-site. Building inbound links (called “link building” in the SEO biz) is accomplished through a wide range of possible activities. A popular (and effective) link building technique is to write articles and have them published on high-quality websites or blogs. Common practice is to have a link to the author’s website. Other link building options include obtaining listings in industrial, retail or general business directories, and by cultivating online user reviews on sites such as Yelp and Google My Business.
To fully answer the question, what does SEO mean, would go on for pages, given the complexity and technical nature of the field. If you are interested in deepening your knowledge of SEO, our website contains articles with much more information on this fascinating and ever-changing topic. Please explore!