Just what the heck is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization: The devil is in the backlinks

In an age where the Internet have pervaded every aspect of our lives, it is necessary for all businesses to maintain an online presence. Most (if not all) businesses have websites nowadays, and if you are a business without a website, you should seriously consider getting one.

SEO

But having an online presence and having a significant online presence are two different things. Most people discover websites using a search engine (usually Google). You enter a query, you find a website that can help you out and you reach this website.

Now lets say you have produced some useful and interesting content on a specific topic. On paper, it seems easy. Your website should pop up in search results whenever someone types a relevant query. But in reality, the matter is a lot more complex. Search engines aren't so unforgiving. You may have written much better content than your competitor, but when it comes down to it, your competitor may appear higher in search results due to certain factors.

What 'certain factors'? Well, that's what we are here to talk about. We are talking about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is probably a term that you have heard being tossed around. While you may have a rough idea what it is, we are here to clear misconceptions and clearly explain to you what SEO is.

In a nutshell, SEO basically means to game the search engine. The main goal is to get higher up in results, and while before you could stuff your content with keywords and use backlinks, search engines have been becoming more and more intelligent. They need good and unique content and legitimate techniques (also known as White Hat SEO).

Before, search engine used to look at only your website. They didn't focus much on your content (unless you stuffed it with keywords, as mentioned above). Now, not only do search engines look at your content, but they also look at your presence on the Internet. This means that search engines are starting to look at your social channels and also quality backlinks. Now we know we said that backlinks were used as a metric in the early days, but now we are talking about quality backlinks. When measuring the significance of a backlink, search engines first look at how relevant it is to the keyword.

For example, if you link books to Amazon, it is not really very relevant, is it? On the other hand, if you linked E-Commerce to Amazon, it would become more relevant. We are talking about internal backlinks here. On the other hand, external backlinks are even more significant, provided they come from established and trusted sources. Anyone can set up a couple of websites and link them together. Unfortunately, search engines have caught on to that, and actually penalize you if they detect any illicit behavior.

Search engines keep on updating their crawlers (Which actually rank websites), and so websites must keep on updating their websites with the current standards, else they risk falling behind in the increasingly competitive search engine rankings.

We can write a whole book about search engine optimization, but we have covered the basics here. The thing is, SEO isn't static. It is dynamic and evolving, so you make sure your website evolves with the search engines.

Good luck!

* We are launching our new weekly(ish) section named "What the Heck is ..." where we explain basic digital terms in a way that everyone across the world gets a better representation and understanding of the digital world.