What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization for Beginners

SEO is a carefully paved and a continually developing pathway to ensure that the search engines understand the contents of a page with utmost accuracy and position it in the SERPs accordingly.

However, before learning about the basics of SEO, we must comprehend and uncover how search engines work and determine the part where SEO comes into play.

How do search engines work?

The internet is a hub of limitless information that grows with each passing day. But due to the same reason, sorting through it to extract the information we need becomes complicated and extensively time-consuming. People use search engines to sort through the clutter of unwanted information and find the information they want.

Here’s an example for better understanding. Consider search engines as a librarian and limitless information as books while the searchers can be readers. Whenever a reader approaches a librarian and asks for a book, the librarian knows where it is and provides it to the reader. Similarly, when searchers ask the search engine about the required information, the search engine offers them the most relevant information.

Working of a search engine can be broken down into three steps:

Step I: Crawling: Search engine bots crawl through the various pieces of information or web pages on the internet.

Step II: Indexing: After the crawl, those web pages are analyzed for ranking signals and categorized.

Step III: Ranking: When the indexing is done, the search engine determines each page’s position in the SERPs based on their carefully developed algorithm.

Speaking of Google (since it is the most-used search engine), it has a very advanced algorithm about which none of us have a clear idea apart from some clues.

Google explains the process of ranking in “How Search Works” briefly:

“These ranking systems are made up of not one, but a whole series of algorithms. To give you the most useful information, Search algorithms look at many factors, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources and your location and settings. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query – for example, the freshness of the content plays a bigger role in answering queries about current news topics than it does about dictionary definitions.”

You can learn more about how search engines work in our detailed guide on how search engines rank web pages.

While going through the guide, you must’ve come across terms like on-page, off-page, etc. These are core SEO terms that include multiple factors. So, let’s move on to learning more about SEO and different types of SEO.

What does SEO mean?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a process of optimizing your web page and its content to acquire the top organic position in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

Simply put, SEO means tweaking your website’s content and UX & UI so that search engine bots can understand and index it conveniently.

How does SEO work?

The working of SEO is pretty straightforward: Optimizing your website in such a manner that makes search engines distinguish your content as the best possible result for the searched query.

This is the driving force behind the success of search engines like Google and the reason it dominates 91% of the search market. That’s also why webmasters focus more on optimizing for Google than Bing, Yahoo, AOL, etc.

Every search engine has a different set of ranking algorithms, and addressing them all in this guide is nearly impossible; therefore, we will focus entirely on Google.

As mentioned above, we only have clues about how Google ranks web pages, but several strategies have proven effective, including keyword research, title tags, heading tags, meta descriptions, link building, etc. All of these are subcategories of the two types of SEO: On page and Off page.

What is On Page SEO?

Search engine optimization practices that are limited to the boundaries of your website is called on-page SEO. Sometimes it is referred to as on-site SEO, and keyword research is an essential part of it. Some of these strategies include:

  • SEO meta data (title tags, alt tags, meta descriptions, URL, etc.)
  • Internal linking
  • Page loading speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Website design

You can learn more about on-page SEO in our detailed on-page SEO guide.

What is Off Page SEO?

Search engine optimization practices that work outside the boundaries of your website is called Off Page SEO. It is about building links and developing a relationship with other websites of the same niche. Some of the off-page strategies include:

  • Link building
  • Social media
  • Forum/blog commenting

You can learn more about Off Page SEO in our detailed Off Page SEO guide.

What is Technical SEO?

The purpose of technical SEO is to make sure that your website is optimized for humans and websites alike. Technical SEO is a part of on-page SEO; however, it only covers its technical aspects. This includes:

  • Page speed optimization
  • UX & UI
  • Sitemaps
  • Robots.txt

You can learn more about Technical SEO in our detailed Technical SEO guide.

What is Local SEO?

Optimizing your online presence and content to rank for relevant local searches and generate more sales is called local SEO. It is not a similar entity to on page, off page, or technical SEO. Don’t get me wrong, local SEO includes all three of these; however, the approach is contrasting. While on page, off page, and technical SEO are done keeping the global audience in mind (or in some cases country-wise), local SEO focuses majorly on the local audience. Based on it, the optimization approach changes. This includes:

  • Local keyword research
  • Google My Business optimization
  • Local citations

To learn more about Local SEO, you can refer to our beginner’s guide to local SEO.

So you see, Search Engines are the mastermind behind the games of SEM and SEO!

Yes, it was the evil mind (yeah well, evil for those who consider it as a pain) of Search Engines that brought forward the concept and necessity of Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine optimization. 
Because of the complexity and the highly qualitative algorithms that Search Engines use for ranking websites, coming on the first page of SERPs is actually a big deal. Plus getting there would imply a lot of targeted traffic. So, this explains the necessity of Search Engine Marketing and optimizing your website to be Search Engine friendly (SEO).
Search Engine Marketing is a process of employing ways for promoting/marketing your website in order to increase its online visibility and traffic. This involves two aspects- Organic and paid. 
Organic involves SEO. SEO is making your site Search Engine friendly. Now, what is Search Engine friendly depends on the parameters that Search Engines use to rank website. Broadly, it can be divided into On-page optimization factors involving content, title tags, keywords, Alt tags, XML sitemaps, site design, meta descriptions etc. Off page factors would include quality backlinking, guest bloggings, forum postings, social media optimization etc.
The other aspect of SEM- paid marketing. Here, you basically buy traffic. There is a bidding on the keywords, whoever quotes the highest price, comes on the top for the results of that particular keyword.

Made a website, but is not showing in the SERPs? Relax! 

If it’s been just a day or two since you made your website and are not appearing on the SERPs, then you might consider submitting your URL to Google (If you haven’t already done).
If you still don’t appear on the SERPs, relax! Google takes some time to crawl and index your website. A website can take anywhere from 24 hours to 8 weeks, depending upon when the website was crawled, the size of the website and indexed by the Search Engine. However, do not expect that your website will show up in the first 10 positions immediately, as it does take anywhere between 3 to 6 months for it to rank on the top on your chosen keywords. 
But, If it’s been a long time since you have made your website and you are not able to rank for the keywords that you want, you are drowning in the sea of unoptimized sites. Don’t worry, RankWatch is there for you.
It’s suite of elegant and unique SEO management features will allow you to get a bird’s eye view on your digital marketing campaign and provide you with actionable data to work on. 
Rank tracking, competitor’s analysis, Backlink Watch, SERP Archive, Keyword suggestions, Hidden opportunity, Automated triggers and a lot of other features will definitely make sure that your website becomes Search Engine friendly.

Feel free to get a demo from us 🙂


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