You have a question, you are looking for information, or maybe you want to buy something... Where do you turn to get more information on the internet? For most of us, we turn to a search engine, either through our computer, our phone, or maybe even a voice-enable device like Alexa or Google Home.  We do this almost unconsciously now but have you ever thought to think why we trust the results of a search engine? Sure it is the fastest and easiest way to find good information, but how do we know that the information we are getting from the search engine is right, trustworthly, and the best information for a query? The truth is, the results from search engines are merely the result of a bunch of trustworthiness signals measured and returned by a search engine algorithm, that is changing every single day.

The goal of the search engine is to provide you with the best results it can for your query, so that the next time you have a query you turn back to it, for more answers. It is is the best interest of the search engine to return the most relevant and trusted answers it can to keep you as a customer. At the heart of search optimization, your goal is to show the search engine why your content is the best content to return for search queries that are valuable to your business.

Simply, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of organizing and creating content, that you control, in a way that a search engine can understand and share the content of your website with the most relevant searches on each topic. By utilizing SEO practices, you can improve the visibility of a website to help the site gain a better results position on the search engine results page(SERP) and create more natural traffic from the search engine to your website.

Is SEO simple?

Some SEO is simple, but not that easy. Each search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc) has a set of ever-changing standards that define what search engine friendly elements you need on your website to show up in their searches. Search Engine Optimization is the practice of helping search engines find and rank your site's content higher than the millions of other sites in response to a search query by users.

An SEO methodology of techniques, tactics, and strategies help to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine. SEO is used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search engine results page of a search engine (SERP).

The goal of Search Engine Optimization is to optimize your website so that the major search engines rank your site as highly as possible on the results page for the queries you target to rank for. A higher ranking on the SERP leads to a greater volume of qualified traffic. A good SEO professional can help you choose the most effective programs for your needs. There are no shortcuts and better ranking is achieved in weeks and months, not days.

SEO = On-Page SEO + Off-Page SEO Illustration

On-page SEO

On-page optimization refers to website elements that you have control over on your web page, including page code, text content, images, and page load speeds. On-page SEO addresses a variety of fundamental elements (as they relate to SEO) such as page titles, headings, content, content organization, and internal link structure. Examples of on-page optimization include actual HTML code, meta tags, content relevance, keyword placement, and keyword density. On-page SEO is completely under your control and should be your first focus to getting ranked on search engines.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page optimization refers, predominantly, to referral backlinks (links pointing to the site which is being optimized, from other relevant websites). Off-page SEO speaks to your website’s reputation.  The more sites of value that link to your webpages, the more reputable it likely is. Off-page optimization is a more time-consuming process and it can’t be done in a few hours or days. The process can take a few months, and off-page SEO is a never-ending activity. Just like you are looking for ranking with other websites, so likely are your competitors, so you will need to be diligent about keeping your ranking up to continue ranking.

Black Hat vs White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO tactics, techniques, and strategies are those which adhere to guidelines set by the search engines and involve no deception. White Hat SEO wholesomeness level is high. The important characteristics of white hat SEO are that it cannot generate great results for poor quality content. White hat SEO techniques include high-quality content development, website HTML optimization, and restructuring, link acquisition campaigns supported by high-quality content and manual research and outreach. With white hat SEO, you can expect steady, gradual, and lasting growth in rankings.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO uses tricks, schemes, and games to circumvent the algorithmic barriers set up by the search engines to prevent bad content from gaining high rankings in the SERPs. Black Hat SEO wholesomeness level is very low. Black hat SEO is not to be mistaken for plain bad search engine optimization which is the result of either lack of knowledge or cutting corners. With black hat SEO, you can expect quick, unpredictable, and short-lasting growth in rankings.

Bad SEO

Bad SEO is the result of building a website without any plan for SEO. This happens usually through lack of knowledge by a developer or cutting corners during development to save time. Bad SEO is most common with initial builds for companies making their first websites. It is important to be sure Good, White Hat SEO plans are in place before the launch of a new site. Starting off on the right foot with search engines is very important, but don’t worry. If you have bad SEO on your site, it can be corrected, over time, and made up for.