Why do you get the results that you get when you type a search in Google? The answer is simple: SEO (Picture taken by Cami Toronto, 2020)

What is SEO?

Think of SEO as the Dewey Decimal system for a search engine. The Dewey Decimal System categorizes, organizes, and optimizes libraries for hundreds of thousands of books to maximize a person’s efficiency in locating the book or topic they are researching. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of using organic search engine results to increase both the quantity and quality of traffic going to a webpage. Sound a little overwhelming? Don’t worry, we will cover what all of this means over the course of this article.

First of all, let’s cover some terms and how they apply to SEO: Organic Traffic, Quality of Traffic, and Quantity of Traffic. A lot of websites pay for Google Ads in order to be the top result on a search page. Any clicks generated from ads are defined as Paid Traffic. Organic Traffic is any traffic to your website that you did not pay for. In simple terms, the end goal of any work in SEO is to bring more of the right kind of viewers to your webpage without having to pay for them. You measure each of these features in different ways. You can measure the quality of your site’s traffic by making sure that your website properly addresses the needs of a relevant internet search. Quantity of traffic is increased when people make relevant searches that are correctly directed to your page with increasing quantity.

How Does SEO Work?

Basically, SEO works through programs that search the Internet page-by-page to categorize, gather, and rank pages based on their content and the content’s relevancy. These programs have been dubbed, “crawlers.” Crawlers are crucial to how we use the Internet today, and how each search engine user is able to find what he/she is looking for.

Why is SEO Important?

For example, without SEO and those crawlers gathering information and using said information to generate relevant responses for users, if you were to type in the words “Banana Boat” into Google, you might get a response telling you about where to find fresh produce, what the potassium content is in a banana, or the nearest place to rent a boat. Because we do have SEO, and crawlers have gone through and ranked possible websites for relevancy and quality when you type “Banana Boat” into a search engine, you are able to get the official “Banana Boat” company website, with relevant information about its sunscreen, other products, and their potential uses.

A “Banana Boat” search displays both organic and paid traffic for the Banana Boat Company ranked first (Picture taken by Cami Toronto, 2020)

Search Engine Basics

Search Engines exist to perform 3 primary tasks that in turn define SEO: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking webpages on the Internet. Crawlers go through each Internet page analyzing both the code and content that make up a page. They then organize and store all of this content in the search engine’s database, allowing the crawled page to be searchable. The website is then ranked by its content’s relevancy to various user queries by how well it answers the user’s question and intent.

User intent is the classification of an internet user’s purpose or intent when he/she enters a question, term, or search into a search engine. Keywords are the use of words or phrases to help SEO connect searchers with relevant sites. SEO looks for similarity in keywords from a user’s original search and the webpage it ranks to respond to the search. When user intent is combined with a web page’s use of keywords, website rankings are optimized for the quality of responses for users.

How to Make Your Content SEO Friendly

Your content’s ultimate purpose is to answer a searcher’s question. When you answer their question, you are able to guide them through your site and understand just what your site’s purpose is. Your content should be user friendly, easy to understand, and offer information, graphics, and other features that make your site competitive. When we covered keywords, we discussed how important it is to have them present in your content to help crawlers rank your page highly, but there is a danger of using too many keywords. This is a tactic dubbed as “keyword stuffing.” Keyword Stuffing can ensure that crawlers know what your page is about, but reads as repetitive and can oftentimes lack substance. Crawlers will rank pages that have fewer keywords but do have relevant content higher than pages with more keywords and less content.

What Comes Next?

Now that you have covered the basics of SEO, experiment, do research, and learn more to gain a deeper understanding of the basics! SEO and the digital world are constantly updating and changing, so it pays off to stay up-to-date on the world of technology.


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