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What Does SEO Stand For? (Beginner’s Guide)

What does SEO stand for
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SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s a fundamental technique used to boost your website’s search ranking. While many beginners struggle with the concept of SEO, this marketing strategy really isn’t rocket science. In this article, we’ll answer the question of what does SEO stand for in more detail, so you understand the basics to improve your website’s ranking


What Does SEO Mean?

SEO is the practice of increasing organic traffic to your website through search engines like Google and Yahoo. Using good SEO practices allows your website to rank higher on search engines, without having to pay for ads.

75% of people won’t read past the first page on Google. This is the very reason ranking on the front page of search engines can bring you more traffic. SEO is free to learn and employ by yourself. However, you can also take various courses or hire SEO experts to help you out.

Search engines want to put the most relevant, informative, and engaging content first. They use algorithms and artificial intelligence to do this. Luckily, using proper SEO, you can understand how to make sure search engines find your valuable content and put it on the front page. So, how does SEO work?


How Does SEO Work?

SEO works using various algorithms and “bots”. Google calls their bots “spiders”, which “crawl” around the internet in search of websites to index. They find webpages and save them in an index, which is essentially a big database.

Google’s algorithms take over from here, examining the webpage to determine how useful and relevant it is to a given search query. It takes into account things like keyword density, how the page is formatted, along with lots of other factors. Google then sorts the webpage accordingly, and that’s how Google (or any other search engine) ranks websites.

This is a simplified version of how SEO works, but the main idea is that webpages rank for specific search queries. Search queries are what you put into the search bar when you’re looking for something. For example, your webpage might rank first for the search query “Buying backlinks for SEO” but is nowhere to be found for search queries like “SEO for beginners”.

Using the Right Keywords

Broad search queries — unspecific search terms that see a lot of search volume and traffic — are generally hard to rank high for. For rookies, narrowing down into specific categories is the way to go. This allows you to reach a target audience and rank higher on search engines at the same time.

“Best camera to buy” is an example of a broad search query. This would be hard to rank for as a beginner, and even as an established website. However, it would be far easier to rank for “best camera to buy for wildlife photography” as long as you have the valuable content to back it up.

Search engines don’t just take your webpage’s title into account. You need to have valuable content behind that title, otherwise your ranking won’t improve. However, on top of providing value, you can employ a few simple SEO strategies to boost your ranking even further.


What Does SEO Take Into Account? (5 Things)

5 things SEO takes into account are:

  1. Keywords
  2. Content length and quality
  3. Backlinks
  4. Website loading speed
  5. Core Web Vitals

1. Keywords

Keywords help emphasise the main point of your article. These words or phrases should be what people type into the search bar, and you target your article towards those queries. Take our example of the best cameras for wildlife photography. If you want people to find your page when they search those words, you need to have those words in your content!

Choosing the right keywords can help you target a certain audience, and narrow down on a particular category or niche. But be careful not to overuse keywords. This is keyword stuffing, which search engines penalise you for in the search rankings. This is a black hat SEO technique, which advanced search engine algorithms identify as spam, dropping your webpage ranking drastically. You can learn more about black hat SEO techniques to avoid in this article.

2. Content Length and Quality

The typical webpage that ranks on the front page of Google has around 2000 words. This doesn’t mean all of your content needs to be 2000 words long. However, short-form content of a few hundred words can’t always explain complex topics in enough detail. So, finding the right balance between the length of your content and its quality is vital.

Algorithms encourage informative, engaging, and original content, that is as beneficial as possible for the reader. A good way to measure quality is to look at your piece from a reader’s perspective. Is it helpful? Is it entertaining? Does it answer your search query? If the answer is no to any of these questions, it’s worth considering how you can improve your post.

3. Backlinks

Backlinks are links from one website to another. These links are vital, as they connect your website to many other websites, usually sites with more authority in your niche. This also helps Google’s spiders crawl your website more frequently, as there are more links in and out of your website.

As a beginner, you should insert outbound links in your content. This involves hyperlinking your text and directing readers on your webpage to other websites. While this may sound like free traffic for the other website, having outbound links to credible websites helps your website build authority. Essentially, you’re showing Google that you’ve done the research, and have used credible sources to find your information.

These are outbound links, but what about backlinks? Well, once you have built a significant audience, with helpful and useful content, people will start backlinking to your website. This can then lead to more traffic to your website!

4. Website Loading Speed

The magic number for website loading speeds is 2 seconds. Google takes it a step further – their aim is under 0.5 seconds. While this may seem like a minor time difference, website loading speeds actually make a huge difference to your search rankings.

According to research by Google, more than 50% of mobile website visitors will click away if a website takes more than three seconds to load. You can check your website’s PageSpeed using a variety of different tools. Google’s free tool is a good place to start.

5. Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are Google’s newest additions to their SEO guidelines, in the hopes of enhancing the user experience (UX) of websites. The Core Web Vitals include three main metrics: loading speeds, website interactivity, and visual compatibility.

Web loading speeds were officially added into the guidelines in a fairly recent update, but people have acknowledged their importance since the birth of SEO.

Website interactivity measures how your website engages the viewer. This could be through using a chatbot, providing games and achievements, and anything else that requires engagement from the user.

Finally, visual compatibility (or stability), is all about shifts in the website layout when displayed on the internet. These issues can arise from incompatible images, disruptive pop-up ads, and even small mistakes in the code of your website. Of course, search engine algorithms prefer websites without these instabilities, so make sure you stay on top of any stability issues.

SEO also covers lots of other factors, like meta descriptions, alt text and even paragraph lengths, but these 5 things are a good place to start if you’re a total beginner. But how should your approach to SEO change depending on what kind of website you have?


What Does SEO Mean for Your Website?

SEO applies to all websites. However, there is a slight difference between SEO for businesses and SEO for blogs. Let’s start with SEO for blogs.

SEO for Blogs

SEO for blogs involves a lot of what we’ve already discussed in this article. Blogs rank well for their content, not necessarily the brand. SEO for blogs is all about how helpful, engaging, and informative the blog content is, along with all the other metrics we discussed earlier.

Essentially, blog posts rank for search queries. When someone types in a question or a topic, blogs usually rank at the number one spot. This makes the focus on having the right headings and ensuring the actual text in your articles matches up with your targeted keyword. Other things like PageSpeed, backlinks and other SEO practices are still important too, but the content is really what matters.

SEO for Businesses

SEO for businesses is a little different. Businesses tend to sell products and services, and it’s not really about the content. People know businesses for their reputation and brand name. Therefore it’s all about building domain authority when it comes to SEO for businesses. Essentially, you want search engines to put your business first, ahead of other businesses in your industry.

As such, SEO for businesses is mainly about targeting the right keywords and getting plenty of backlinks. Your company’s front page can have relatively little content, but it might have a high keyword density. When a potential customer searches for a product or service your business provides, those keywords can help your website rank higher.

Linking is also important. Unless you also post a lot of written content, perhaps in a blog section on your website, keywords on your home and product pages aren’t going to be enough to bring in new customers. You also want to build authority by gaining backlinks on other websites. The more credible people or websites that link to your products, the higher your chances are of ranking closer to the top of the search results.

Your blog and business websites still have a lot in common when it comes to SEO. Factors like PageSpeed, keyword density and providing value to your website’s visitors are essential no matter what kind of website you have.


SEO Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

SEO is an intimidating subject for beginner website creators and freelance writers. However, once you know the basics, you’re really good to go! You can dive deeper into the technical aspects of SEO, but the average blogger doesn’t need to do that. You’ll find more information all about SEO and some of the most important aspects of it over on the Sophical Blog.

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