What Is SEO, Anyway?
Simply put, SEO stands for search engine optimization. But you probably already know that, and it often seems like it’s made up of a bunch of things you can’t really wrap your head around or simply don’t have time to understand. And that’s why we’re here! But we’re also here to educate you. So what exactly is SEO?
At its core, SEO is about answering questions. But of course, it’s a little more nuanced than just that.
See, search engines have one main mission: to provide the best answer to a user’s query. And that answer may naturally vary depending on who the user is. This means that search engines like Google need to be intelligent and consider the following information:
- Who is the user who’s giving the query?
- Where is that user located?
- What interests does the user have?
- How old is the user?
This information tells Google what content is the best to serve up for that particular user’s query. The search engine crawls the web and reads websites to analyze their content and determine the intent behind each page, along with how relevant those pages might be to certain keywords. And once that’s done, it’ll show the user what it believes to be the most relevant content for their query.
So we can amend the previous explanation just slightly: SEO is all about answering questions and answering them better than anyone else.
From your perspective, SEO is the business of anticipating the user queries that relate to your business and providing the best answers to those questions, in the hopes of ranking higher on a search engine result page. There’s a caveat to this, however: Search engines are robots, not people, and need to be able to understand that you’re actually answering these questions on your website.
Google doesn’t tell anyone what exactly its bots are looking for on each webpage, but we can glean some insights based on which websites are floating to the top and which are not, as well as based on the small things that Google does tell us. Coding and organizing a website so it’s more favorable for search engines is important, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of the user experience. Finding this balance is where the real work of SEO is done.
So again, we can amend the previous explanation: SEO is all about answering questions, answering them better than anyone else, and answering them in a way that search engines can understand.
Bottom line: If you do a good job of answering questions and providing your users with a good experience on your website, search engines will reward you by promoting your content.