What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? Concept, Types, Working, Importance, Practices

  • Post last modified:10 August 2023
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  • Post category:Digital Marketing

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the practice of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to a website from search engines through organic search results.

The goal of SEO is to increase the visibility of a website or a specific web page in search engine results pages (SERPs) such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. by optimizing the content and structure of the website in order to make it more attractive to search engines and their algorithms.

Introduction to Search Engines

Search engines are those websites which class or index other websites on the basis of keywords, content and topics through search results. Search engines are used to reach the required information out of thousands of Web pages on the Internet.

The main aim of search engines is to articulate the most relevant results to any particular query. Search engines fulfil the information need of the audience. It is software that are designed to retrieve information on the Web. Search engines collect or crawl data about websites so as to index billions of websites. The results provided for a query are displayed in a line of pages referred to as search engine result page (SERP).

A search engine displays both paid and organic search results. When advertisers pay a price to display their URLs on SERPs, these ads are known as paid search results. On the other hand, organic results are unpaid and natural that drive through search engine optimisation (SEO).

Examples of search engines are Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. Let us now have a look at how search engines work in the upcoming section. Search engines are the most important source for the users to search for the relevant information online.


Working of Search Engines

It is important to understand how search engines map particular keywords to the most relevant content available on the Internet. Search engines perform two key functions, first is crawling and indexing, and second is mapping and serving the most relevant content. Without search engines, it would be very difficult to locate and access content by a common user.

The very first task performed by search engines is Web crawling. Crawling is defined as an identification of the content available on the Internet. Crawling is performed by automated bots, crawlers or spiders, which are software programs that visit each Web page. Crawlers get information about the registered domain names and IP addresses.

Crawling is performed periodically on the basis of webmaster requests as websites keep updating their content. After collecting all the data that has been crawled, search engines index the data that classifies the data of pages into various categories. Indexing is the procedure of submission of Web pages in Google database so that Web pages can be easily found in SERP.

The keywords are used for the identification of categories as they best describe the page. When a user types a search query by typing a keyword, in response to the search query, search engines compare the indexed pages in the database. The search query can be available on more than one page. Therefore, search engines check the relevancy of each page and then place the website with the highest relevance score at the top of search results.


Market Share of Search Engines

Google is considered as the market leader of search engines globally with a share of 71.35%. Baidu is the market leader in China.

Table shows the market share of various search engines in India:

Search EngineMarket Share (in Percentage)
Google97.35
Bing1.68
Yahoo! 0.91
Duck Duck Go 0.04
Baidu0.01
Search Engine Market Share (India)

Concept of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of inducing website visibility or a Web page visibility so as to rank that website higher up in the organic traffic. The main aim of doing SEO is to develop a strong Web presence in order to get quality traffic.

SEO helps in generating leads and revenues for businesses to flourish. SEO improves the quality and volume of traffic on a website. That is the reason brands nowadays invest their tremendous amount of time to create keyword-oriented content. Marketers gain an insight into the intent of customers with the help of keywords they typed in the search bar.

These keywords capture user’s interest. Therefore, SEO is a long-term strategy of optimising the content of a website, blog, portal, etc., with a specific set of keywords. SEO starts right from the development of a website and it requires continuous efforts and techniques to make the content much more search engine friendly.

The process of performing SEO starts with a website audit in terms of understanding SEO efforts performed in a website. One needs to understand the site health, security, social media conversions. After knowing the level of SEO employed in a website, the organisation performs the best practices of search engines in order to improve the visibility.

SEO is of the following two types:

On-Page SEO

It is the easiest type of SEO as marketers just need to improve the content of their website with the help of coding. Hence, this is within the control of marketers. It involves all the activities that can be performed on the Web pages. Key activities of on-page SEO are keyword research, meta tag management, optimising quality content, interlinking of Web pages, etc.

Off-Page SEO

It involves all the activities that are executed outside Web pages. For example, building backlinks through social submissions across social media channels, improving link popularity in directories, guest blogging, etc. This is done to increase reach and engagemen.


Importance of SEO

SEO enables a website to appear on the top of a search engine. It is an ongoingtask that does not provide instantaneous results. It provides various benefits in the long run as it is a cost-effective strategy to appear on the topon SERP. SEO drives organic traffic on a website because SEO is a pull medium.Hence, the results are credible. SEO facilitates a user-friendly website that fosters brand awareness and engagement.

SEO is an important tool to create a positive Web presence to get the business discovered on the Web. It facilitates quality leads and traffic on a website that helps a business grow.


What is Google Algorithm?

Google algorithms are specific metrics that determine the ranking of Web pages. Google ranking system is made of a plethora of algorithms that are employed to provide useful information results. Google algorithm performs the sorting function through hundreds of billions of websites in the Google Search Index.

Google algorithms retrieve data from search index to provide relevant results when a user asks for a search query on Google. Algorithms seek out various factors, such as keywords, location, the intent behind the query, usability and the relevancy of pages.

Every month, Google announces several updates in its algorithm to provide much more relevant results to the users. Application of SEO helps in dealing with the algorithms. For instance, for off-page SEO, only natural backlinks are counted for ranking purpose. Therefore, it is important for marketers to know the basics of Google algorithm so as to develop a strong and effective SEO strategy.


What is Google Results Page?

Google result pages are the pages shown by Google in response to a search query. The result page shows two types of response – first is organic links which are retrieved by Google algorithms and other is sponsored search result which is online advertisement.

Every result on the result page involves a title, a hyperlink to the actual Web page and a short meta description displaying where the query keywords are matched with the content of the page. For a single search query, there are several result pages fetched. But every succeeding page has lower relevancy results and lower ranking.


Working of Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) depends upon the understanding of marketers about the user’s search intent on search engines and then develop strategies accordingly to derive valuable traffic on a website. It is important to develop original, relevant and high-quality content to ensure effective SEO as such content is easily discoverable by search engines.


What is On-Page SEO?

On-Page SEO is the process in which marketers develop or modify their websites’ architecture and content on the basis of the search engine algorithm. On-page SEO ensures the involvement of popular keywords in the content of your website.

Therefore, on-page SEO is about picking the right keywords and making it clear to search engines that your Web page includes those keywords. All the technical elements of a website need to be in place in order to build a strong SEO strategy. There are various on-page optimisation practices that affect search engine rankings. These are discussed in the following sub-sections.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is pivotal to identify keywords that users type to search for products, services or company-related topics on Web. Keywords are key phrases that users type on search engines for a search query. One of the best SEO practices is to include keywords across the content inclusive of title and description tag. Keywords help identify the characteristics, intent, needs and search behaviour of visitors.

Search algorithms are smart enough to catch the overstuffed keyword content, which is known as keyword abuse. Therefore, the volume of keyword density should make relevant sense rather than including keywords just for the sake of ranking purposes. Content with valuable and relevant keywords’ inclusion is important. Also, tactics like keyword placement and prominence are valuable for marketers.

A good amount of research should be employed to know the userquery relevant keywords. There are various tools available that can help in the selection of keywords and prioritising them to get visibility on SERP.

Some of these tools are as follows:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Google Trends
  • Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence
  • Google Suggest
  • Wordtracker’s Keyword Demand

The following factors should be kept in consideration while choosing the keywords:

  • Involve user’s perspective in keywords

  • Use long-tail keywords

  • Improve user experience by developing simple and engaging content

  • Share relevant and helpful infographic

  • Abnormal high keyword density should not be done as it is considered as spam, and, hence, the website will be devalued and appear lower in SERP

HTML Tags

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a commonly-used mark-up language to create Web pages. It uses various tags that Web browsers can read and process the code to display structured websites on one’s screen. Meta tags are HTML components that are added in the website’s HTML coding of a Web page. Meta tags are the nameplate of a Web page.

Let us understand the important tags used in SEO in detail:

Meta Tags

There are three components of meta tags, which are as follows:

Meta Title

While performing coding for any HTML document, title tags are used for the page titles. Page title precisely describes the topic of Web page and they are visible on the browser’s tab. Title tags are denoted by ‘<title>’ and are placed within the scope of the <head> tag.

Every page has a unique title on a website. Page titles are used in the snippets on SERP. Therefore, short and informative titles should be used.

Meta Keywords

These are words or phrases that are employed to define the Web page’s content by providing a bunch of keywords or tags particular to that website’s content. Many search engines, such as Yahoo!,Google, etc., charge a penalty against abusing its use. One should include keywords in all HTML and meta tags, such as description tag, title tag,alt tag and URL.

Meta Description

It is the summary of a Web page that is displayed on the SERP. It is generally written in two or three sentences in a precise form. Ideally, the word limit for writing Meta description is 150 characters. It has been used a as snippet on SERP by search engines.

In case, when search engine is unable to find appropriate text portion to use as a snippet, it takes the snippet content from the Web page content.

Heading Tags

It helps define the page structure and allows a user to mapa page quickly. The “H1” tag has been used widely to start a page followed by other heading tags. A maximum of six heading tags can be used.

These tags are used within the scope of the<body> tag of an HTML page, whereas me tatags and page title are placed within the scope of the <head> tag.

Website Structure

Website structuring involves the understanding of how a website is set up and how sub-pages are hyperlinked. A website should be properly structured so that crawlers and spiders can find the website quickly. Let us understand some important elements of a site structure as follows:

Breadcrumbs

A breadcrumb is a list or path of internal links within hierarchical navigation which is often located at the top of the page. Websites with excessive content use breadcrumb navigation.

Breadcrumbs are clickable and one can easily navigate back to the previous section in any website. It is a secondary navigation scheme. Most e-commerce websites use breadcrumb navigation.

URLs

The URLs or domain names create the first impression in the minds of users about the topic of a Web page even before they explore the website. URLs or domain names motivate the users to click on a Web page. It is recommended to use familiar and descriptive words in the URLs. Hyphens(-) are used to separate words.

For example:

  • www.example.com/OffPage.html
  • www.example.com/off-page-Optimization.html

Internal Linking

Internal linking is important for a website’s architecture. It fosters the relationship between various Web pages on a website. Internal links refer to those hyperlinks that go from one page to another on the same domain name.

These links provide further reading options to visitors. The bounce rate of a website decreases with internal linking.

Content Optimisation

On-page SEO is all about optimising website content. Content is the king of Search Engine Optimisation. Both content quality and content quantity affect the SEO. Optimising content that is genuinely useful for the audience is a good SEO practice.

Content development for blogs, landing page, etc., play an important role in driving traffic to a website. In order to rank higher on a search engine, guidelines and algorithms of search engines on how to create content should be properly understood.

Content that is easy to read and understand should be published on a website. Nowadays, marketers also include various rich media, such as infographics, videos and images on a website in order to attract traffic on a website. Therefore, content that is creative, engaging and easy to read should be used in a website.

SEO for Images

The Alt tag, which is defined as an alternate tag, is used for image optimisation as it describes what an image is all about. It is always advisable to optimise images that are less than 2 KB on the homepage or landing page of a website.

Images should be of high quality. Images that are relevant to the content of the Web page should be optimised. Image optimisation is an important element of a technical SEO. There are various tools available for optimising images on a website.

Some of which are as follows:

  • Optimizilla
  • Compressnow
  • JPEG Optimiser
  • ImageOptim
  • Kraken.io

What is Off-page SEO?

With the advent of Webmaster, off-page SEO came into emergence. It includes all the activities that are performed outside the website. Off-page SEO is all about gaining backlinks and traffic to your website from other domains.

It focusses on the relationship between your domain and other domains available on the Web. Getting your website hyperlinked on other domains is known as backlinks. Having many backlinks makes it clear to the search engines that your content is useful for the audience. Off-page optimisation plays a prominent role in search engine ranking. Therefore, it is important to study all the offpage factors that affect the ranking of a website.

Backlinks

High-quality backlinks are important to get a high ranking on SERP. It involves the process of getting hyperlinks from external Web pages. It aids in developing the authority of the website. Each backlink is an ‘editorial endorsement’ of a website. Every marketer tries to get maximum mentions or backlinks on the Web to get better ranking on SERP. One mention is equal to one backlink. There are two types of backlinks.

One is high-quality backlinks and other is low-quality backlinks which are easy to get. The differentiating factor is the quality of a backlink. Let us understand the quality factor of a backlink.

The quality of a backlink depends on the origin of the backlink. Backlinks come from reliable and trustworthy websites, such as Wikipedia and The Hindu, which are good for ranking. It is one of the challenging tasks in SEO to get high-quality backlinks. Having backlinks from different trustworthy websites rather than having backlinksfrom just a few websites affects the SEO ranking positively.

It is better to get 50backlinks from different domains instead of having 50 backlinks from a single website. Getting all the backlinks from one source would not be beneficial for SEO because this case will be considered as biased and unethical.

Blog Posts and Commenting

Blogs are informational websites. Nowadays, websites also have separate Web pages for blogs in order to drive traffic to their websites. Content is the most important aspect of SEO. Blogs can help in boosting search engine ranking.

Customers also comment on the blog section and leave their link which can be counted as a backlink. One can also use other platforms like Quora to create backlinks by answering questions related to his or her line of business.

Directories Mentions

Directories are databases or lists of websites in a defined category. There are various websites that provide online directories such as directorycritic.com. Marketers submit their website links on such websites to get a mention on the Web.

The rejection rate in the directories is 95%, and there is also a long waiting period for review. Getting mentions on reputed directories aid in building authority on the Internet. There are both paid and free Web listing available in the market.

Article Promotion and Syndication

Every organisation writes articles and submits them on article submission websites in order to get a backlink. Articles that are submitted have an author bio at the end with the link to their website. It is a good practice to submit at least five articles in a week.

There are various article submission websites, such as ezinearticle.com that offer a high-quality backlink. Syndication is the process of distributing Web content to many other websites. Posting the same content on more than two different websites is the case of syndication.

Content could be part of an article or a whole article. Websites with high authority are recommended for syndication. Businesses avoid syndicating all their content to negate duplicity. Examples of sites that are good for syndicating are bookmarking sites such as Reddit and Digg.

Press Release

When an organisation’s news and information are communicated via news media, it is known as Press Release (PR). PR involves new product announcements or any other recent update, etc. PR activities are performed online. Many websites have a separate Web page for PR mentions.

PR submissions are also done by marketers in a hope to get a backlink. Websites like PRNewswire, Bloomberg and Press Trust of India (PTI) optimise and distribute your press releases. Apart from stated factors, a marketer can do guest posting, and submit videos on YouTube, Vimeo or Daily motion. Social media submissions can be done to create visibility.

Both on-page and off-page optimisation play a crucial role in SERP ranking. Technical SEO that involves the page speed, loading time, keyword-rich domain names and errors like 404 should be considered critically to foster positive user experience.


Best SEO Practices

One needs to understand the basics of White hat SEO and Black hat SEO in order to facilitate efforts that are beneficial for SEOs. Black hat SEO involves activities that search engines find manipulative and unethical. Also, such activities violate the guidelines of Webmaster. Black hat SEO includes getting paid links, keyword stuffing, cloaked pages, etc.

Companies that employ Black hat SEO get penalised, while on the other hand, White hat SEO involves the techniques that follow the guidelines of Webmaster. Websites using White hat SEO possess authority and superiority in their domain name.

The best SEO practice is to follow White hat SEO activities which involve real and good quality content optimisation, Web pages created with customer perspective rather than search engines. Although White hat SEO takes time, but it provides a better ranking status.

The following are some tips to foster White hat SEO:

  • Use a domain name similar to your brand name
  • Create a Wikipedia page
  • Do a lot of PR submissions in favour of your brand
  • Avoid paying for backlinks
  • Do not overstuff images on Homepage
  • Use primary keywords in H1 and H2 tags
  • Try to include primary keywords in the first 100 words
  • Boost site-loading time
  • Share relevant and helpful infographics

SEO Audits and Analytics

SEO audits and analytics can be done by various tools. Most of the tools are free. However, advanced features are paid. The following are some useful tools to perform SEO audits and analytics:

  • www.seositecheckup.com: It assesses the website search engine optimisation perspective. It offers a detailed report and scoring that can help web masters improve their rankings in search engines.

  • Google Search Console (formerly known as Google WebMaster): It is one of the most important tools to keep a track of allSEO-related activities. It is a free service provided by Google to evaluate any website performance in search results.

  • SEMrush: It is one of the most widely adopted tools that are unpaid to some extent. Advanced services are paid. This tool is used for keyword research and SEO audit. It is an ‘All-in-One’ competitive analysis tool.

  • SimilarWeb: This tool is beneficial for competitive analysis. It analyses any website or application in terms of ranking, traffic sources, keyword ranking, etc.

Uber suggest, MOZ, Pingdom and GTmatrix are the tools used to spy your competitor’s SEO efforts. Pingdom checks the performance of any website. These tools provide insights into traffic, engagement, bounce rate, page visits, keyword ranking, etc.


Emerging Trends in SEO

With technological advancements and dynamic digital environment, it has become very important for marketers and businesses to keep themselves updated. SEO also is evolving with the emergence of voice search, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Today, customers are searching for postcards or videos. In order to create visibility and engagement, brands are going where their potential customers are searching. Nowadays, companies are planning for voice search SEO and machine learning. Spoken queries are common these days with smartphones.

In 2018, Google announced its mobile-first indexing. Google ranked the websites on the basis of the quality of the users’ experience on mobile phones. Therefore, it is also important for marketers to gain an insight into mobile SEO. A mobile-friendly version of a website is a must-have for every brand.

It is also essential to know the basics of Amazon search optimisation because in the upcoming years, there has been a tremendous growth in Amazon search optimisation. When it comes to actual purchase making, Amazon is the prominent choice of users. Therefore, learning Amazon search optimisation is important for marketers.

Every marketer and every business follow users’ search queries and the platforms that users are using for making search queries. It has become quintessential to know the nitty-gritty of search engines, website content optimisation, mobile SEO and other upcoming trends in SEO, such as voice searches.

Article Source
  • Henneberry, R. (2021). The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing | DigitalMarketer. Retrieved 14 May 2021, from https://www.digitalmarketer.com/digital-marketing/

  • Kunwar, P. (2012). Search Engine Optimisation. DELHI: Pustak mahal.

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