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What Is SEO – Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine marketing stands for “seo.” In simple phrases, search engine optimization method the procedure of enhancing your website to increase its visibility in Google, Microsoft Bing, and other search engines every time humans look for:


Products you sell.
Services you provide.
Information on topics in which you have deep know-how and/or revel in.
The better visibility your pages have in seek consequences, the more likely you are to be discovered and clicked on. Ultimately, the purpose of seo is to help attract website visitors who becomes clients, customers or an target market that maintains coming back.


What you’ll research on this manual:

How SEO differs from SEM and PPC
Why SEO is important
search engine optimization kinds and specializations
How search engine marketing works
How to study SEO
How is SEO unique from SEM and PPC?
SEM and PPC are different common phrases you will read about loads here on Search Engine Land and hear approximately inside the larger search advertising and marketing community.


Read directly to learn more about both of those phrases and the way they’re related to search engine marketing.

Search engine marketing vs. SEM
SEM stands for seek engine advertising – or, as it is extra typically recognised, seek advertising and marketing.

Search advertising and marketing is a sort of digital marketing. It is an umbrella time period for the aggregate of search engine optimization and PPC activities meant to power visitors via organic search and paid search.


Put truely, seek advertising and marketing is the method of gaining visitors and visibility from search engines like google via each paid and unpaid efforts.

So how do search engine optimization and SEM range? Technically they aren’t extraordinary – search engine marketing is in reality one-half of SEM:

SEO = driving natural visitors from search engines like google.
SEM = using organic and paid traffic from serps.
Now, that is in which things get a chunk puzzling.


Today, many people use SEM interchangeably with PPC (which we’ll talk about in the subsequent section).

This concept seems to undercut search engine marketing. However, search engine optimization is advertising and marketing, similar to PPC is advertising and marketing.

Here’s the exceptional manner to reflect onconsideration on search engine marketing and SEM:

Imagine SEM is a coin. Search engine marketing is one facet of that coin. PPC is on the turn side.


PPC stands for pay-consistent with-click – a type of digital advertising where advertisers are charged every time one in every of their ads gets clicked on.

Basically, advertisers bid on precise key phrases or phrases that they need their commercials to seem for inside the search engine outcomes. When a consumer searches for one of those keywords or terms, the advertiser’s advert will seem a few of the pinnacle consequences.

So again, if we consider seek marketing as a coin, search engine marketing and PPC are sides of the equal coin – search engine marketing is the unpaid facet, PPC is the paid facet.


Another key point: it’s critical by no means to think about it as “search engine marketing vs. PPC” (i.E., which one is better) because these are complementary channels. It’s not an both-or query – constantly pick out each (as long as your price range allows it).

As we cited earlier than, the phrases SEM and PPC are used in the industry interchangeably. However, that isn’t the case right here on Search Engine Land.

Whenever we point out “SEM,” it’ll be because we’re relating to each search engine optimization (natural search) and PPC (paid seek).


If you’re curious approximately the records at the back of how “SEM” got here to mean “PPC” at the exclusion of SEO, you can dig deeper into these articles:

How Wikipedia Turned PPC / Paid Search Into SEM
Does SEM = search engine marketing + CPC Still Add Up?
Why is SEO critical?
SEO is a essential advertising channel. First, and primary: organic seek grants 53% of all website site visitors.


That’s one massive cause why the global search engine marketing enterprise is forecast to reach a remarkable $122.11 billion by using 2028. Search engine marketing drives actual enterprise effects for manufacturers, groups and corporations of all sizes.

Whenever humans need to move somewhere, do some thing, locate information, studies or buy a product/provider – their journey normally starts with a search.


But nowadays, search is pretty fragmented. Users can also search on conventional internet search engines like google and yahoo (e.G., Google, Microsoft Bing), social structures (e.G., YouTube, TikTok) or retailer web sites (e.G., Amazon).

In reality, sixty one% of U.S. on line shoppers begin their product seek on Amazon, in comparison to forty nine% who begin on a search engine like Google. Also of word from that equal research:


32% begin on Walmart.Com.
20% start on YouTube.
19% start on Facebook.
15% begin on Instagram.
Eleven% start on TikTok.
Trillions of searches are conducted every 12 months. Search is frequently the number one supply of traffic for websites, which makes it critical to be “seek engine friendly” on any platform wherein humans can search for your brand or business.


What this all approach is that improving your visibility, and ranking better in search effects than your opposition, can positively impact your bottom line,

search engine marketing is also tremendously vital because the quest engine outcomes pages (or SERPs) are superb aggressive – packed with search functions (and PPC ads). SERP functions encompass:


Knowledge panels.
Featured snippets.
Top stories (news).
People Also Ask.
Another purpose search engine marketing is essential for brands and agencies: not like different advertising channels, proper SEO paintings is sustainable. When a paid campaign ends, so does the visitors. Traffic from social media site visitors is at nice unreliable – and a fraction of what it as soon as turned into.


Search engine optimization is the muse of holistic marketing, where the entirety your corporation does subjects. Once you recognize what your customers want, you may then implement that know-how throughout your:

Campaigns (paid and natural).
Website content material.
Social media residences.
SEO is a channel that drives the traffic you need to achieve key enterprise dreams (e.G., conversions, visits, income). It also builds accept as true with – a internet site that ranks well is usually regarded as authoritative or trustworthy, which can be key factors Google desires to praise with better scores.


Types of SEO
There are 3 sorts of search engine marketing:

Technical search engine optimization: Optimizing the technical aspects of a website.
On-site search engine optimization: Optimizing the content material on a website for users and search engines.
Off-website online SEO: Creating emblem property (e.G., ​​people, marks, values, vision, slogans, catchphrases, shades) and doing things as a way to ultimately enhance logo consciousness and reputation (i.E., demonstrating and developing its know-how, authority and trustworthiness) and demand era.
You hold 100% control over content material and technical optimizations. That’s no longer continually actual with off-website (you can’t control hyperlinks from different websites or if structures you rely upon come to be shutting down or making a major exchange), but those activities are nevertheless a key part of this SEO trinity of fulfillment.


Imagine SEO as a sports team. You want each a sturdy offense and defense to win – and you want lovers (a.Ok.A., an audience). Think of technical optimization as your protection, content optimization as your offense, and off-website online optimization as ways to attract, engage and keep a devoted fanbase.


Technical optimization
Optimizing the technical factors of a website is crucial and fundamental for search engine marketing fulfillment.

It all begins with structure – growing a website that can be crawled and indexed by way of search engines. As Gary Illyes, Google’s traits analyst, as soon as placed it in a Reddit AMA: “MAKE THAT DAMN SITE CRAWLABLE.”


You want to make it clean for engines like google to discover and access all the content material on your pages (i.E., textual content, snap shots, movies). What technical elements rely right here: URL structure, navigation, inner linking, and more.

Experience is likewise a essential element of technical optimization. Search engines strain the importance of pages that load speedy and provide an amazing person revel in. Elements inclusive of Core Web Vitals, cellular-friendliness and value, HTTPS, and fending off intrusive interstitials all rely in technical search engine marketing.


Another region of technical optimization is established statistics (a.Ok.A., schema). Adding this code for your internet site can help search engines like google and yahoo better apprehend your content material and enhance your appearance within the search consequences.

Plus, web website hosting offerings, CMS (content material control device) and placement safety all play a position in search engine marketing.


Content optimization
In search engine optimization, your content material wishes to be optimized for two primary audiences: human beings and engines like google. What this means is that you optimize the content your target market will see (what’s genuinely at the web page) as well as what search engines like google will see (the code).

The intention, always, is to publish useful, top notch content material. You can do that through a aggregate of expertise your target audience’s needs and wants, records and steering supplied with the aid of Google.


When optimizing content for human beings, you must make certain it:

Covers applicable topics with that you have enjoy or know-how.
Includes keywords people might use to locate the content material.
Is particular or original.
Is nicely-written and freed from grammatical and spelling errors.
Is up to date, containing correct information.
Includes multimedia (e.G., images, motion pictures).
Is higher than your SERP competition.
Is readable – structured to make it clean for human beings to understand the facts you’re sharing (think: subheadings, paragraph duration, use bolding/italics, ordered/unordered lists, studying stage, and so on.).
For search engines like google, some key content material factors to optimize for are:


Title tags
Meta description
Header tags (H1-H6)
Image alt textual content
Open graph and Twitter Cards metadata
Off-website optimization
There are several sports that might not be “search engine marketing” inside the strictest sense, however although can align with and help make a contribution circuitously to search engine optimization achievement.


Link constructing (the system of acquiring hyperlinks to a website) is the activity most related to off-site search engine marketing. There may be amazing benefits (e.G., ratings, visitors) from getting a various quantity of links pointing at your internet site from relevant, authoritative, relied on websites. Link pleasant beats link quantity – and a massive quantity of great hyperlinks is the purpose.


And how do you get those links? There are an expansion of internet site promoting methods that synergize with SEO efforts. These encompass:

Brand constructing and emblem advertising and marketing: Techniques designed to enhance recognition and reputation.
PR: Public relations strategies designed to earn editorially-given links.
Content advertising and marketing: Some popular paperwork include growing films, ebooks, research studies, podcasts (or being a visitor on different podcasts) and guest posting (or visitor running a blog).

Social media marketing and optimization: Claim your emblem’s cope with on any and all applicable systems, optimize it fully and share relevant content.
Listing management: Claiming, verifying and optimizing the statistics on any systems where statistics approximately your enterprise or website may be listed and found by way of searchers (e.G., directories, evaluation websites, wikis).
Ratings and opinions: Getting them, tracking them and responding to them.
Generally, when talking approximately off-website, you’re speaking about sports that aren’t going to without delay effect your capacity to rank from a in simple terms technical perspective.


However, again, the whole thing your emblem does matters. You need your brand to be located anywhere people may additionally search for you. As such, some humans have attempted to rebrand “search engine optimization” to surely imply “search enjoy optimization” or “seek everywhere optimization.”


SEO specialties
Search engine optimization additionally has a few subgenres. Each of those uniqueness regions isn’t the same as “everyday search engine optimization” in its very own manner, commonly requiring additional procedures and presenting one-of-a-kind demanding situations.


Five such SEO specialties include:

Ecommerce SEO: Additional search engine marketing factors encompass optimizing category pages, product pages, faceted navigation, inner linking structures, product photos, product opinions, schema and more.

Enterprise search engine optimization: This is SEO on a large scale. Typically this means handling a website (or more than one websites/manufacturers) with 1 million+ pages – or it is able to be based on the dimensions of the company (generally those making thousands and thousands or billions in revenue according to year). Doing organization additionally commonly means delays trying to get search engine optimization modifications implemented by the dev group, as well as the involvement of multiple stakeholders.

International search engine optimization: This is global search engine optimization for worldwide corporations – doing search engine optimization for multiregional or multilingual web sites – and optimizing for worldwide search engines like google and yahoo which includes Baidu or Naver.
Local search engine marketing: Here, the goal is to optimize websites for visibility in neighborhood organic search engine outcomes by way of dealing with and obtaining critiques and enterprise listings, amongst others.

News search engine marketing: With news, pace is of extreme significance – especially ensuring you get into Google’s index as speedy as feasible and seem in places along with Google Discover, Google’s Top Stories and Google News. There’s a need to understand first-class practices for paywalls, section pages, news-unique established facts, and greater.

How does SEO work?
If you observed this page via Google search, you likely searched Google for [what is seo] or [seo].

This manual is published on Search Engine Land, an authoritative website with remarkable knowledge on and experience inside the subject matter of SEO (we’ve been masking all search engine marketing changes, big and small given that 2006).


Originally published in 2010, our “what’s SEO” page has earned a whopping 324,203 links.

Put genuinely, these elements (and others) have helped this guide earn a good recognition with search engines like google, which has helped it rank in Position 1 for years. It has gathered alerts that show it’s far authoritative and sincere – and consequently merits to rank when someone searches for search engine optimization.


But allow’s have a look at search engine optimization more widely. As an entire, search engine marketing without a doubt works thru a mixture of:

People: The person or group chargeable for doing or making sure that the strategic, tactical and operational search engine marketing work is completed.
Processes: The actions taken to make the work greater green.
Technology: The platforms and gear used.
Activities: The cease product, or output.
Many other matters component into how search engine marketing works. What follows is a excessive-level take a look at the most critical know-how and manner elements.


Six vital regions, in combination, make search engine optimization paintings:

1. Understanding how search engines paintings
Simply, if you want humans to discover your enterprise via seek – on any platform – you need to recognize the technical tactics in the back of how the engine works – after which make sure you are providing all the proper “alerts” to persuade that visibility.


When speaking approximately traditional web serps like Google, there are 4 separate levels of search:

Crawling: Search engines use crawlers to discover pages on the net by means of following hyperlinks and the use of sitemaps.
Rendering: Search engines generate how the page will appearance using HTML, JavaScript and CSS facts.
Indexing: Search engines analyze the content and metadata of the pages it has found and add them to a database (even though there’s no guarantee every web page in your internet site will be indexed).

Ranking: Complex algorithms study a selection of alerts to decide whether or not a web page is applicable and of high-sufficient great to show when searchers input a question.
But optimizing for Google seek isn’t the same as optimizing for search other structures like YouTube or Amazon.

Let’s take Facebook, as an example, wherein factors inclusive of engagement (Likes, remarks, stocks, and so on.) and who human beings are connected to matter. Then, on Twitter, signals like recency, interactions, or the writer’s credibility are vital.


And further complicating matters: search engines like google and yahoo have brought device learning factors with a purpose to floor content – making it even more difficult to mention “this” or “that” resulted in better or worse performance.

2. Researching
Research is a key a part of SEO. Some forms of studies with a view to improve search engine optimization overall performance include:

Audience research: It’s important to understand your audience or market. Who are they (i.E., their demographics and psychographics)? What are their pain points? What questions do they have got that you may solution?

Keyword research: This manner facilitates you become aware of and include relevant and precious seek phrases human beings use into your pages – and recognize how lots demand and opposition there’s to rank for these key phrases.

Competitor research: What are your competition doing? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What varieties of content are they publishing?
Brand/business/customer research: What are their desires – and the way can search engine marketing assist them gain the ones goals?
Website research: A style of SEO audits can discover possibilities and troubles on a website that are preventing success in natural seek. Some audits to bear in mind: technical search engine optimization, content, link profile and E-E-A-T.

SERP evaluation: This will assist you understand the hunt intent for a given question (e.G., is it commercial, transactional, informational or navigational) and create content that is more likely to earn ratings or visibility.
3. Planning
An search engine marketing strategy is your lengthy-time period movement plan. You want to set goals – and a plan for a way you may reach them.

Think of it your SEO approach as a roadmap. The path you’re taking probable will exchange and evolve over time – however the destination need to continue to be clean and unchanged.


Your search engine marketing plan might also consist of matters along with:

Setting dreams (e.G., OKRs, SMART) and expectations (i.E., timelines/milestones).
Defining and aligning significant KPIs and metrics.
Deciding how projects will be created and applied (inner, external or a combination).
Coordinating and communicating with internal and external stakeholders.
Choosing and implementing equipment/generation.
Hiring, schooling and structuring a team.
Setting a price range.

Measuring and reporting on effects.
Documenting the approach and technique.
4. Creating and enforcing
Once all of the studies is finished, it’s time to turn ideas into movement. That means:


Creating new content: Advising your content team on what content needs to be created.
Recommending or imposing changes or improvements to existing pages: This should include updating and enhancing the content material, adding internal links, incorporating keywords/topics/entities, or figuring out other ways to optimize it in addition.
Removing vintage, previous or low-fine content material: The sorts of content that aren’t rating properly, using converting site visitors or supporting you gain your search engine optimization dreams.

5. Monitoring and retaining
You want to know whilst some thing goes wrong or breaks for your internet site. Monitoring is important.

You need to recognize if visitors drops to a crucial web page, pages come to be gradual, unresponsive or fall out of the index, your complete internet site goes offline, hyperlinks spoil, or some other range of potential catastrophic problems.


6. Analyzing, assessing and reporting on overall performance
If you don’t measure search engine marketing, you can’t enhance it. To make information-pushed selections approximately search engine marketing, you’ll want to apply:

Website analytics: Set up and use gear (at minimal, unfastened gear which include Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools) to gather performance statistics.

Tools and structures: There are many “all-in-one” systems (or suites) that offer more than one equipment, however you may additionally choose to use most effective select search engine marketing tools to track performance on precise responsibilities. Or, if you have the assets and not one of the tools on the market do precisely what you want, you could make your personal equipment.
After you’ve collected the facts, you’ll need to document on progress. You can create reviews the usage of software or manually.


Performance reporting need to inform a tale and be finished at meaningful time durations, typically comparing to preceding record periods (e.G., yr over 12 months). This will depend on the sort of website (generally, this could be month-to-month, quarterly, or some different c programming language),

search engine marketing is ongoing
search engine marketing by no means ends. Search engines, person behavior and your competition are constantly changing. Websites trade and circulate (and break) over time. Content gets stale. Your techniques need to enhance and emerge as extra green.


Bottom line: There’s continually something you may be tracking, checking out or improving. Or, as Bruce Clay positioned it: search engine marketing will only be accomplished whilst Google stops converting matters and all of your opposition dies.


How to research search engine optimization
Now that you understand greater about what SEO is and how it works – how can you learn greater?

Reading (or, if you choose, watching or being attentive to) the trendy SEO information, research, great practices and different tendencies must come to be one among your regular behavior, whether it’s every day, weekly or month-to-month. You ought to additionally put money into attending at least one or two events in keeping with year.


The expectations and behavior of searchers are constantly evolving, which means that algorithms are continuously changing to preserve up. That, in aggregate with new breakthroughs in generation (look no in addition than the explosive rise of ChatGPT in past due 2022 and the surprising addition of generative AI to go looking consequences in 2023).


Here are a few trusted resources and pointers to help you develop as an search engine optimization expert.

Search Engine Land’s SEO assets
Search Engine Land has been masking search engine optimization since 2006. In addition to information testimonies written through our editorial personnel, Search Engine Land publishes contributed articles from a various organization of challenge count professionals proposing useful search engine optimization tips, procedures, traits and analysis.


We’re biased, but we fairly endorse you sign up to get hold of Search Engine Land’s loose email newsletter providing a roundup of the brand new search engine optimization information, and insights each weekday.

Search Engine Land also has multiple categories on subjects devoted to specific areas and structures which you can find helpful:


All search engine optimization
Bing search engine marketing
Content SEO
Ecommerce search engine optimization
Enterprise search engine optimization
Google: E-E-A-T
Google algorithm updates
Google Search Console
Google seek functions
Link constructing
Local SEO
News search engine optimization
Technical SEO
Search Engine Land’s Guide To search engine marketing
(Editor’s Note: We are presently updating this manual, with the purpose of having the chapters absolutely up to date in the first sector of 2024.)


Search Engine Land’s Guide To search engine marketing walks you via the basics of optimizing for search so you can expand a strong approach to pressure organic traffic for your website.


Our guide explains these factors in greater intensity, and highlights tactical pointers from specialists on search engine optimization to be able to assist your website get more visitors from organic search.


Chapter 1: Types of Search Engine Success Factors: These are the on- and off-web page factors that could have an effect on your search ratings. We’ll additionally take a look at area of interest verticals in search engine marketing and poisonous search engine optimization processes to avoid.
Chapter 2: Content & Search Engine Success Factors: Keep those factors in thoughts to create exquisite content material that search engines like google and yahoo and your goal audiences will love.

Chapter 3: Site Architecture & Search Engine Success Factors: Let’s pass backstage and examine the elements of your web page that make it clean for engines like google to get entry to and affect consumer enjoy.
Chapter four: HTML Code & Search Engine Success Factors: HTML tags and established statistics help arrange data on your website online and assist search engines like google and yahoo apprehend your content.

Chapter 5: Trust, Authority, Expertise & Search Rankings: How your customers engage along with your site, as well as its recognition and authority, facilitates search engines like google and yahoo decide if it’s worth of showing to users.
Chapter 6: Link Building & Ranking In Search Engines: Why inbound links are nonetheless vital and what they inform search engines like google and yahoo about your content material.

Chapter 7: Personalization & Search Engine Rankings: These are the consumer-unique factors, along with region and cause, that could have an effect on the results customers see.
Chapter eight: Toxins & Search Engine Spam Penalties: Beware of search engine marketing “shortcuts.” Getting stuck the use of those strategies can potentially result in a guide action penalty or maybe get your website delisted from the search index.

Chapter 9: Emerging Verticals in Search: Voice, neighborhood, image and video seek represent new ways for users to find what they’re looking for. While they each offer nuanced possibilities for manufacturers, they’re nonetheless based on the essential standards of search engine marketing.

Google’s SEO resources
Google Search Essentials: In this guide, Google discusses technical requirements, junk mail guidelines and key high-quality practices.
SEO starter manual: An review of SEO fundamentals, consistent with Google’s fine practices.
Search pleasant evaluator suggestions: This file explains how Google instructs human raters to evaluate the excellent of its seek results through inspecting the experience, information, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of content and web sites.

Developing your SEO abilties
One of the great ways to learn search engine optimization is to test. Hands-on revel in is one of the absolute excellent ways to improve your abilties and deepen your search engine marketing know-how.


Build your personal websites – and make them approximately subjects you are obsessed on. Try out diverse techniques and techniques. See what works and what doesn’t.

Search engine marketing calls for many different abilties. Dig deeper into some of those in 13 vital search engine optimization capabilities you need to be successful.


Another manner to enhance your career is with the aid of attending a seek convention. The Search Engine Land crew applications the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) convention collection, which has a devoted search engine optimization music that dives into diverse elements of SEO and capabilities some awesome audio system and displays. SMX Advanced takes area in June and SMX Next in November.


Beyond that, there are numerous other options (unfastened and paid) to examine search engine optimization:

Websites, blogs and guides.
Books and ebooks.
Conferences, events and meetups.
Training and certification applications.
Groups (e.G., social media, Slack).
Following specialists on social media.
Just be careful. While there are many reliable assets, you (or your clients) will find out a few previous or wrong search engine optimization statistics sooner or later.


Bottom line: there aren’t any “familiar” truths or some big secret to search engine optimization. The reality is, you have to positioned inside the work in all the phases of search engine optimization to develop your visibility, clicks, visitors, authority, conversions, sales and revenue.

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