What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the process by which we provide search engines with relevant content. So every day we get emails offering SEO tips, and pages spring up to market SEO services. At first, I thought: “I’ll sign on to it.” But what exactly do these tips entail?

Search engines have an incredibly difficult task in distinguishing between web pages and content that is directly related to a search query. If a few words are similar to one another, then even if the page itself isn’t related to the query, the search engine may still give it a higher ranking based on a generic search strategy. This is because Google has already looked to its general search algorithm to determine what search terms are relevant to the page—when it finds otherwise, it penalizes the page and dishes out a penalty. For this reason, any SEO trick can be quite effective, as long as it works within the parameters of the general search algorithm.

Proper SEO tips include improving page navigation, creating quality content, and providing links that link back to the site itself. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to SEO tips, the biggest question is often, “What does SEO really mean?” This varies with the industry and website itself, but the general answer is that it means finding the right ways to tell the user what you have to offer.

Of course, the message that should be included should be subjective. Rather than setting a definitive set of guidelines for a site’s keywords and page structure, SEO focuses on how to create a unique feel that will bring your user into your site. As far as free-form website guidance goes, it’s always tempting to impose rules on what can and cannot be done. Even if the guidelines may not be extensive, they must always be followed. However, the way a website functions and its presentation is often affected by the content—that means the rules shouldn’t just be in place as a marker for what’s required, but should be influenced by the content.

If your goal is to improve SEO, you must think about the “authenticity” of your content in order to resonate with users and create a more engaging overall experience. To do this, you must always think about what your site will look like when a person views it on mobile and should include responsive design strategies. You need to make sure that you have relevant content related to the keyword being searched in the query. That way, when you present yourself on a mobile device, you’re delivering the exact look and feel you want.

Last but not least, I would recommend focusing on content strategies and not the rest of your site itself. Most other efforts will fall on deaf ears if users aren’t engaged. Know that your content has a very strong impact on your website’s results in the overall search engine. This means that you must focus on the right type of content for the type of website you are building. This doesn’t mean you must focus exclusively on high-quality content (the coveted SEO term), but instead on the type of content that links to your main business values and then makes itself easily accessible via the media. From there, people are more likely to find their content more enjoyable to consume and want to stick around.

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