Before diving deep into the ocean of internet marketing, this is important to know what is SEO?
SEO simply stands for Search Engine Optimization.
According to Wikipedia, “SEO refers to search engine optimization, the process of manipulating the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines.”
Don’t understand?? Me too …
Such are my reactions when I first go through this Wikipedia definition of ‘what is SEO’.
Frankly, this Wikipedia definition is very academic and for techy persons and not for common persons like me and you.
So, let me state this in the beginning that my goal in this article is to make this complex SEO topic simple enough that even a layman can understand what is SEO. So I willfully avoid difficult terms, complicated concepts and try my best to use simple language.
My SEO Definition:
When you want to win the love of a person, what do you do?
You start wearing dresses he/she like, talk which pleases him/her more, adopt manners and behaviors he/she finds adorable. You start transforming your ‘self’ to win your soul-mate, personality of your dreams.
Same is the case with Google, Bing or any other search engine!
When you do all this, you are optimizing your blog for a search engine to love you back. This is what ‘gurus’ called (and inject fear among us..) The Search Engine Optimization.
My Simple Definition of What is SEO: Search Engine Optimization means to build and optimize your blog or site in such a way that search engines (Google, Bing) love it and allow it to rank higher in their search results.
Why We Need SEO?
Continuing with the same above example, you love a person, but still, insist that you don’t care what he/she likes. What would be the results? We all know the fate of that person.
Similarly, if you insist that I have written a great content … a masterpiece … a noble prize winner article … and I don’t care what Google likes or not, you can guess the results.
Google would throw you on 50th or may be on the 100th page where no one ever found you … and you’ll listen to sad and tragic songs lying on your couch with your masterpiece.
When you do SEO and follow the guidelines of search engines, gradually you’ll move up in the rankings and more and more people find your blog or post. With the high number of visitors, you win their trust.
Result? Now, whenever you recommend them products you genuinely find beneficial for your users, they gladly buy these products … and you earn commissions in this process.
That’s why it’s important to understand ‘what is SEO’ and ‘how SEO works’.
How SEO Works?
We can better understand SEO once we get the concept that how search engines work?
What do we do daily on the internet?
We all go to Google or Bing many times a day to look for information about certain topics. We simply put our query in the search box and press Enter and within a fraction of a second, our required information is right there presented to us.
It’s never happened in the human history … I remembered that my father spent a lot of time consulting volumes of Encyclopedia to search for his required information or visited library twice a week to satisfy his curious nature.
While thanks to internet and search engines, we got this information in a fraction of second just by one click of the mouse.
What’s more amazing is not only search engines show the most relevant results of a query, but they also prioritize or rank the results based on popularity … within this fraction of a second.
The best matching results are shown on the top; the less relevant results are thrown to lower pages. It means the first 10 results shown on the first page of Google or Bing are the best answers to your query … the top pieces of content in the whole world wide web.
How Search Engines Do That?
Search engines know well that their survival in the market (and profits too!) depends on performing two tasks:
- They must show most relevant results.
- Results must be presented very quickly.
If they miss any of the tasks, the users will be disappointed and divert to some other search engine.
The challenge is that there is such a huge number of data (literally billions of pages) which is to be discovered, stored, ranked and then shown to the user.
So search engines have designed monumental software programs to do this gigantic task.
The software programs continuously send coded software signals (commonly called spiders, bots, robots or crawlers) to these billions of pages.
Google’s spiders are so powerful that they can scan thousands of pager in a second. These spiders crawl throughout the internet, look for required information, follow the links to web pages, check the credibility of linking source, prioritize the results and show these results.
In a nutshell, a search engine performs three functions … with the speed of light!
- Discover the content (termed as crawling)
- Storing the content (known as indexing)
- Fetch the content and show results of query (retrieval and ranking)
The spiders or crawlers of search engine scan sites and collect details about page, titles, images, keywords, other linked pages, etc.
They collect every link on the page, then checks links of that page and also identify the credibility of that link.
These spiders crawl to all sites after regular intervals to check is there any updated information or change in the context of a page.
The crawlers go through an algorithmic process to check which sites to crawl and how often.
Indexing is not a strange concept.
We see indexing frequently in our lives. We found the index at the back of every book. The same is the concept of Google indexing.
When spiders crawl billions of pages, it compiles a massive index of all the words. This data is processed, organized, reported and stored in Google’s gigantic database. The process is termed as indexing.
This whole process requires a lot of technical expertise, master programming, complex algorithms, plus speed with which the report is to be presented at user’s screen instantly.
This whole process requires a lot of speed and all major search engine corporations like Google and Microsoft have over a million servers each.
Retrieval and Ranking
After crawling and indexing, the next and final step is to show the results to end user (you and me). This is termed as Retrieval.
Along with Retrieval, Ranking algorithms also do processing and check keywords against billions of others and determine each one’s relevancy. Then finally result of your search query is not only retrieved but also ranked from top, the most relevant to bottom, the least relevant.
Scammers Gaming The System:
High ranking in a search engine result page (SERP) means a high volume of visitors to a website and this turns out to be a great source of revenue.
Hundreds and thousands of bloggers won the status of millionaire when they ranked on the first page of Google or Bing.
When this happened, many scammers tried to get top ranking by gaming the system. They tried to corrupt the system and be on the first page of SERP by any means to grab more and more money.
On the other side, search engines are also very cautious about their credibility and trust of users. They also don’t want webmasters to exploit the system and unfairly climb to the tops of search results.
So, search engines keep their ranking system under very tight security. They know that if the internal working of a search engine is exposed, then scammers would surely try to exploit the system. This would result in a big blow to search engines business as people would deter away due to the fake results.
In past, search engines ranked sites how many times keywords appeared on a page. So people start putting more and more keywords in their content, which led to “keyword stuffing” — filling pages with keywords heavily.
Search engines then evolved their systems and gave much value to incoming links. The concept is that if more sites are pointed to and linked to blog ABC, it shows its popularity and relevancy.
In response to this, link spamming is initiated i.e. getting fake links to get a higher ranking. People also started link exchange programs for their mutual benefit.
To combat this trend, search engines now assess how credible the linked source is. Search engines now allow high ranking only to authority sites which share high-quality content and ensure great user experiences.
If you still you have any difficulty in understanding ‘what is SEO’, please go to Contact Page and I’ll answer any of your questions.