How Does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Work?

SEO is the colloquially used acronym for search engine optimization. This involves taking measures to improve the ranking of a webpage in search results. The most popular sites for searching topics on the internet include Google, Bing and Yahoo, and most SEO efforts are directed toward improving ranking positions in these three engines.

Keyword Phrases

Ranking in the search engines is based on keyword phrases. A keyword phrase is what someone would type into the search field when looking for something online. For example, someone looking for ticket to an upcoming Eminem concert would type "Eminem concert tickets" into the search field. The search engine will then return a list of relevant results chosen based on a list of specific criteria.

Webmasters target specific keyword phrases in their SEO campaigns. Phrases are chosen based on relevance to what the site offers as well as the level of competition they will face from competitors. The idea is to find a relevant key phrase that has low to medium competition. This will minimize the expense and effort required to secure a high ranking.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO involves the structuring of content on a website to make it attractive to the algorithms the search engines use to rank web pages. Factors include the quality of the written content, how the key phrase is featured within the content, how the page is tagged, and how images or other media are added to the page. Webmasters follow specific but constantly changing guidelines to optimize their web pages for SEO purposes.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO involves building links from other sites on the internet back to your web pages. These are seen by the search engines as votes for your site. The more links there are to a page, the more votes it has in the eyes of the algorithm. The quality of these links also plays a major role in their effectiveness. If there is a link to your site from a page with high page-rank, the link is worth more than one from a page with low page-rank. Page-rank is determined by the number and quality of links coming to a page. Getting a link from a page with high page-rank is akin to getting endorsed by a prominent name in your industry, so it is valued highly by the search engines.

Link Diversity

When building backlinks to your site for SEO purposes, it is important that the links appear as natural as possible. You should have links from a number of different web sites, social media profiles, and social bookmarking sites. The more link diversity you have, and the more natural your link profile appears to be, the better your site will look in the eyes of the search engines. Building links on a number of platforms slowly and steadily has always been seen as the safest and smartest approach to getting a site to rank.

What makes SEO tricky is that the rules of the game are always changing. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, so webmasters have to stay on top of these changes and make adjustments to the SEO techniques they are using.

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