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What Is SEO and How Does It Work?

by Josh Power
5 min read
Illustration of a magnifying glass, a smartphone, and icons representing the core components of search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important aspect of marketing in the digital age. Learning more about SEO can give you an edge in ensuring your business’s website stands out among competitors in organic search engine rankings, but maybe you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry; we’ll explain every nerdy-but-necessary thing along the way so that by the end, you’ll be able to learn and understand what goes into search engine optimization.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

If you’ve ever Googled and wondered how certain websites appear at the top of your search results, congratulations! You’ve had a close encounter of the SEO kind. In simple language, SEO is the practice of optimizing your website to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERP) to attract more traffic and build brand awareness. Search engine optimization involves several techniques, such as keyword research, link building, and optimizing website content to improve visibility. Some SEO “gurus” will try to sell you on one small area of SEO, but we’re no one-trick pony. At Workhorse, we take a holistic look at search engine optimization to help your website rise to the top.

The Three Components of SEO

There are three critical components when optimizing your site for search engine success. The first is On-Page SEO, which involves elements like content quality and keyword usage. Off-Page SEO deals with building backlinks to your site to increase credibility and authority. Lastly, Technical SEO focuses on site speed, mobile-friendliness, and other technical aspects that impact your site performance.

1. On-Page SEO

Never underestimate the value of high-quality on-page content. Keywords, image alt text, meta descriptions, and engaging content all help search engines better understand your website so that you can be visible on search engine results pages.

On-Page SEO: Keywords

Keywords serve as the foundation for helping search engines determine the relevance of your content to a user’s search query. Effective use of keywords involves research and careful selection to ensure they align with both your website’s content and your target audience’s search intent. Knowing what your target audience is searching for allows you to use those keywords when strategically crafting content and linking pages together. It’s also important to avoid overuse or stuffing of keywords, which can result in penalties from search engines.

On-Page SEO: HTML Tags

Composing alt text for images, videos, and other media is essential not just for proper search engine optimization but for web accessibility as well. People and bots can better understand your website content when you properly define your media and page types by properly marking up page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and more.

On-Page SEO: Video

Video has revolutionized the way companies promote their products and services. Studies show that video content is more likely to be clicked and shared than plain text, potentially leading to increased engagement and organic traffic. Even Google has incorporated YouTube videos in its search results. This behavior on websites signals that the content is high-quality and relevant to users.

2. Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to all the activities happening beyond the front end of your website that drive traffic, build your brand, and enhance your online reputation. With these inbound signals as reinforcement, your on-page content is more likely to find the right audience.

Off-Page SEO: Backlinks

Backlinks are external links from other websites that direct users to your domain. High-quality backlinks from authoritative, niche-relevant websites can significantly enhance your online reputation and drive more traffic to your website. Backlinks also play a crucial role in domain authority since they can signal to search engines that your site is authoritative and trustworthy.

3. Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the aspect of search engine optimization involving the technical elements of a website that impact search engine performance. Technical SEO consists of optimizing a website’s structure, code, and backend systems to help search engines crawl, index, and rank web pages. Technical SEO includes tasks such as improving site speed, fixing broken links and errors, optimizing HTML tags, and ensuring mobile responsiveness. Examples of technical SEO best practices include using clean and concise URLs, implementing sitemaps, enabling SSL encryption, and optimizing site structure. Technical SEO is crucial because it directly impacts the ability of search engines to efficiently understand and rank your website’s page content.

Technical SEO: Schema

Schema, or structured data, is crucial for organizing and presenting information online, but what is schema? Schema is structured data that enables search engines to display information directly on a search results page in a standardized format. If you’ve ever looked at movie showtimes, FAQs, or song lyrics displayed on a search results page, you’ve experienced data that’s been marked up with schema.

By providing a standard format for communication, schema helps search engines better understand the content of a webpage and display relevant results. With the right structured data markup backing your content, search engines can showcase your site as a rich result. These results improve the visibility of your information and enhance user experience by providing more accurate and helpful search outcomes.

Ever-Evolving SEO

As search engine algorithms continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, the future of SEO is becoming increasingly complex. With the rise of machine learning, traditional keyword optimization and link-building methods are no longer enough. Instead, SEO experts must develop strategies based on data analysis, user behavior, and cutting-edge technologies such as AI-generated workflows and augmented reality.

While AI is making keyword research and implementation more efficient, it’s important to remember that optimizing your website for search engines means constructing it in a way that makes it easy to navigate for both humans and machines. So even though machine learning is helping us crack the SEO code, you still need a human lens to guide AI along the way. It may seem overwhelming, but embracing the future of SEO will ultimately lead to greater success and visibility for your brand.

The Wrap-Up

While various SEO techniques are available, some tactics are more crucial than others when optimizing for search engines and can lead to better results. As SEO continually evolves with technological advances, taking advantage of new trends while staying consistent with proven best practices is vital in developing successful strategies. If you have questions or would like to learn more about this complex subject, contact Workhorse Marketing. We might turn into the guy in that string map meme by the end of it, but we’re here and happy to help you learn the ins and outs of SEO.

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