What's SEO?

Everything you need to know about SEO

What’s SEO?

SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization.’

The concept itself is an old one, but the term is relatively new, dating back to 1997 (funny thing…a man named Bruce Clay applied to trademark the acronym, and tried to convince the trademark office that SEO is a process, as opposed to a marketing service).

Before search engines were born, ‘webmasters’ (fancy term for the creator and manager of a website) would send website information (address, names, etc.) to a registrar, which would put out a printed directory of the internet…much like the Yellow Pages. As the internet grew and search engines started to appear, webmasters would send similar information to the search engines for them to index within their system.

It didn’t take long for Altavista or Infoseek (pre-Google engines) to catch on to people who were manipulating the content of their sites to include ‘SEO pages,’ and in 1997, these search engines began to introduce algorithms which made it harder for webmasters to manipulate their sites’ ranking.

Fast-forward 20 years. AltaVista and Infoseek are now single line items in encyclopedias somewhere, and Google dominates online searches worldwide. However, the algorithms to fight those who try to manipulate sites’ rankings continue to evolve.

Should you hire an SEO company?

Just like you, we often get emails from companies offering to optimize our site. Some highlight “opportunities” and some use fear tactics to make it seem like our site is on the verge of disappearing and that unless we enlist their services, it won’t be noticed by Google.

Hiring a company to review your site’s content, conduct a keyword analysis (comparing what people are searching for with your content), and analyze your site’s structure can be very helpful. It is very easy to make the mistake of creating content that is filled with jargon — content that makes sense to the writer, but not the visitor.

While legitimate SEO consulting can help improve your site’s flow and content, some SEO firms employ dishonest tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. No reputable SEO firm can guarantee a number one ranking on any search engine. Be very careful; if your domain is associated with one of these services, it risks being banned from Google.

How to optimize your website (without cheating)

According to Google, their “mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” They do this best by serving their users results that are most relevant to their search — results that they can trust.

While the algorithms used by Google to determine what sites rank higher are kept secret and change multiple times a day, we know Google uses about 200 criteria when choosing how pages rank. Here are five things Google looks for when ranking websites:

  1. Reputation
  2. Quality content
  3. Quality design
  4. Quality code
  5. Secure experience

(You can read more about those concepts in our article “How Google Works.”)

Based on those concepts, we’ve compiled a list of practical do’s and don’ts you and your webmaster should follow to make sure your website is performing its best in Google:

DO’s
DON’Ts

Learn more

If you want to learn more about how Google works and what it looks for in websites, send us an email anytime.

You can also read more here:

Google Search Guidelines

Google’s SEO Starter Guide

Do you need an SEO?

Steps to a Google-friendly site

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