What is SEO?

Learn all about what SEO stands for and what it means to your business.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This is an abbreviation we’ll be seeing a lot of in our lessons!

It refers to the process of trying to get your website and its component webpages higher up in the result pages which are returned to users when they enter certain terms or phrases into search engines like Google. In this lesson we’ll be looking at the basics of the all-important search engine ranking process, how SEO works in principle, and what kind of activities it typically involves.

What is SEO

The Ranking Process


Search engines are designed so that users are given the resources they are most likely to want or need, in response to the words or phrases they have typed into the primary search box. The idea is that the best and most relevant websites and pages should appear (more or less in order of their quality and relevance) on the search engine’s results pages, making it as useful as possible for the person who entered the search terms.

This might all sound very simple, but in fact the processes that lie behind even the simplest online search are very complex and complicated indeed. In this context, sorting the wheat from the chaff is not easy for search engines, particularly because there are now literally billions of webpages that Google could choose to add to a given results page.

Thankfully, these processes are automated. Online information is indexed by specially designed bots that constantly crawl the world’s webpages and feed information back to search engine functions. Data gathered by these crawlers is analysed by meticulously designed and regularly updated algorithms. These algorithms make judgments about the quality and usefulness of the many millions of webpages for the user’s search.

Given that these crawler bots are not human and that an algorithm is just a regimented mathematical process, search engine results remain imperfect. There is keen competition to rank well on the leading sites. This is made more difficult due to the fact that these sites’ basis for ranking pages changes regularly and sometimes quite significantly.

Why SEO Works

To put it very simply, SEO is the process optimising a website so that it appeals to the robot crawlers which return information to search engines. It also involves highlighting the keywords which are most relevant to the content.

When conducted well, SEO leads to higher search engine results, page rankings, and very often increased and more sustainable traffic flows to your website. The aim for businesses, bloggers and service providers of any kind is generally to rank well in particular terms, or in a series of terms, that relate directly to the field of operation or activity which they are involved in.

If you get your SEO strategies wrong, or if you overlook the issue altogether, then you could find that your online profile is seldom seen, even by people who are trying to find exactly what you are offering. It might be that by simply creating a visually attractive website which has some good quality written content on it you can establish a position high up the rankings and online traffic will flow your way. The best policy though, for businesses or for anyone else trying to up their online profile, is to produce a good quality website with good content, and to combine this with a well thought out and flexible SEO strategy.

What SEO Involves

The process of optimising your website for search engines comprises a number of activities, including but not limited to the following:

Optimising your on-page content for keywords

Structuring your site to make it more easily navigated

Using hyperlinks to promote keywords and link to other pages on your site

Revising page names

Revising URLs and the web addresses of your pages

Managing meta text

Securing inbound links from external sources

Linking out to other websites

Using images, video and other media

All of this might seem like a lot to take on, but SEO isn’t nearly as complicated or challenging as it might at first appear to be. At the highest level of the craft, there is a lot to consider and there are new strategies being developed and deployed every day. However, for newcomers and for most of the rest of us it is all about understanding the basics and getting into good habits.

Once you understand some of the key issues, you should find it relatively easy to at least start the process of optimising your website, and you should be able to do so without needing to spend any sizable sums of money. If after this you are keen to move forward from there and deliver sustainable SEO benefits, then a good grasp of the basics will help you decide what kind of strategies might be the most appropriate for you and your website.


  • What does SEO Stand for?

    Search Engine Optimisation

  • How quickly will I see the benefits of SEO?

    The initial SEO of your site will require some time allocation but the total time required will depend on the complexity of what you are trying to do. SEO in general is not a finite process and once you have ‘good’ SEO on your site, it needs to be maintainedin order for your position on the search engines page rankings to be consistent.

  • Is it easy?

    SEO is so much more than any one specialism, so although your “insert name here” specialist can no doubt do a good job on certain parts of your SEO, having some knowledge of all the components yourself and how they should fit together will put you in a much better position to oversee the delivery of excellent SEO.

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