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What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO means Search Engine Optimization and is the process used to optimize a website’s technical configuration, content relevance, and link popularity so its pages can become easily findable, more relevant, and popular towards user search queries, and as a consequence, search engines rank them better.
Search engines recommend SEO efforts that benefit both the user search experience and the page’s ranking, by featuring content that fulfills user search needs. This includes the use of relevant keywords in titles, meta descriptions, and headlines (H1), featuring descriptive URLs with keywords rather than strings of numbers, and schema markup to specify the page’s content meaning, among other SEO best practices.
The Role of SEO
The goal of SEO is to raise your ranking in organic search results. There are different practices for optimizing AdWords, shopping, and local results.
While so many competing elements taking up real estate on SERPs may push the organic listings down, SEO can still be a very powerful, lucrative effort.
Considering that Google processes billions of search queries daily, organic search results are a very large slice of a very large pie. And while there is some up-front and ongoing investment required to secure and maintain organic rankings, every click that sends traffic to your website is completely free.
How do search engines work?
Search engines provide results for any search query a user enters. To do so, they survey and “understand” the vast network of websites that make up the web. They run a sophisticated algorithm that determines what results to display for each search query.
Why SEO focuses on Google
To many people, the term “search engine” is synonymous with Google, which has about 92% of the global search engine market. Because Google is the dominant search engine, SEO typically revolves around what works best for Google. It’s useful to have a clear understanding of how Google works and why.
What Google wants
Google is designed to deliver the best search experience to its users, or searchers. That means providing the most relevant results, as quickly as possible.
The 2 core elements of the search experience are the search term (the user input) and the search results (the output).
Let’s say you search “Mailchimp guides and tutorials.” This is a clear, unambiguous search. Google understands what you’re asking for, and it delivers a useful page as the top organic result.
From Google’s perspective, this is a very good search result and a positive user experience, because it’s likely that the user will click the top result and be happy with the outcome.
How Google makes money
Google profits from people trusting and valuing its search service. It achieves this by delivering useful search results.
Google also provides businesses with the opportunity to pay for an advertorial placement at the top of search result pages. The word “Ad” indicates these listings. Google makes money when searchers click on this pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements, which you purchase through AdWords. You’ll see these ads on more generic queries in particular.
Other than the small label, these search results look almost indistinguishable from other search results. Of course, this is intentional, as lots of users click on these results without realizing that they’re ads.
This is what Google counts on. Advertising revenues accounted for more than 80% of the $182.5 billion that Google generated in 2020. So while search functions remain its core product, it depends on its advertising business.
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