What is SEO
and what website promotion means

The subject I selected is the result of a brainstorming where the winning idea is the obvious one. Yes, you’re perfectly right – I will talk about what SEO is and what it means for online businesses. I will not refer to how the SEO principles are applied in practice or what the advantages and disadvantages of online marketing are.
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First of all, I would like to confess – this is the first article published on the SEOlium blog, and the first article about SEO so far. So, you should be aware we realize the fact that we carry a great responsibility, have faith in us and… Wish us luck!

Definition of SEO


SEO
The notion of SEO emerged in the ‘90s and is an abbreviation from Search Engine Optimization. This abbreviation also refers to people practicing this “craft”.


In the early period of the Internet when there were “only” few websites (several million in fact, as compared with the current figure of approximately 20 billion) – the search engines were born and, although not sophisticated at all, they indexed the web content quite well and served as a starting point for online navigation thus representing an important source of traffic for websites. At that time, the professionals realized the need for a conscious control in increasing the visibility of websites in the search engine result pages, which generated a new science: SEO – search engine optimization, aimed at increasing the qualitative traffic of a website.

This relatively new “industry” implies a set of operations performed by the promotion team in order to increase the ranking of a website in the search results, for specific search keywords or expressions that are interesting and relevant from a business perspective.

This takes place by controlling and improving the “ranking criteria”, i.e. factors that, taken as a whole – are analyzed by the search algorithm and contribute to better positioning in the result pages. Subject to these criteria, SEO can be of two types:

Internal optimization
(On-site SEO)

The promotional efforts are directly applied to the website in question. They depend, but more importantly – can only be influenced by the SEO team.

For example: carefully writing the copy for titles and descriptions, eliminating errors, improving the loading speed, image processing, optimizing the structure of URL addresses and of internal links, using ads moderately, etc.

Generally speaking – improving the visitors’ experience.
External optimization
(Off-site SEO)

Where promotion is not directly related to the SEO team, but rather the collective will of the Internet.

This means that based on the objective reality regarding the quality of a website – search engines always try to find measurable signals with regard to the relevance and importance of the candidate webpage in relation to the analyzed search expression. These signals refer to the quality, performance and popularity indicators.

Examples may include: the number and quality of links that point to the analyzed page, number of social interactions (Facebook likes, shares, comments, Tweets, +1s etc.), context where mentions arise, the credibility and authority of sources, the global and local search volume for the respective keywords, etc.

Due to the huge commercial potential of the Internet – shortly after the establishment of search engines, the so-called “spammers” emerged – people who practice the immoral or illicit manipulation of ranking criteria in order to improve the SEO quality scores, hence the visibility of websites. On the short run, these techniques may work, but practice shows that search engines are constantly fighting with the online spam and they always eliminate potential “holes” in the system. At the same time, they publish official documents describing the “WebMaster Guidelines”, i.e. moral, legal, permitted and recommended promotion techniques that every website owner should take account of. Failing to follow these principles may get a website penalized or it can be even banned from the search engine index forever.

Subject to the degree of morality of the techniques used during the website promotion process, SEO can be divided in:

White hat SEO
Promotion perfectly follows the policies suggested or implied by the search engines. The adopted techniques are aimed at a positive experience for the visitors, but not directly at increasing rankings on search engine result pages.
Black hat SEO
The goal of promotion is to manipulate the perception of search engines regarding the quality (relevance and importance) of the website. For example: keyword stuffing, over optimization, purchasing links, etc.
Grey hat SEO
A combination between the two mentioned above where, although the moral principles are followed, certain practices are still doubtful and might be discovered and sanctioned on the long term.

Finally, as the Internet evolved, the concept of SEO grew as well, so now it covers other branches that help increase the traffic of a website by any means, not limited to just organic searches (natural and unpaid search results)

What does SEO not mean?

In the context of those mentioned above, we can state that SEO is not just excellent content or just website optimization. SEO is not manipulation neither is it magic. It is rather a harmonious combination of science, poetry, and magic. The objective truth is that SEO is not boring. Yes. That is what SEO is not. It is rather a sport where the degree of satisfaction is superlative when you win and “mediocre” :-) when you lose.

Science or magic?

So, where does the science end and magic start? Google officials repeatedly stated that the best approach in SEO is “abstinence”, i.e. no SEO at all, but is that the truth? It does not really seem to be in harmony with the famous words a smart man said: “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does”. Another rule recommended by the search engines is: “advertising, promotion, and optimization should be designed and executed as if the search engines did not exist”. The last one is an absolute truth, but the temptation is sometimes just too strong because we always consider ourselves to be the smartest ones and often underestimate the hundreds of genius “cerebellums” working for the search engines. What is even more important is that we believe that we of all people will be lucky, although hundreds have tried it before and failed. He who knows the limits and can control oneself wins. Who doesn’t – loses. It is this simple and it is the limit between science and magic in SEO. The moment of perfect balance.

Speaking of extremes, the science implies repeatable and documentable operations such as:

In turn, magic and poetry refer to the creative (and often risky) part :-) where the adopted techniques are generated by ingenious and original ideas excellently adapted to the situation of the optimized website. Here are several examples:

Most often, SEO is about the balance and compromise between instinctive and acquired impulses. It is about excellent management of resources and prioritization of efforts. It is about added value. It is about luck.

The illicit manipulation techniques are at the other extreme. I’d like to ask you – instead of having a website with an uncertain future, full of risks and negative emotions – is it not better to channel your efforts in a creative and moral direction, to develop a really good website that will be the first in Google because it deserves it?

Who needs SEO?

Now that we are clear about what SEO means and what its purpose is, let’s see who needs these services. Basically – everybody! But, there is a problem here – it is clear that two different websites cannot be on the first spot in Google. Neither can they be on the second or third place. Not simultaneously. What should be done in this case? Who should employ SEO and who should not? The answer is: those who afford to invest in this. Those who are ready to make efforts now and wait for long-term results. Those to whom this makes sense from the economic point of view. Those who love the sport, competition, and music!

Final stop – increase in performance indicators

So what does SEO bring about? Beside visits… Where does it end? When do you stop saying: “that’s all, I have optimized it!”?

Like with any other thing in life – the final goal is satisfaction. If this means larger traffic then it should be as large as possible. If everything is about profit, then SEO should be designed with this purpose in mind and profit there shall be. If the goal is to increase the clients’ base, then SEO can deliver this too. And the list goes on but doesn’t limit to: popularity, notoriety, number of fans, social engagement, etc. In short, any word triggers nirvana for each of you.

Measuring SEO success

At the same time, one of the most interesting aspects of website promotion within search engines is that you should always be alert because the competition is never sleeping. This means that SEO efforts never really end. You cannot say “I did this, this and this and that’s all, the website is optimized”. Optimization never ends. There are always things that can be done better. It is always necessary to calibrate the promotion strategies subject to the competitors’ evolution; new ideas always emerge. Even when you are the first in Google, Bing or Yahoo! – you can extend your keyword list to cover other markets as well. You can work on optimizing the conversions of visits into clients or you can simply try to be on the first place in Google for the search expression “Google” :-)

Takeaways: SEO increases the quality of a website

Since I’ve explained what website optimization is, let’s see why can’t we live without SEO. The truth is that things cannot be left to drift, but it should not be exaggerated either. The final goal of optimization should be the same throughout the entire lifecycle of the online project or business – improving the visitors’ experience. It is the only way you can be sure that the website will resist the unstable climate on the search engines continent.

Create a good, useful and attractive product for the end users and you will always be protected from tornados, tsunamis and hurricanes.