What is SEO and how to use SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a set of actions bordering on IT aimed at increasing the visibility of a given website in organic search results. SEO is especially useful for owners of online stores, promotional portals and owners of blogs and service companies who want their website to have a high position in Google. This parameter translates into more visits to the website and has a direct impact on brand popularity, conversion and sales.
What exactly is SEO and how do you make your website more popular? Here is a comprehensive guide on methods to optimize your website!
What exactly is SEO and when was the term coined?
First, some information about SEO and the results that can be achieved using it. According to Wikipedia, SEO optimization originated with the first search engines and was used by webmasters to increase the position of their websites.
One of the goals of SEO is to change a website’s source code to make it as friendly as possible to search engine robots and their algorithms. The aim of these actions, invariably for years, has been to maximally improve the position of a website on the list of organic search results.
One of the main elements of SEO is also effective optimization of a website for key phrases that results in the best optimized websites being on the first positions in search engines after entering specific keywords – right after sponsored links.
SEO also includes technical optimization, which consists in removing technical errors from the website structure and adjusting it for search engine algorithms.
SEO versus page positioning
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and search engine optimization are closely related. And although the definitions of both actions are quite different, it should be remembered that it is difficult to effectively position a website that is not optimized according to Google’s guidelines and vice versa – SEO optimization of a website that does not contain properly selected keywords and external links is not easy either. So, techniques from both the concepts should be combined.
“SEO and positioning are a form of creating a relationship between the site owner, its user and the robots that decide the popularity of the site. Finding a compromise in this situation, results in the website becoming attractive to search engines as well as internet users. The first step that ensures higher effectiveness of positioning is SEO Audit”.
Optimization is divided into the one that is done on your website and the one that is done off-site. Similarly, we are then dealing with on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Here’s how these two important concepts in SEO differ from each other.
What is on-page SEO?
In the case of on-page SEO also called on-site SEO – as the English name suggests – SEO optimization is carried out within a selected web page. What does it mean in practice? In short, these are SEO activities analysing and optimising website content and its technical aspects. On-page SEO activities include
- posting valuable content using keywords,
- careful website architecture design (clarity, visual attractiveness),
- thoughtful placement of internal links,
- HTML code optimization,
- taking care that the website is accessible to search engine robots.
So remember, on-page SEO is simply a comprehensive optimization of a website consisting of actions that will make it attractive to users and easily accessible to web crawlers, i.e. web robots crucial in SEO.
As a result, Google treats an optimized website as more valuable, and the user who comes to it experiences a positive impression and is more likely to make a purchase, convert, or simply remember the site as more trusted.
What is off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO is an activity that promotes website positioning by building external links and increasing website authority. Off-page SEO includes, but is not limited to:
- posting promotional posts on Social Media,
- posting external links in the network that lead to an offer on your website,
- a set of other creative activities that improve your brand image.
Thus, off-page SEO is of immense importance while building opinion about your website and increasing the number of hits to your website. The combination of on-page and off-page activities is just the complete process of optimizing a website, and positioning it.
“It is worth remembering that nowadays, in order to achieve the maximum benefits of SEO and correctly carry out the optimization of the site, you need to understand this field in depth or use the services of professionals. SEO professionals will optimize every element of the website and provide Google search engine robots with many convincing arguments, so that it is your website that will be high in the search results and reach potential customers. “
Remember that SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is not online marketing and should not be confused with the term SEM, which is related to Google Ads and Pay Per Click, or paid clicks on sponsored links.
How does the Google search engine work?
In order to better understand what SEO is, it is worth finding out how exactly the Google search engine works. The way it works is connected with the algorithm, which segregates websites present on the Internet in the context of the content they contain. Web robots analyze the query entered into the Google search engine and, based on the algorithm, create a list of specific sites corresponding to the expectations of a particular user.
Although it sounds simple enough, in practice it is worth remembering that Google’s algorithm consists of hundreds of parameters and is constantly updated. For this reason, SEO specialists have to be up-to-date, and a website once positioned does not always maintain high search results for long. Thus, SEO activities consist in constant improvement of methods and building new links and content in accordance with Google rules.
How to use search engine optimization and SEO?
SEO is a great way to increase your website’s online visibility and attract the attention of more users or potential customers. When a website shows up on the first page of a search engine, you can be sure of increased conversions, sales and overall brand popularity.
Positioning and SEO are dedicated solutions for owners of any website on the web. However, owners of online stores, service businesses, promotional portals and blogs will benefit the most.
What is SEM, or Search Engine Marketing?
SEM consists of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click). The difference between SEO and SEM is that SEO activities affect what shows up in organic search results – SEM, on the other hand, is related to sponsored links and Google Ads.
So we can say that sponsored links, banner ads, and other marketing creatives in search results are the result of SEM-related activities. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) activities also increase the popularity of a website, but they do not show up in organic search results.
SEO process and effective search engine optimization in a nutshell
The process of optimizing a website is not, as some people think, just about analyzing keywords and posting content with relevant phrases. This process consists of SEO techniques such as
- SEO audit,
- keyword analysis,
- on-page content optimization,
- competition check,
- website visibility analysis,
- technical optimization,
- acquiring external links (link building).
“Only a professional and skillful combination of all SEO optimization tools can result in increased site visibility in Google search, higher conversion rates and effective promotion of a specific brand’s offer. “
If you already know what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) methods make up an effective optimization and positioning of a website in search results – read what the described methods consist of.
The process of optimizing a website usually begins with an SEO audit, which aims to analyze the most important elements of a website, detect errors in the website structure and check its visibility in search results. It is a very useful tool for finding possible shortcomings that can be improved through website optimization.
Advantages of SEO audit
After an in-depth analysis, optimization runs more smoothly and a specialist providing SEO services knows exactly how to carry out SEO activities while planning a strategy to improve a website’s position. An SEO audit enables you to optimize your website for search engines as well as users.
What is checked during SEO Audit?
The effect of conducting SEO audit is a clear document with precisely presented issues such as
- Visibility of the website in search results (checking the current position of the website in Google search engine),
- Meta title and meta descriptions (analysis of the correctness of these metadata such as: structure, length, presence of CTA),
- URL structure (checking the address structure and presence of keywords in the address of the home page and each category page),
- H1,H2,H3 headings etc. (correcting headings so that they are set hierarchically and include keywords),
- Keywords (analyzing the content on the page for the presence of keywords and their quality and saturation),
- Alt attributes in graphics (checking that all graphics and images have alternative descriptions),
- Website loading speed (checking this parameter allows to eliminate errors that slow down loading),
- Uniqueness of content on the site (analysis of the uniqueness of texts on the site, which affects its position in the search engine and prevents banning and blocking by Google – more on this, you will read later in the text called Black Hat SEO),
- Presence of a site map (checking if the website has a site map, which improves the work of search engines during crawling and indexing).
Checking out the competition in SEO
Competitor analysis is of utmost importance from the SEO point of view. This is because it is the factor that can make your website or online store rank high in search results. For this purpose, SEO agencies usually use paid programs that help analyze key phrases and check where the traffic comes from.
By entering a domain name with a similar profile into a relevant program, you will learn about your biggest competitors and the factors that determine that their sites are currently higher in search results. However, this condition can change if you use SEO services and implement an action, which is a professional optimization of the site.
Technical optimization in SEO
To elaborate on the concept of technical optimization, it is worth starting by listing all the aspects that are considered in this process. Technical SEO is part of the on-page SEO activities mentioned above and is sometimes considered the most difficult part of optimization.
It is the technical SEO activities that are right next to link building and keyword selection the most important part of optimization.
Elements of technical SEO optimization
It can be said that technical optimization is an activity aimed at building a friendly relationship between your website and the Google robots analyzing it. So if you take care of issues such as:
- loading speed,
- image size,
- link structure,
- content caching,
- proper encryption,
- meta tag completion,
- data compression,
- creation of site map,
- presence of robots.txt file,
there is a good chance that Google robots will fall in love with your website and promote it effectively in the organic search results area. In building your SEO strategy, you should consider all the factors mentioned above.
Internal and external linking – link building in SEO
How to carry out off-page SEO activities to acquire valuable links? As you already know, search engines are extremely intelligent and it certainly comes to your mind that link building should be done in a way that is friendly to you, Google robots and also users.
Nowadays, the best way to acquire effective and importantly, Google-approved links that build your site’s high position in search results is to post them in places like:
Reputable external portals
Google’s algorithms recognize the context of the links being analyzed. For this reason, they should be posted on thematically related portals or external promotional sites.
An example would be to invest in an external expert article and include an anchor with a link to your site. The tone, however, should be as natural as possible, e.g. you can learn more on ( and here link) or the data given comes from the website ( and here link).
If you run an online store or a service business, a very important tool from an SEO perspective is to have a company blog. In such a place you can practice internal linking to your products, homepage or you can open an external blog with links to your commercial site.
NAP Directories for Local Sites
A NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) directory is a great place to place not only a link to your site, but also your company’s contact information and a short description of it. An example of a place where it is worth placing an external link is a panorama of companies. In such a place you will create a NAP business card, which will support local positioning.
Portals such as: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Linkedin allow you to post graphics, articles and other interesting creations. In such posts, you can include text links to your website.
The advantage of social media in link building lies in the fact that users often pass on links to posts on their own and in this way more and more people visit your website. The disadvantage of this solution is that social media links are of nofollow type, i.e. they have a mark informing web robots not to take them into consideration when evaluating the website from which the link comes.
The above link building solutions are proven to improve website positioning. Remember, however, that internal links on subpages of the website are also important. For example, if you own a crockery store, you may place a link in the description of a cup leading to a product such as small coffee spoons or a milk jug.
Keyword analysis and content optimization in SEO
SEO efforts rely heavily on keyword analysis and selection. It is by typing them into the Google search box that a user can find their way to your website. Page positioning and SEO are therefore largely related to keywords and placing them in the right amount, in the home page area, and sub-pages of a website.
Aligning your website content in the context of a given Google search query is one of the most important pillars of SEO strategy. If you have an online store, blog or any other service, pay attention to this important issue that accelerates SEO.
Remember that the keywords that help you reach potential customers are not always the keywords that first come to mind. To choose effective keywords, use dedicated programs that professionals who provide SEO services use.
A popular and widely available tool for phrases is Google Keyword Planner. You can also use plugins that are installed in web browsers.
Keywords and long tail phrases in SEO
The best and simplest examples of effects that can be achieved by implementing SEO actions correctly are websites in search results that appear in the first positions after entering keywords such as: black shoes or office chair. In this case, online stores effectively optimized for these specific keywords will be the highest in the natural search results.
A website is also often optimized using very long keywords. Such keyword phrases are called long tail and enable web users to find highly specific products or services on your website.
Examples of long tail keyword phrases are the words black lace-up knee-high boots or white leather high-back office chair. It is easy to guess that a shoe or furniture store optimized for such long tail keywords will be on a higher position in search results if a potential customer has precise expectations.
Check which SEO phrases your website is displaying for
If you want to get a better understanding of SEO activities related to phrases – do an experiment by typing in short keywords in Google such as black shoes and check the search results, namely which website comes up first. Then repeat the experiment by typing in a long tail phrase such as: black mesh women’s shoes and notice that among the free search results the highest will often be a completely different store.
The conclusion is obvious – in order for Search Engine Optimization to be as effective as possible, you should, among other things, put content with the right amount of popular keywords on your website. You will read about how to choose them in the further part of this text called Keyword Analysis Programs.
What is the disliked by search engines Black Hat SEO?
In addition to legitimate and effective optimization methods, there are also prohibited techniques that are called Black Hat SEO and are the opposite of the so-called White Hat SEO. It is worth mentioning them already at this stage and avoid such actions. Why? Using methods prohibited by Google for positioning websites may result in banning the portal or imposition of algorithmic filters and bring effects opposite to those intended.
The origins of Black Hat SEO
To illustrate exactly what is Black Hat SEO and what was the genesis of this phenomenon, it is worth going back to the times when the Google search engine algorithm was introduced, which allowed positioning pages on the basis of the number of external links and keywords.
For this reason, many websites were created that were almost useless to potential customers, and the content contained therein did not correlate in any way with the topic of the positioned website. The purpose of such prepared pages was to build external text links, whose goal was to “convince” Google’s algorithms that a low-quality back-end page, from which the link originated, is valuable.
Panda and Penguin, or Google’s anti Black Hat algorithms
In 2013, Google created an algorithm called Penguin, which went some way to stopping improper external linking practices and changed the SEO industry forever. Penguin was designed to verify sites that were gaining a large amount of low quality links at a rapid pace.
It is also worth mentioning that two years before Penguin was created in 2011, an anti-Black Hat SEO algorithm called Panda was created. After its mechanisms were implemented, websites with too many unnaturally used key phrases and unavoidable content found themselves in lower positions in the search engine.
Examples of Black Hat SEO
Low-quality text links and posting unavoidable content are just some of the Black Hat SEO practices. Other activities of this type include:
Content cloaking, which involves creating two versions of a page – one for the user, and another, usually stuffed with keywords – for Google robots.
The action of placing on the page almost meaningless texts, which consist of random sequences of keywords. The aim is to achieve the highest possible position of the website in the organic search results.
This phenomenon involves placing hidden redirects that, when clicked on, redirect potential customers to a website that does not match their query.
It works by creating multiple sub-pages that are, in effect, designed to take the user to the one most relevant to the brand. Doorway can also take the form of creating an unnaturally large number of domains that are created just to redirect to one site.
Links in native comments
Posting spammy redirects in comments under non-commercial articles is also considered one form of Black Hat SEO.
Algorithmic filters and Google penalties, or the effects of Black Hat SEO
The way the Google search engine works, it often catches the Black Hat practices mentioned above and imposes a penalty or algorithmic filter on a website constructed in such a way, of which the website owner is not informed. Therefore, it is worth using methods that are acceptable from the perspective of the Google search engine. However, if such a situation has already happened and the results of the website suddenly dropped, you should carefully look at your SEO strategy.
Remove links that violate Google’s rules and rebuild content that is more valuable, unique and formatted for SEO. You can read about how to create SEO compliant content in the paragraph called SEO Optimization vs Copywriting.
Basic SEO Tools
Every SEO specialist has a set of tools that he uses like a doctor healing a website. This indispensable toolkit includes a plethora of programs, plugins, and applications that allow you to conduct audits, select keywords, fix technical errors on your site, and create valuable and unique content. Here are examples.
Free Google Search Console service
Google Search Console allows you to monitor your website in the search results. It is a free tool that you just need to register to. Google Search Console offers access to the data of your website, but it does not allow you to monitor the competition.
Search Console offers an option to check the position of the website in search engines and the keywords for which the website is displayed in them. With Google Search Console you will also check the inbound links profile and create a practical report that will include detailed data about whether the selected keywords generate profits or increase the number of hits to the site.
Programs for keyword analysis
Dedicated programs and applications for analysis and keyword selection are an important part of SEO. Examples of these include:
- Surfer SEO,
- Answer The Public,
Using these SEO applications, you can establish a list of key phrases, see which ones will enable you to stay ahead of the competition, and observe what phrases your site is showing up for in Google.
SEO optimization vs Copywriting
If your website is already technically optimized for SEO and you have a list of keywords, you should start creating valuable texts using these phrases. Copywriters are responsible for writing content that is linguistically correct, contains naturally used keywords, and makes the website user happy to read it.
By outsourcing optimization to a professional SEO agency, you can count on the support of people who will efficiently create interesting product or category descriptions for your online store or blog articles for your company website. A copywriter is closely connected with SEO and it is him who makes sure that the content posted on your website is friendly both to Google’s algorithm and to potential customers visiting the site.
Website – 7 practical tips on how to optimize it
- Have a company blog. Blogs are the ones that generate a lot of links, and their content makes you a real friend to your potential customer.
- Take care of both off-page SEO and on-page SEO. Use optimization methods within your site, but don’t forget about external SEO, such as using links in sponsored articles.
- Remember to maintain the quality of linking. Links should be of good quality. Otherwise, customers may become discouraged and take your site not very seriously, and Google’s algorithm may lower your site’s search engine position.
- Analyze your site frequently using SEO software. SEO is a process. Analyze your links, keyword gains and check your search engine position on an ongoing basis. Also look at your competitors.
- Take care of the quality of content on your pages. Product descriptions, categories and articles should be adapted to humans, not just Google robots. So in practice, keyword content is important, but they should be used naturally. The text must be pleasant to read and encourage people to read it.
- Avoid copying content. Make sure that the content is not copied from other subpages. Remember also that copying texts present on the web is equated with plagiarism.
- Compress images and speed up page load time. Large size of photos on the page may slow down its loading. Especially if there are a lot of them. Prevent users from getting discouraged and speed up loading by compressing graphics.
The most common SEO questions
What are the biggest advantages of SEO?
These include increased visibility of the website in search engines, effective customer acquisition, increased sales of services and products, and gaining a competitive advantage on the web.
Is it a good idea to choose keywords yourself?
Keyword selection should be left to the experts. Why? This is undoubtedly one of the most important issues during the positioning of websites. By positioning subpages of your website on well-chosen phrases you can count on higher conversion and sales, and your customers after typing in Google the word “white cups” will go to the subpage, where you offer just cups, and not, for example, dinner plates. Professionals will also prevent the so-called keyword cannibalization.
Is it possible to effectively position every website?
Almost every website can be successfully positioned. However, it must meet a number of technical requirements and contain valuable content. Appropriate analysis of website parameters and implementation of a well-thought SEO strategy make it possible to improve the search engine position even of a website which was almost invisible at the beginning.
How long does it take to see the effects of SEO?
Depending on the regularity of your efforts, you may start seeing hits after about 2-4 months. Getting to the first page of results may take from 4 to 12 months. It all depends on the type of SEO actions taken, website construction and other independent factors.
How much does SEO cost?
Prices of positioning websites start at several hundred, and end at several thousand EUR/USD. When it comes to pricing, it is worth remembering that the greater the competition of the site and the scale of action taken, the cost will be higher.
Does the domain name affect its position in the search engine?
If the domain name is related to the specifics of your business, the website may become popular faster. However, trying to use keywords in the name should not be a priority.