What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, has been around since the dawn of search engines. In simple terms, it is the changes needed for a website to be considered favorably by search engines. The changes, referred to as optimizations, are outside the realm of basic web development. In fact, it is possible to have a website built that is devoid of almost all SEO factors. Just because you have a beautiful site, created by a reputable developer, does not mean you are ready to rank favorably.

It is currently estimated that over 200 factors go into Google’s algorithm, which is responsible for how well a site ranks. This is of course just an estimation, with the real factors closely guarded by the gatekeepers at Google. Of the 200+ estimated factors, some have been confirmed by Google, while industry professionals have tested others and believed to be relevant.

The fundamental idea behind Google’s algorithm and where a site ranks addressed in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The basic guidelines are as follows:

Basic principles

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Don’t deceive your users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee.
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your site stand out from others in your field.

As you can see, Google wants sites to be user-friendly, and their rankings are intended to be based upon what they think will be the most relevant and useful to searchers. SEO is about fixing the issues which take away from the user experience, such as slow loading pages or cumbersome navigation. It is also about addressing other “on-page” factors that affect the user and Google’s understanding of what a site is about. Meta-description, for example, is not thought to be a ranking factor, but it does influence whether a searcher “clicks through” to your site. If the meta-description aligns with the page users arrive at, they are likely to stay and interact with your site, which are both ranking factors.

At Cardinal SEO, we think of SEO as a symphony. Your site needs all the instrument playing the right song, on key, and in harmony for the best performance. In this case, the best rankings.