The basics of SEO cover photo

The basics of SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is improving the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results.

You can break down the basics of SEO into three main categories:

  • On-page SEO refers to the elements of a website that you can optimize for search engines. This includes title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and keyword-optimized content.
  • Off-page SEO refers to factors outside your website that can affect your search engine rankings. This includes things like backlinks from other websites and social media signals.
  • Technical SEO: This refers to the behind-the-scenes elements of a website that can affect its search engine rankings. This includes things like the website’s architecture, its loading speed, and the use of structured data.

Many other factors can affect your search engine rankings, but these are some of the most important. In general, the goal of SEO is to make your website more attractive to search engines to rank higher in the search results.

It’s also important to note that SEO is an ongoing process; you must regularly check your website’s performance and make necessary adjustments. Additionally, you should adhere to the best practices and guidelines set by search engines because breaking the rules can lead to penalties or even being banned from search results.

Paid versus organic traffic

You can organically attract more people to your website by effectively using SEO techniques. This way, you don’t have to pay a search engine directly.

Paying a search engine directly will result in short-term, costlier traffic to your site. Optimizing with SEO techniques will result in long-term, less expensive traffic to your website.

With over 99% of all the searches via mobile, Google is by far the biggest search engine that exists at the moment.

Their biggest focus, and so ours, is to give the visitor to your website the best search experience possible.

The way to do that is to improve the more than 200 ranking factors that Google considers when showing pages on the SERP (search engine results page).

Since paid traffic via Google is their highest income, optimizing by only ranking factors takes work. Search engines are making it difficult for SEO specialists to reach high rankings and to keep them by changing their algorithms constantly.

As an SEO specialist or someone taking on SEO within a company, you always need to be on top of your game by keeping yourself up to date about changes Google makes and ways to improve content.

Google doesn’t only change its algorithm to be ahead of SEO specialists. They shift the algorithm constantly to keep up with the demand for better answers/pages to the questions on their website.

To start with SEO, you must make a plan or a strategy. A typical approach to improve SEO consists, among other things, of link building and keyword research. Many companies that operate online and that want to generate traffic to their website are dependent on SEO.

How does a search engine work?

A search engine is a computer program designed to answer questions. You ask a question, and the program returns the most relevant answer.

It needs to archive all possible solutions in advance to give the best answer possible to different questions.

Search engines thus manage to collect all public content on the internet. For this, they use so-called crawlers.

A crawler is a bot that comes to your website and indexes your pages. This way, he “reads” what your page is about.

An algorithm to find the best search results eventually determines the most relevant results. It does this by checking 200 different ranking factors.

Why is SEO important? 

SEO is important for companies for several reasons. In most cases, traffic from organic (free) results from Google converts better than traffic from social media or advertisements.

With SEO, you are found at the right time by the right target group. That means that your visitors are always interested in your service or product.

Almost everyone (including yourself) will search for a service or product through a computer or mobile device.

Especially when your company is focused on private individuals’ SEO is an indispensable element in your marketing strategy.

On average, ten thousand searches relate to your services or products.

If you are not found, you most likely miss out on many customers who ultimately end up at your competitor.

These competitors come directly at the top of the search results in a relevant search in Google.

Keys to SEO success

When are you successful with SEO? Sometimes it takes time to scope. Usually, you measure the following KPIs:

  • Visibility in the search engines (%)
  • Number of visitors coming to your website from search engines – or organic traffic
  • Number of conversions coming from organic traffic

Eventually, you also look at underlying metrics. This gives you the idea that your efforts also have a real effect. Those metrics include the following:

  • Number of backlinks: or other pages that link to your page
  • Domain & Page Authority: the authority scores of the domain, one of the pages.
  • Trust flows
  • Positions

Ranking factors

There are countless different possibilities to strengthen your position in search engines. We could subdivide all these factors into three categories:

  • The technique of your website
  • The content on your website
  • The authority that obtained your domain and your page, according to the search engine

Technical ranking factors

The technique is mainly about two things:

  • Does your website offer a good user experience for the user?
  • Can search engines scan and index the content on your website?

Content ranking factors

Obviously, your page will be displayed with a particular keyword people search for if the content you have on that page is relevant.

Search engines look first at the search terms that have been entered. Fortunately, they are getting better at recognizing synonyms and other compositions of questions and sentences.

How you deal with those keywords (so-called ‘semantics’) is also important for Google’s algorithm.

What does authority mean in SEO?

As soon as your website performs technically well and your content matches the user’s search queries, it is still a question of whether you answer the search query.

Google looks at various data about your website. Are you often referred to by other relevant pages, for example, using a link to your page?

Then the algorithm recognizes that as an ‘authority point.’ Social signals, such as shares and interactions on social media, also show that you possess high-quality content.

SEO back in the day

In 1990, a project called Archie was born. Computer science students developed a system that archived websites.

At that time, it was a big breakthrough. It wasn’t all as exciting as you might think, though. At that time, there weren’t many extensions the program could read, nor were there so many websites to archive as we know now.

In 1994 the WebCrawler made a big difference in how we approached SEO.

Instead of archiving complete websites, WebCrawler could read content that was published online.

This gave the (online) marketers of that time tools to improve their websites and make them better findable.

Until Google was introduced in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Yahoo was the biggest search engine on the market.

Google got popular very quickly because of its interface. Their homepage was clear, everything looked nicer, and the search results were better than the others offered.

After the introduction, everything went really fast with the now biggest search engine.

In the beginning, all tricks were used by marketers to improve the findability of their sites.

From white text in the background to big chunks of keywords at the bottom of every page. Some websites were very easy to find but were not so user-friendly.

And because of the keyword mayhem they created, Google couldn’t give the best search experience possible.

Something Google had to improve fast to keep the market share they worked so hard for.


Because Google gained popularity over the years and the number of sites kept growing, more and more people started working at Google to make the search experience the best as possible.

They did this by developing algorithms. These algorithms are (mostly) classified. People are still determining the ranking factors for websites.

However, many search engine specialists try to figure out how it works so they can apply their findings to improve their ranking and/or the ranking of the pages they work for.

Different ranking factors

Google developed different factors that needed to be optimized to get a higher ranking in the search results.

These factors are included in algorithms that focus on a page’s loading time, bounce percentages, and link profiles.

With the rising popularity of mobile searches, responsiveness is becoming a significant factor.

The vision of Google stayed the same throughout the years: make the world’s information accessible.

To make sure Google meets its vision, it introduced some high-profile updates.

This means that with good SEO content, it’s nowadays less about sneaky tricks and more about answering questions like ‘How relevant are you?’ and ‘How user-friendly is your site?’ with your content.

If you are in the game to make a quick fix by implementing old tricks, Google will punish you by sending your page to the end of the search results or not showing your site at all.

It is very easy to get punished, and you won’t know when your site will recover.

Nowadays, search engines are way more developed than only looking at what kind of content you offer on your website. Search engines also give other search results, like:

  • Images
  • Video
  • Local search results
  • Google maps
  • Shopping
  • News

For this type of search, you can optimize your own content to generate more traffic and, hopefully, more conversions.

Outsource your SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential for businesses looking to gain an edge over their competition and increase their online visibility. It can be a daunting task for those unfamiliar with the process and who don’t have the time or expertise to devote to it. Outsourcing your SEO could be the answer you are looking for. By outsourcing, you can benefit from expert advice, improved performance, and more efficient use of resources. With an SEO professional’s help, you can rank your website higher than all your competitors and have a greater chance of being found by new customers. Want to know what we can do for you? Get in touch!

Charlotte Vis