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What is SEO: An Introductory Guide to Search Engine Optimization

When asked, “What is SEO?” Most of us feel we’ve got a pretty good idea about the answer, right?  After all, search engine optimization (SEO) is a way to improve your website. Sure.

But in truth, SEO is so much more than that.  It’s about building and growing websites in purposeful ways to jockey for better, higher positioning in search engine results.  This result is a chain-reaction that ultimately drives high quality, high volume traffic to your website.

While this is the primary motivation behind SEO, it’s extremely oversimplified. In truth, there are a lot of factors when it comes to creating successful SEO strategies. Increasingly, the bar for SEO is rising and the stakes are equally high if you don’t employ proper SEO practices. 

Today, SEO has become a holistic practice that looks at the big picture. To meet the ever-changing climate and behavior of search engines, businesses need pro SEO strategies in place that “make the grade” in the eyes of heavy-hitting search engines such as Google.

What is SEO?

In a nutshell, SEO is the practice of turning your website into a mega traffic magnet. It’s also about optimizing your site to its maximum potential in order to appease the search engines without compromising on value to your readers.

SEO unites creative artistry with technical skill. It also requires critical thinking as well as being current with the latest trends and demands from search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing to render optimal outcomes. 

When answering the “What is SEO” question, we’ve got to consider the answer from a search engine’s point of view.  To elaborate, search engines have specific criteria when determining if your website is worthy of high rank on search results. 

Search engines analyze a website’s speed, security, keyword usage, user behavior, backlink profile, and even take link building and meta descriptions into account.  They are constantly assessing these and other factors in order to determine if a site satisfies criteria that deserves higher search engine result rankings. 

When all these factors are considered, a well-executed SEO strategy can get your website on that coveted, top, first-page rank as well as drive loads of organic, focused traffic to your website.

Why is SEO important?

If you’re wondering why SEO is so important to business, consider this; according to current internet statistics, there are 1.8 billion websites on the internet today. That number skyrockets by the minute because over 547,000 new websites are launched on the internet every day.

With this staggering amount of competition online, how do you get ahead? How can your website possibly cut through all the noise and rise above almost 2 billion other competing websites? 

In a word – superior SEO.  Done correctly, SEO is your business’s silver bullet in annihilating competition and getting seen by potential customers and clients during online searches.

Now, let’s ask another question. Are you stuck on the hamster wheel of pay per click or paid media advertising?  A masterful SEO plan is far more effective and powerful than paid ads because it magnetizes organic traffic to your site. What’s more, that organic traffic has a far longer lifespan on your site than paid ads, because once you stop feeding money into ad campaigns, that traffic stops too. 

In other words, smartly managed SEO content and practices generate natural, fresh, ongoing traffic to your site.  It’s an elegant solution for any type of website owner with a goal to grow their online presence for the long-haul.

What is On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO?

On-page SEO entails making tweaks and improvements to your own personal website.  This includes writing SEO optimized page content and blog posts, adding targeted meta descriptions, tweaking H1’s and H2’s.  On-page SEO is the encompassing effort your site puts forth to say, “I am an authoritative source in X.” 

As you might expect, off-page SEO is about taking actions to boost your search engine results by methods not directly on your own website.  This includes getting quality external websites linking back to your website.  This is known as a backlink and it is how external websites say, “This website is an authority in X.” 

Starting to make sense?  A holistic strategy includes on-page and off-page SEO asserting your site as an authority in your respective category.  Combining both on-page and off-page SEO practices is an iron-clad way to establish your online brand and build your website’s gravitas online. A solid SEO plan of attack involves utilizing both on-page and off-page strategies to get optimum results. 

What is SEO Content?

Back in the 1990s, Microsoft founder Bill Gates coined the phrase, “Content is king.” Today, that statement is still as relevant and profound as it was back then.  SEO content refers to blog posts, landing pages, images, videos, etc. that are optimized in order to get you high scores with search engines.

There is an array of mind-numbing methods for transforming content into SEO royalty. One of the easiest and best ways to boost your standing in the search engines is by publishing incredibly valuable, high-quality content on your site’s blog. Consistent and regular blog posts that are keyword-focused and add value to your readers is Google gold. 

So, if you’re wondering, “Why is blogging important for SEO?” The answer is because it is your first and best weapon for slaying competition online. Why? Because Google is constantly striving to improve search results for its users. When it identifies your blog as crunching out superlative, consistent SEO content, you’re essentially spoon-feeding Google exactly what they want to provide for their online users.

Generate higher status and improved traffic by giving your readers killer SEO content that should: A) Solve a problem for your reader, B) Satisfy search engines in terms of user-friendliness, keyword use and optimization, C) Be a joy to read by your audience. 

Repeating this formula in your blog posts regularly with frequent publishing is an evergreen way to inform search engines that your blog is crushing it in terms of value.    

What is SEO Link Building?

Link building is the secret sauce to SEO that many website owners aren’t always privy to.  Ideally, link building should be organic, and it should be done because it can greatly improve your standing with search engines.  

A strong link building strategy means acquiring the highest quality ingoing and outgoing links for your site. Outgoing links, known as “authority links” should add value to your readers as well as underscore the topic of your post.

Acquiring quality ingoing links is just as important as the content on your website itself. Remember, ingoing links to your site is a vote of confidence and authority in the eyes of Google.  

The summation of your ingoing links is your backlink profile. This reflects how many and the quality of external websites that are linking to your website, and it’s a heavyweight in terms of informing Google how valuable your site is.

In a perfect world, your content is so stunning that other sites are constantly linking to your information. This, however, doesn’t always happen. Winning the hearts of quality websites that want to link to your site is difficult and time consuming.

You can reach out to site owners and request a link. But don’t be surprised if you don’t always get a response. More often than not, website owners are turning to  ethical SEO companies that have access to a trove of quality resources enabling them to conduct reliable, honest, superior backlink services for their clients.

Boosting the number of high-quality backlinks to your site is one of the biggest indications Google uses to deem your website worthy of top rank in search results. After all, if Google already holds a website in high esteem, and that site links to yours – it’s like an instant recommendation for your website.


If after reading this, you’re still wanting a definitive answer to the question, “What is SEO?” then conduct a little experiment.  The next time you do a search on Google, pay close attention to the sites that are top-ranked on the first page. Then consider the time, effort, strategy and knowledge that went into achieving that enviable position over the other billions of websites online.

With this in mind, you can see how a well-executed SEO strategy has the power to take a website from mediocrity to superstardom in terms of increased traffic, higher search engine ranking and overall online acclaim.  

So, if SEO is such a powerful tool, you might be wondering why everybody isn’t doing it.  In truth, the majority of business websites are implementing SEO.  However, they are either doing it incorrectly, or they aren’t approaching it with that “big picture” mentality that is so crucial to crushing the SEO game.Thankfully, you don’t have to trudge through endless research findings or scrutinize ever-changing Google criteria for top results. With the Agency Engine, you have an ally that can revolutionize your website’s performance through high-integrity, superior search engine optimization strategies.