Search engine concept with people holding magnifying glass illustration

What is search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process used to help your website appear more often in search results. SEO improves your site’s findability to potential customers. 

SEO is also a type of sustainable marketing, meaning it costs no additional funding to upkeep and has no end date. So, rather than paying for a finite advertisement, good SEO practices naturally increase your website’s search rankings. This has long-lasting positive impacts if you keep your SEO up to date. 

A common misconception about SEO is that it is convoluted or that there are certain tricks to improve it when, in fact, Google clearly outlines how to improve SEO. Google Search Essentials outlines three practices to improve SEO and search results on your website: meet the minimum technical requirements, follow spam policies, and follow SEO best practices.

If you have a professionally developed website, your site likely already follows the technical requirements. You need to make sure that Googlebot isn’t blocked, that Google receives an HTTP request, and that the page has indexable content.

One of Google’s top tips regarding spam policies is not to mislead the search engine. Google’s algorithms are designed to catch and penalize anyone who tries to game the system. You want to show the search engine the same thing you show your site visitor. For example, hiding text from the visitor by making it white so only the search engine can see it would be penalized by Google. 

SEO best practices

Avoid keyword stuffing, which Google defines as “Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural.” It is also good practice to avoid link spamming or exchanging links with another site in an “I link to you, you link to me” way, as Google puts it. Links are used to check relevancy to search, and attempts to abuse it will be penalized.

Following keyword best practices will also improve your site’s ranking in search results. 

One practice they recommend is improving the crawlability of your website pages. “Googlebots” search for new websites and check for relevancy in search results, and the main way these bots find new websites is through links. It’s important that you make these links “crawlable” so the bot can follow them. Links can only be crawled if they have an anchor element with an HTML a href attribute, which specifies the URL of the link destination. 

Anchor text is the visible text in a URL, the part you highlight when you add a link. Good anchor text clearly tells the visitor where the link will take them simply by reading it, and the same principle applies to the search engine. Write content that serves the visitor well

SEO is also improved by making text easy to read and organize, and by not copying others’ work. Search engines value well-written, unique content that readers want to find.

High-quality blog posts make the site interesting and useful, and give visitors a reason to return. Websites that are information-rich yet clearly communicated have a better chance of ranking higher in search results. Your goal with your website should be to educate, inform, and entertain your visitors. 

Keywords are still important, but Google wants keywords that are used naturally and are varied, and the Googlebot that indexes websites will even look at phrases and relationships between words.

You should also use keywords and terms readers would use. For example, some users might search for “SEO tips and tricks” while others might search for “How to improve search rankings.” If you can anticipate these variations in search terms, it can positively affect your rankings.

When tackling an SEO project, we use our expertise to produce high-quality content, research keywords and phrases, and organize website pages for easy navigation. We also employ best practices for search engine optimization when building websites. 

References and further resources from Google Search Central: