What Is SEO? How Does It Work?

Search engine optimization is one of the most important aspects of marketing these days. Once you have an understanding of how SEO works, it becomes possible to achieve a lot regarding reaching new customers, and generating traffic to your website – as well as generating footfall for your bricks and mortar business such as Delaware SEO.

SEO is a rather complex field, though, and one that is always changing and evolving. There are several components to SEO – which can mainly be divided into on-site optimizations and off-site optimizations. To get to the top of the search rankings, you need to be doing a good job of both.

What is On-Site SEO?

On-site SEO is a broad term that refers to all of the changes and improvements that you make to your website itself. This can include not just things that visitors can see, but also little improvements like changes to the server or to your back-end and caching system to make your site load more quickly. These technical improvements are just as important as the more visible ones, because the search engines want to ensure that they are sending visitors to high quality website that will give users a good experience, this means that your website must:

-Load quickly
-Be hosted in an area that is geographically close to the primary target audience
Be mobile friendly

In addition to those things, it is important that the website is easy to use, and that the markup is valid. While it’s certainly true that the vast majority of modern web browsers work just fine even with pages that aren’t quite perfectly coded, not all mobile browsers are so flexible, and there are still a lot of people stuck using older browsers on their machines at work. Also, someone who uses a screen reader or some other form of accessibility software may be relying on you having a properly marked up website so that their software can interpret it correctly.

On-site, SEO covers those issues, as well as things like having semantic markup for ‘click to call’ and to ask for driving directions, or to have your opening hours show up in Google maps.

Finally, on-site SEO also involves content creation – it would be a waste of time to try to optimize your website for keywords that do not even appear on it! An important part of SEO is writing fresh content for your site on a regular basis so that the search engines come back to it regularly and the website is always full of interesting information for your visitors and prospective customers to read. Writing articles that contain your desired keywords (in a natural way), and having the right headers, title tags and meta tags, will go a long way towards improving your rankings.

What is Off-Site SEO?

Off-site SEO, in contrast, involves link building – article marketing, directory submission, sponsorship, link exchanges, press releases, infographic releases, blogger outreach and all those other tactics that could help to increase the link profile of your website.

It is important to be careful not to spam when you engage in link building. You want to make sure that you reach as many people as possible, but that the links you get are high quality, relevant, and there for a good reason. The search engines frown on paid links and link exchanges, and prefer links that are actual positive “votes” for the content in question. They want to know that you are promoting a website because it deserves to be supported, and vice-versa.

So, when you engage in link building, don’t just try to get as many links as you can in as short a space of time as possible. Rather, spend a few minutes each week looking for fresh links, and reaching out to a couple of bloggers, PRs, newspapers and directory submission services along the way. If you build time for this into your schedule, you should find that it doesn’t take long. Google will look upon the links gained in this way more favorably, so you will be less likely to get hit with a penalty for spamming or acquiring “unnatural links”.

To achieve success in SEO, you need to put forward a steady and sustained effort, and you need to put your visitors first. Don’t try to ‘game’ the search algorithms – many people have tried this in the past and eventually the search engines will catch up with you and the results could be catastrophic for your business. Putting your customers first will help you to both avoid penalties in general and survive should you ever be hit with one. Be honest, build a strong brand, and let the other rewards (links, social media mentions, newsletter subscriptions and loyal customers) come to you naturally.

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