What Does SEO Stand For? What It Is and How It Works

For anyone that has spent any time in the realm of creating web content, it's near impossible to go without hearing the term "SEO". You don't even have to exert much effort—numerous articles outline the importance of SEO and how to make it work for you. But what does SEO stand for? Read on to learn.

What Does SEO Stand For and What's Its Deal?

Understanding what an acronym stands for is the first step to knowing more about the subject, so we'll start by answering the question of "What does SEO stand for?" In short, the abbreviation means "search engine optimization"—but it also brings up another issue of what does that combination of terms mean?

Most of us are familiar with search engines; Google is easily the largest, and other sites like Yahoo!, Bing, and even YouTube fall under this category as well. Optimization is another common term, used to refer to the process making something as useful as possible and into its optimal form. But SEO isn't talking about improving search engines.

Instead, SEO is all about optimizing your content for search engines. The easier it is for a search engine to connect your webpage or article with what someone types into the search bar, then the easier it becomes for people to find the content you've created and put on the web. Since people heavily rely on search engines when they want to know about a topic, SEO becomes invaluable for several reasons.

How Does SEO Work?

Even when you understand what SEO stands for, it may not be as obvious to understand how it works. The answer to that question is that SEO works in many ways, depending on the strategies you adopt. It can mean creating content that matches the key terms you think people will search for online. The effective use of keywords is one of the most common strategies for getting search engine hits.

That said, keywords aren't the only things that search engines care about finding. The algorithms for generating search results can be complicated, and they generally have the aim of giving search engine users the content they want without hassle. The practice of SEO can involve making your web content as appealing to these algorithms as possible. Aside from keywords, common strategies include:

  • Creating meaningful and helpful content
  • Appealing to specific keywords
  • Building your content to specific geographic areas
  • Mobile browser optimization
  • Use of photos and video
  • Social media integration

While these are only a handful of SEO strategies you can use, their implementation can still have a substantial impact on your web content.

Why Should You Care About SEO?

SEO and a keyboard background

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Not everyone in the world needs to care about SEO. There are plenty of people who use the internet for social media, entertainment, and other things that won't have to worry if their Twitter posts following SEO practices. However, for people who produce content for the web, be it bloggers, companies, or advertisers, SEO is something you can't ignore.

Think back to a time when you last searched for something on Google. How many results did you get for your search? How many pages were there? Did you find what you wanted? Did you even need to go past the first page? If you didn't see what you wanted, did you click forward, or did you type in something different in the search bar in hopes of a better result?

With how much information is available through the internet, we tend to expect fast results. If we find what we're looking for on page one of Google, we likely won't make to page two—let alone the hundreds of results pages after that. For the content that's on those following results, it won't make it to a searcher's attention, even if it's what they wanted to see.

Search engine optimization then becomes essential for anyone who wants not just to make content online but also wants others to see it. Without SEO, your content ends up buried in the landside of information that appears when someone searches; with it, you can reach your intended audience, which allows you to gain views, subscribers, customers, or whatever your goal is.

What Are Some SEO Best Practices to Follow for 2019?

SEO word other word related to it

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As you may have guessed from the list we mentioned earlier, various factors play into SEO. If putting your best foot forward on all these fronts isn't challenging enough, SEO is continually changing with new trends, search engine updates, and more. One of the best things that you can do for your SEO strategy is to stay on top of best practices.

While we can't cover everything in this short article, we can touch on some key points that you should consider for improving SEO for your content, no matter what it may be.

Using Keywords Effectively

Keywords are an essential factor when it comes to SEO, but you can't just stuff them onto your webpage and expect to have the search engine hits and visits rolling in. Search engine algorithms can tell when you go overboard with your keywords and will penalize you for it. Use a keyword enough that it will get a ping, but make sure the use is natural for the size and type of content.

Additionally, you can also use keywords in your webpage titles, which is a good practice. By balancing your primary and secondary keywords, your article will seem relevant to whoever is searching. If you run a website with multiple pages, you want unique title tags to make your content stand out to the algorithms.

Seek Out Areas with Less Competition

Let's be real: there's a lot of content on the internet, and some of it will overlap with the type of content you want to produce. Not paying attention to these trends can make you lose out, but it can also have you fighting losing battles; if everyone is trying to create content for a topic, you'll have way more competition to getting on that front search engine results page, let alone in the number one slot.

That doesn't mean that should give up on your chosen content, but that you should pick your battles wisely. One way is to check out sought-out subjects through tools like Google Trends or BuzzSumo, which can help you find the best time to post about certain topics or find specific keyword combinations that have less competition for them.

Aiming for Featured Snippets

Have you ever searched for something and received not only links to webpages, but also a special section at the top that provided a condensed version of your query? These results are known as featured snippets, and they can do you a lot of good for SEO. Not only will they appear first on the results page, but they're often the result read through voice search and assistants like Alexa.

Since there can only be one featured snippet for a query, it can be challenging to land a spot. Having organized content, lists that provide answers, and tables are all things that search engines look for when generating a featured snippet. Even smaller sites can have a good chance of landing this spot if it has the right structure.

Doing keyword research, thinking about your audience, and creating the content your viewers want to see in the correct format can allow featured snippets to benefit you.

Think About Search Engines Besides Google

Google is what most of us think of when it comes to search engines, but it's not the only place SEO can serve you well. What about the results that appear through Amazon Alexa units? What about when people are searching for apps in the Apple app store? Of course, not every piece of content will appear in every type of search, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to apply SEO ideas to these areas.

Thinking about your audience can let you know if you need to think about optimizing for these other platforms; after all, SEO doesn't do you any good if it's not on a platform your desired audience uses. But if you know that you have a target in those areas, customize your content to meet the best practices for where you are, whether it be Google or even a social media platform.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are another area you can't ignore when it comes to SEO. After your title claims what a webpage is about, the meta description provides more info. If you don't set one, the search engine will generate one on its own, but you'll much more effectively appeal to your audience if you write one yourself.

Take caution that meta descriptions must fit into a strict character limit. Including relevant keywords to your topic and using calls to action will encourage search engine users not just to see that your content exists, but also click through to it.

We hope that you know not only understand the answer to the question "What does SEO stand for?" but also other aspects of this important concept for content creation and marketing.

Featured Image by William Iven from Pixabay

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