How does SEO work?

How does SEO work? The four pillars of search engine optimization

SEO is more than “just” backlink building! Instead, the modern search engine optimization deals with a variety of disciplines that are more or less dependent on each other and influence each other. In my blog post, I’ll tell you what I think they are!

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This definition includes all measures that help a website to be found better on a search engine, such as Google. So I “optimize” a website for a search engine. The frequently used “SEO optimization” is an ugly duplication: “Search engine optimization.”

How does Google search work?

To understand how SEO works, it’s helpful first to know how Google works:

  1. The Googlebot, a program of Google’s engineers, “eats” through the web pages, following every link it finds and to follow (specialist terminology: the Googlebot “crawls” web pages).
  2. It adds these pages to the Google “index” and thus forms a huge database of saved URLs.
  3. Now you enter a search query on Google and press Enter.
  4. Google calculates the search result list live and tries to match your search intention (i.e. your search intent) as exactly as possible.
  5. Google shows you a selection of (in his opinion) best results for your search query and searches intention.

In “mixed” intentions, search results often show a mixture of different types of pages. For example, if my search query for Google is not clear on whether I want to buy something or search for information, results from shops (transaction-oriented pages) and explanatory (information-oriented ) content often appear.

How does SEO work?

How does Google calculate the relevance of the pages?

To decide which web pages for a term are in positions 1, 5 or 80, Google uses a very complex algorithm that includes more than 200 factors. What these are in detail and how they are weighted, unfortunately, remains a mystery in detail. However, the most important factors are known (or at least we all assume to know …) and are roughly divided into two areas, also known as the “classic” SEO disciplines: Onpage and Offpage.

What is SEO good for?

Ultimately, you probably want to achieve what we all want with SEO: to be found better on Google, to get more (or better?) Traffic to your website and ultimately generate more sales or leads. How the success of SEO measures can be measured, Felix has described very well in his blog post about SEO KPIs.

Offpage factors

Under “Offpage” SEOs summarize everything that happens outside the website. Roughly speaking, it is always about links from other sites to their webpage – so-called backlinks. Google includes the number and quality of referring pages in its calculation of results. However, the influence of backlinks (still today) is very controversial in the scene.

Link Building

Valuable link building influence the ranking positively. Accordingly, there was – and is – a large market for so-called link building. This is understood as the backlinks building to your website. It can be more or less creative and buy links, swap or earn by good content. This is not just about quantity, but above all about quality. If this leaves something to be desired, links can have a negative effect on the ranking. For this reason, we strongly support the natural Link Building through content marketing, which is primarily run for the sake of the content itself. Links are often a welcome side effect.

What is Link Building

Remove link audits & links

If you have the suspicion that “bad” backlinks point to your site, then it’s time for the second off-page area of ​​search engine optimization: Linkaudits, Linkabbau and Linkentwertung. In doing so, as many links to your website as possible are determined using tools (for example Sistrix, Moz, Ahrefs, LinkResearchTools) and then evaluated. If a link is identified as potentially “toxic,” you can either ask the webmaster of the linking site to remove this link (which is often unsuccessful) or invalidate the link through Google’s Disavow tool.

Onpage SEO

Unlike off-page SEO, all on-page actions take place on your website. Here, the quite large onsite area can be subdivided into other sections – roughly in “content” and “technical SEO.” In the meantime, one often no longer has “the one SEO” for all areas, but specialists for specific areas.

Content SEO

Content SEO is as important in my opinion as Technical SEO because it lays the foundation for the SEO strategy of the website: Which keywords do I want to serve? What search intention is behind individual terms? How do the keywords make the website structure? How do I optimize the SEO landing pages and snippets? How do I harvest Featured Snippets? Questions about questions that can decide the success and failure of a website. But here is: Without a sound technology, your website does not help even the best content.

Technical SEO

In addition to content SEO, technical SEO is another cornerstone of the success of your website. This area has become increasingly important and more complicated in recent years. Starting with: Is the website at all crawlable and indexable (JavaScript! – highly recommended is this JavaScript SEO Guide by Artur Kosch ) on the identification of links on 404 pages to load time optimization, structured data, internationalization and crawl control Technical SEO is a very broad domain. And here too: without good (tailored to the target audience) content, no good rankings.

Further “(SEO) Disciplines: User Experience and Content Marketing

User experience and content marketing are often counted as SEO, but can also be considered as independent online marketing disciplines. But since they also influence the ranking and thus also serve the search engine optimization, I do not want to suppress them in this blog post.

User experience

Since the UX also works directly on the page, user experience can also be counted as on-page SEO. It affects the user signals of a page and thus in the long term on the rankings. Google gives many examples of a good UX in his playbooks – the most important of which shows you Steffi in her blog post ” User Experience – a ranking factor ?”.

Content Marketing

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a term under which many online marketers understand a wide variety of “things.” But they all have one thing in common: Somehow, it’s always about content. Either on your page as a magazine (then we would be back on your website and thus Onpage 😉), on a stand-alone blog, on social media channels or other websites. Under certain circumstances, Content Marketing can also be counted as Offpage SEO, namely when it is primarily used for link building. Silja explains in this post how content marketing and SEO interact – and inspire each other.

Four strong pillars for your website

From my point of view, all four pillars of search engine optimization – on-page and off-page SEO, content marketing and user experience with all their sub-areas play an important role in the success of a website. Partly strong individual pillars turn the others or can be indirectly influenced by them – for example, good content often leads to valuable backlinks. Ideally, you have four strong pillars that support and complement each other.

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