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SEO basics: What is SEO?

SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s – search results. SEO focuses on rankings in the organic (non-paid) search results. In this post, I’ll answer the question “What is SEO?” and I’ll explain how we perform SEO at Yoast.

Google’s algorithm

In order to make web pages appear in high positions in the search results, SEO tries to shape a website according to Google’s algorithm. Although Google’s algorithm remains secret, over a decade of experience in SEO has resulted in a pretty good idea about the important factors.

Read more: ‘What does Google do?’ »

In our view, the factors in Google’s algorithm can be divided into two categories, which determine the ranking of your website together:

1 On-page SEO factors

On-page SEO factors are all the things you can influence on your own website. All kinds of technical aspects of your website are important for the chances of your website to rank in the search engines. WordPress actually is a rather SEO-friendly platform. Combined with our Yoast SEO plugin, most technical challenges are covered.

The structure of your website, your site speed and the content of your site are other important on-page SEO factors. Just browse through the different categories of our SEO blog to find all those important on-page ranking factors.

2 Off-page SEO factors

Next to on-page SEO factors, there are off-page SEO factors. These off-page SEO factors are a bit more difficult to influence, though. The most important off-page factor are the links to your site. The more (relevant) sites link to your website, the higher your ranking in Google will be.

Keep reading: ‘Link building from a holistic SEO perspective’ »

Another off-page factor is the competition or the niche of your specific website. In some niches, it is much harder to rank, than in other niches. The competitiveness of your market therefore also has a large influence on your chances to rank.

Yoast on “What is SEO?”

At Yoast, we believe in what we call holistic SEO. SEO should never be a trick. It should be a sustainable long-term strategy. Using tricks in order to fit Google’s algorithm only works in the short run. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google wants to show their users the best result for a specific keyword. If you want to rank for that keyword, you should simply try to be the best result.

Be the best result!

Being the best result means focusing on technical excellence, great User Experience, flawless website security, and really awesome content. You should focus on all the aspects of website optimization in order to be the best result. That’s what our holistic SEO strategy is all about!

Read on: ‘10 tips for an awesome and SEO-friendly blogpost’ »