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What is SEO?

SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. It’s the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or other search engines’ – 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 our approach to SEO here at Yoast.

Google’s algorithm

In order for web pages to appear in a prominent position in search results, SEO practices attempt to make a website conform to Google’s algorithm. Although Google’s algorithm remains secret, over a decade of practical experience in SEO means that we have a pretty good idea about the most important factors.

Read more: What does Google do? »

We’ve found that the factors in Google’s algorithm can be divided into two main categories, which together determine the ranking of your website:

1 On-page SEO factors

On-page SEO factors are all those things you can influence from within your actual website. All manner of technical aspects of your website are important to improve the likelihood of your website ranking well in the search engines. WordPress is actually a pretty SEO-friendly platform. Combined with our Yoast SEO plugin, most technical challenges can be overcome.

The structure of your website, your site speed and the content of your site are all crucial on-page SEO factors. To find out about these all-important on-page ranking factors, have a look through the various categories of our SEO blog.

2 Off-page SEO factors

As well as on-page SEO factors, there are the off-page SEO factors. These off-page SEO factors are rather more difficult to influence, though. The most important of these off-page factors is the number and quality of links pointing towards your site. The more quality, relevant sites that link to your website, the higher your position in Google will be.

Keep reading: Link building from a holistic SEO perspective »

Another off-page factor is your competition relating to the niche of your particular business. In some niches it is much harder to rank than in others. The competitiveness of your market therefore also has a major influence on your chances of ranking.

Yoast on “What is SEO?”

At Yoast, we practice what we call holistic SEO. Never try to fool Google – you should use a sustainable long-term strategy. Using tricks to make your site fit Google’s algorithm only ever works in the short term. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s online information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google wants to show its users the best result for any particular keyword. If you want to rank for that keyword, your aim should be 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 truly awesome content. You should work on all aspects of website optimization in order to be the best result. That’s what an holistic SEO strategy is all about!

Read on: 10 tips for an awesome and SEO-friendly blog post »