What is SEO? • SEO for beginners • Yoast
Marieke van de Rakt
Marieke van de Rakt is the CEO of Yoast. Her main focus is on growing the company. She is really passionate about maintaining open and friendly company culture. Marieke is also heavily involved in the marketing of Yoast and with Yoast SEO Academy: the online courses platform.
At the moment, everything happens online. So, perhaps, you’ve decided to quickly set up a website for your business or organization. Or, you’ve decided to revive your existing website. When looking for tips you keep encountering this term “SEO”. What does it stand for? Here, we’ll explain what it means and how to approach it best!
What is SEO?
SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. It’s the practice of optimizing your web pages to make them reach a high position in the search results of Google or other search engines. SEO focuses on improving the rankings in the organic – aka non-paid – search results. If you have a website and you want to get more traffic, it should be part of your marketing efforts.
The rankings of these search results are determined by Google’s algorithm. Although Google’s algorithm remains secret, years of experience in SEO have resulted in a pretty good idea about the important ranking factors. In our view, the factors in Google’s algorithm can be divided into two categories:
On-page SEO factors
The ranking of your website is partly decided by on-page factors. On-page SEO factors are all those things you can influence from within your actual website. These factors include technical aspects (e.g. the quality of your code and site speed) and content-related aspects, like the structure of your website or the quality of the copy on your website. These are all crucial on-page SEO factors.
Off-page SEO factors
In addition to on-page SEO factors, there are off-page SEO factors. These factors include links from other websites, social media attention, and other marketing activities outside your own website. These off-page SEO factors can be rather difficult to influence. 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.
Read more: 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.
At Yoast, we practice what we call ‘holistic SEO‘. This means that your primary goal should be to build and maintain the best possible website. Don’t try to fool Google, but use a sustainable long-term strategy. Ranking will come automatically if your website is of extremely high quality. Google wants to get its users to the right place, as its mission is to index all the world’s online information and make it universally accessible and useful.
In addition to this, Google, of course, wants to make money. To achieve this, they have to make sure people keep using Google. This means that they’ll have to show people results they are looking for. So if your website is the best in your market, Google wants it to rank high in the results.
Permanently ranking well in Google demands an extensive SEO strategy focused on every aspect of your website and its marketing. The technical side, the User eXperience (UX), the content on your website: all need to be top-notch. To keep ranking well in Google, you should develop – what we call – a holistic SEO approach.
How does Yoast help you?
One of the main advantages of the Yoast SEO plugin is that it helps you create high-ranking content. Our free SEO and readability analysis gives you detailed suggestions to create copy humans and search engines enjoy! Yoast SEO Premium will even help you optimize your content for synonyms and related keywords, and on top of that, you can boost your site structure with our internal linking suggestions.
And there’s more. Check out online SEO training courses: we’ll teach you vital SEO skills you can apply immediately. We offer a set of free SEO courses, such as SEO for beginners.
Want to take a deep dive in SEO? Together with all handy features of Yoast SEO Premium you’ll get access to all our premium courses, for instance on SEO copywriting and Local SEO. Find out how to outrank your competition!
So, what is SEO? SEO is the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s – search results. At Yoast, we believe that holistic SEO is the best way to rank your website because you focus on making every aspect of your site awesome. Don’t use any black-hat SEO tricks, because eventually, this will have negative consequences for your rankings. Instead, practice sustainable SEO, with your user in mind, and you will benefit in the long run.
Keep reading: How to rank high in Google »