Until recently, search engine optimization, or SEO in short, used to be viewed as the most important factor in driving traffic to a website or blog. Things seem to have changed lately. SEO has been receiving a lot of not-so-favourable press from people who think it has been given more credit than it deserves. They claim that social media sites are better at driving traffic to a blog or website than SEO. Does this mean SEO is really overrated?
SEO is defined as the process of increasing the visibility of a website or blog in a search engine’s natural or unpaid (also called organic) search results. In simpler words, it is a technique to make your website or blog appear on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP) without you having to pay any money to Google, Bing or other search engines. In the days before social media, SEO was really the answer to paid search results and advertisements.
So how does SEO work? The first thing you must understand is that SEO is not a plugin or a programming language. It is about designing and optimizing your blog or website in such as way that it achieves the highest possible ranking in the organic (unpaid) search results. The only other alternative is to pay expensive fees to the search engines. Another thing you must understand is that it is not an exact science. Much of it consists of researching the right keywords and trials and errors to get the desired results.
Search engines utilize special algorithms to try to assess the relevance of your website and its contents to a search term typed into the search box by an internet user. The algorithms also try to assess the quality, originality and trustworthiness of the content. In the simpler days when search engines were new, all you had to do to gain favour with the algorithm was to stuff your website with carefully selected keywords and your website would appear right at the top of the SERP.
Since then, search engines have become vastly more sophisticated. These days, simply stuffing your website or blog with keywords doesn’t produce the desired results. They have incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) that evaluates a website in ways that most people can’t even begin to understand. These days, keywords are not enough to get your high search ranking; other qualitative and aesthetic factors such as placement of advertisements and visual appeal of the website also make a huge difference.
This brings us back to the question whether SEO is overrated or not. There are experts on both sides of the debate. But the fact remains that SEO is still relevant even in today’s search engines. But unlike in the past when it put heavy emphasis on finding and using the right keywords, now it takes into account several other factors to make the website more visible. The techniques have changed; the purpose is the same. SEO is still relevant, although it may not be as important as before.
Do you pay attention to SEO?
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