What is SEO and why do I need it?

Jun 27 by Kimberly Aris

Search Engine Optimisation is a process that focuses on organic search results. Search engines were first created in the early 90’s. Google and Yahoo both took off in 1996. This is when the SEO concept became necessary, after the rapid increase in the number of web pages available. Website owners needed a way to attract traffic and reach the top positions in search engine results pages, in order to make the websites profitable.

What you’re about to read is focused on answering 3 essential questions:

  • What is SEO?
  • Why is SEO important?
  • How do search engines work?

What is SEO?

According to Wikipedia, SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website in organic results of different search engines.

SEO is a marketing domain that has changed continuously in the recent years. We only have to look at the large number of updates that have been given by the Penguin and Panda algorithms. You can see the interest in developing the SEO concept, and what it involves.

There are many factors that a search engine uses in order to position a page. There are two basic factors: the authority and the relevance.

  • The Authority – reflects the popularity of a website; the more popular a page or a website is, the more valuable the information it contains is. This factor takes more elements into account, since it is based on the experience of the user. It promotes content sharing, that is why more users have found it useful.
  • The Relevance – is the relationship that a page has in relation to a certain search term. This is not simply about creating a page that includes that term, by repeatedly using it in the content. A search engine is based on hundreds of on-site factors that determine the relevance.

SEO can be divided into two groups: the on-site SEO and the off-site SEO.

  • On-site: The on-site SEO focuses on relevance. It uses content to optimise the website for search engines. The On-site SEO includes optimising keywords, loading time, user experience, code optimisation and URL formats.
  • Off-site: The off-site SEO focuses on the external factors that have an effect on your website. These factors include: the number and quality of links, social media presence, mentions in local media, authority of the brand and performance in search results.

SEO can make a difference whether or not we follow the recommendations of the search engines. That’s where two SEO types are differentiated: Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO

  • Black Hat SEO: This process includes attempts to improve search engine rankings of a website through unethical, or contradictory to guidelines, practices. Examples of Black Hat SEO are Cloaking, Spinning, SPAM in forums and blog comments, or Keyword Stuffing. Black hat SEO can provide short term results, but it is a risky strategy and does not add value to your website.
  • White Hat SEO: It includes all ethically correct actions that meet the guidelines of search engines to improve the position of a web page in the search results. Since search engines give more importance to pages that best respond to a user’s search, the White Hat techniques look at making a more relevant page for search engines by providing valuable information to its users.

2. Why is SEO important?

SEO is important because it makes your website stand out in search engines, which consequently makes your website easier to find by users.

SEO is needed to help search engines decide which page is more useful for the user. It helps eliminate irrelevant information, and results in an improved user experience.

Let’s look at an example to see how this works:

  • Take for example an e-commerce website dedicated to the sale of children’s books. For the term “coloring books” there are 673,000 monthly searches. If you were to attract 22% of users that have searched this term that would put your website on the first position in the search results. This would mean around 148,000 visits per month.
  • How much are the 148,000 visits worth? Let’s say that the average spending per click is 0.20 $. You would get a 29,000 $ per month income. This is just for one country. If you have a business oriented in several countries then the figure changes. Hourly, 1.4 billion searches will be performed in the world. Out of all those searches, 70% of clicks will be on the organic results. Consider the fact that 75% of users will not reach the second page of the search engine results. That’s why you have to work on positioning your website at the top! That’s why SEO is important!

3. How do search engines work?

Running a search engine can be summarised in two steps: Tracking and Indexing.


A search engine goes through the web tracking process using bots. These bots walk through all the pages using links (hence the importance of a good link structure).

The tracking process begins with a list of web addresses, of previous scans and sitemaps provided by other websites. Once these websites are accessed, bots seek links to other pages to visit them. The bots are particularly attracted by new sites and changes in existing web content.

The bots decide themselves which sites to visit, how often and how long to track the web. That’s why it is important to have an optimum load time and updated content.

It is very common for a web page to restrict tracking certain pages, or content, to prevent them from appearing in search results.

You can tell the search engines bots not to crawl/track certain pages through the file “robots.txt”.


Once the bots have tracked a website and have collected the necessary information, your pages get included in an index where they are sorted according to their content, their authority and their relevance. So, when we use a search engine to find a certain term, it will be much easier to show results that are best related to our search term.

At first, search engines used the number of times a word was repeated on a page as a factor that determined relevance. When searching, the terms were tracked to find relevant pages. The results would often show just repeated content.

From that point on, the search engines become more sophisticated and based their rates on hundreds of different aspects, such as publication date, photos and videos. This way the problem was solved. No more searching using the term “house” and seeing a page with the word “home” written thousands of times!

Once the pages are tracked and indexed, there comes a point when the search engine uses the algorithms. The algorithms are formulas and computer processes that convert questions into answers. Such algorithms search the index seeking the answers that best fit the question being asked. This is done based on hundreds of signals transmitted from websites, latest content uploads, regions or PageRanks.