What Does SEO Stand For?
Funny you should ask – just last night at our weekly trivia contest, “what does SEO stand for” showed up on the big screen and, I think, I was the only person in the room that got the question right. I suspect that me helping our Trivia guy with his website may have had something to do with it, but I didn’t feel the need to bring that up. So, what does SEO stand for? The acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization and, as easy as that is, it underscores a critically important and complex profession. And that’s usually the next question we here after we define what “SEO” stands for. What does SEO mean?
What does SEO mean?
SEO is the art of influencing a websites “rankability” according to the search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and the others in such a way that the given website will appear higher in the Search Engine Results, or, as we geeks call it, the “SERPS” (Search Engine Results Page).
SEO is a fine are of technical knowledge, business knowledge, ability to research, an understanding of how thing change and how they stay the same, and finally, a lot of patience. There was a time when we could influence the rankings of a page practically overnight but those days are long gone now and we find ourselves instead often waiting months to get to Page 1 of the results. But that’s OK – the new normal for SEO has thinned the herds as others find easier ways to make a living, leaving more opportunities for those of us that are still having fun and enjoy the challenge.
There are a few other terms that go along with SEO that you may bump into:
- SEM: Search Engine Marketing – basically, a larger part of the pie, if that makes sense. Whereas SEO is concerned primarily with a business’s website and it’s outreach and influence, SEM is concerned with more of an overall holistic marketing perspective to include things like social media and such.
- PPC: Pay Per Click – this is when a website owner pays Google to show up on the first page of the Google results. The catch here is that the more popular the search term they wish to show up for, the most each click costs them. And, they have to pay for each and every click whether they actually make any money from it or not. It’s a numbers game. An attorney knows that for every 100 clicks he gets for his “Best Divorce Lawyer in Atlanta” keyword, he’ll get 1 actual customer that pays. If each click costs him $5.00, then he’s paid $500 to get that one customer which, for a lawyer, is a pretty good deal. It is not unusual to see PPC costs in the hundreds of dollars for extremely popular keywords
- SERP: Search Engine Results Page – this is the page you are shown after you run your search. Search for “Plastic Surgeon Atlanta” and you’ll be shown a listing of 10 (by default) plastic surgeons that Google has determined have the best websites to match your search critiria
- On Page SEO: On Page SEO pertains to the efforts that go into making a website agreeable to Google in terms of how it is structured. Google expects to find certain elements in certain places and when it can’t find them, it makes it more difficult to “crawl” that page. The more difficult a page is to crawl, the less it actually gets crawled and therefore, the less likely it will rank. Neil Patle produced a great infographic that explains the structure of a perfectly optimized page. See it here. We also go into it in great detail on our own SEO page here at SnugData.
- Off Page SEO: Off page SEO pertains to those things that a typical webmaster has little to no control over. The most common, and most important of these is “backlinks”. Backlinks are when another site mentions something on your site and links to it. These are, for the most part, counted as votes for your site’s popularity but unlike voting in the normal sense, it’s important where these votes come from. A backlink from a popular and credible site carries more weight than a backlink from an unknown site. Many SEOs spend the majority of their time working to get backlinks from popular sites. Brian Dean, at Backlinko, wrote a lengthy and detailed article that goes into good detail on perfecting a site’s “off page SEO” in ways that are agreeable with Google.
There are approximately 3, 546,881 more terms and acronyms that pertain to SEO overall, but I wanted to show you the ones that most closely relate to the actual type of marketing involved with SEO.
To get an idea of what goes into SEO, take a look at the following short video:
Cost Effective SEO
The last part of the conversation often hinges around how cost effective SEO is and how soon do clients recognize Return on Investment (ROI). The answer, as is so often the case, is “it depends”. The factors surrounding SEO are many and varied and some businesses absolutely benefit from it while others do not. I’ve worked with clients who run businesses that are entirely successful on word-of-mouth alone and, as much as I hated to say it, there wasn’t much I could do to improve their bottom line. This is not uncommon for the small 1 or 2 man show that has enough business to handle and, if I SEO’d their website and attracted more business, there’s a very good chance it would be too much for them. These kinds of business, I offer free advice to but do not engage in any kind of SEO commitment.
But for the vast majority of other businesses, SEO – when implemented correctly – is entirely cost effective. There are no other marketing efforts a business can undertake that even comes close to matching the benefits SEO brings. It’s not uncommon, and in fact I talk to clients about it on a regular basis, to expect 500% ROI in a matter of months. A company that invests $1000 monthly with me will see $5000 in revenue increase in a very short amount of time and this is not uncommon. I challenge anybody to find any other marketing that pays off that well.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. The original intent was to answer the question “what does SEO stand for”, but I went a bit further to provide additional information on what SEO actually is and how it can help a business attract new customers.
Thanks for reading!