Contents of this chapter:
What is SEO? | Five Components of SEO | White Hat and Black Hat | Search Engine Market Share

SEO graphic

Welcome to Victoria Technical Training‘s multi-part learning guide for understanding SEO.  This ongoing project is designed as a new approach to help students gain a basis of understanding of what SEO means today.  If you don’t understand something in this article, it will likely be explained in more detail in a later part of the guide.  You can also Contact Us directly with questions or comments.  This guide will be updated periodically over time.

What exactly is SEO?

  • SEO (search engine optimization) workers identify and perform a wide variety of tasks.  These tasks are aimed at getting a website to appear on the first page of search engine results.
  • Search engines like Google will periodically crawl (examine) websites and determine how they should be indexed (organized) into their search query database.  This will determine a website’s placement on search engine results pages, when people search for related keywords and phrases.
  • The search engines also monitor how your online visitors are engaging with your site, which will continue to affect your search rankings.  That’s why it’s important to make sure that your content is well organized, and you’re providing a positive user experience.
  • SEO work can range from research and editing a website’s code & content, to networking with people who can influence the SEO health of a site.
  • Good SEO work is likely to make a substantial difference for a website, however strong results can’t be truthfully guaranteed.
  • It can take six months or longer to see the full effects of SEO work.  That said, the process has been speeding up in recent years.
  • SEO is a continuously changing field.  Therefore, it’s important for SEO workers to stay up-to-date with their knowledge.  Otherwise, they might manage their efforts dis-proportionately to what would be most effective.  Some outdated methods that worked at one time, can now end up harming a site’s rankings.
  • With the wide range of variables in today’s SEO field, it’s difficult to address a couple points of it and expect that to be enough.  Taking some time to develop a balanced SEO strategy that’s customized to your site’s unique needs, is considered to be a very high-return activity.

Five components of SEO

Four SEO components graphic

  • On-Site SEO:   This represents the bulk of the SEO work that’s done in the back-end of a website.  It focuses on optimizing web page elements.  This often improves the site in addition to helping search engines and users understand it more clearly.
  • Technical SEO:  This refers to broader optimizations to the website and host.  It can include topics such as site loading speed, responsiveness, and security certificates.
  • Local SEO:   Local SEO is for businesses that offer goods and services in a specific city, town, or region.  This helps to make them more visible online to people who are nearby.
  • Content:  This includes the images, text, videos and any other media or information shown on a site.  Content is the substance that a website offers.  It should be created for the user first, and then optimized for search engines second.  In order to rank well, it should be unique and relevant to the overall topic of your site.  Pages will usually rank poorly if they contain duplicate content from other websites.
  • Off-Site SEO:  This refers to tasks that are done outside of the website to help improve its search ranking.  This can include finding ways to receive links from well established sites, pointing to the one you’re working on.  It can also mean networking with people and organizations of authority that relate to the industry of your business.  Since SEO is based heavily on reputation, there’s tremendous value that can be brought to your site in these ways.

What is ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’ SEO?

Black Hat

Black hat SEO

  • Black Hat SEO tactics attempt to manipulate the search engine’s interpretation of the site
  • As long as search engines have been around, people have been trying to trick them
  • Rankings are often penalized as a result of algorithm releases by the search engines
  • Black Hat techniques are less effective and shorter lived than they used to be

White Hat

White hat SEO

  • These types of SEO tactics fall within the ethics put forth by the search engines
  • White Hat tactics are long-lasting, and encouraged by search engines
  • It focuses on relevance, quality, authority, and a positive user experience
  • Such techniques contribute to organization and accessability of information on the web

We talk a lot about Google…
but what about other search engines?

We often refer to Google’s perspective because they dominate the search market in Canada by about two thirds.  The other popular search engines are likely to rank you based on similar criteria.

Canadian search engine market share – 2017

*from Statista




Ranking Factors (coming soon)

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This guide is protected by copyright. Copyright © Florian Ritmeester, 2019.