Search engine optimization (SEO for short) is simply the process of obtaining website visitors (or traffic) from “free” or “organic” search results in search engines like Google or Bing.
All major search engines have primary search results that are ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. We call these organic results, because they are free and not driven by paid advertisements.
Search engine optimization helps maximize the number of visitors to a particular website or page by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of organic results returned by a given search engine.
Here is Google’s definition of SEO:
Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results.
Notice how Google states they are small modifications? There are lots of small changes you can make to your website or blog that will have positive results on ranking. It’s the process of making changes together, in a planned and methodical manner, that drives big results.
An SEO factor is something that influences where a website or piece of content will rank in a given search engine.
No single, standalone SEO factor will produce top search engine rankings. It is the combination of research, planning, and optimization within the website and outside of the website that produces tangible and long-term results.
SEO factors have varying weights and no SEO consultant knows the exact weight of each or when these weights change. This is because Google (for example) has over 200 SEO factors and over 10,000 sub-signals for ranking.