Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Your constantly-updated definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and collection of videos and articles

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or webpage on a search engine results page (SERP) so as to make a company’s website more discoverable (i.e., on the first page/s), thereby driving traffic and sales. Tedious, involving technical and business decisions, and not guaranteeing results—it nonetheless provides lasting benefits.

SEO often involves the concerted effort of multiple departments within an organization, including the design, marketing, and content production teams. While some SEO work entails business analysis (e.g., comparing one’s content with competitors’), a sizeable part depends on the ranking algorithms of various search engines, which may change with time. Nevertheless, a rule of thumb is that websites and webpages with higher-quality content, more external referral links, and more user engagement will rank higher on an SERP.

The SEO process includes six general phases:

  1. Research, including business research, competitor analysis, current state assessment, and keyword searching

  2. Planning and strategy, including decisions on how to handle content, build links to the website, manage social media presence and technical implementation strategies

  3. Implementation, where optimization decisions on a site’s webpages and the website as a whole are executed

  4. Monitoring, where the activity of web spiders, traffic, search engine rankings, and other metrics are observed for producing reports on which assessment will be performed

  5. Assessment, involving checking the summarized effects of the strategy (and its implementation) against the SEO process’s stated targets

  6. Maintenance, where both minor or major problems with the website’s operation are handled as they arise (e.g., new content that needs optimization according to the strategy)

The SEO process targets mostly organic links and search engine result placement; still, it is often complemented by more aggressive measures (e.g., paid search ads) and is often part of traditional marketing campaigns.

Questions related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What is the definition of search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization is a way to make websites easier to find on search engine result pages (SERPs). This helps users to find you quickly and allows you to increase revenue. It is essential to boost the website's organic (unpaid) traffic by enhancing its authority and relevancy for particular search searches. 

To help search engines find your website, optimize meta tags, keywords, and backlinks. It's also essential to focus on accessibility improvements, as this video explains.

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Collaboration between marketing, design, and content development departments is necessary for SEO initiatives. The ultimate goal of SEO is to rank higher on SERPs and draw in visitors and possible customers to a website.

How does search engine optimization SEO work?

The SEO process involves six key phases:

  1. Research and strategy: Study industry trends and analyze the company's goals and objectives. Identify relevant keywords for targeted marketing.

  2. Execution: This involves creating and publishing content. This video highlights the importance of understanding user needs and creating valuable and relevant content. High-quality content is crucial to the success of websites, platforms, or businesses.

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  1. Promotion: The next step is to promote your content through social media, ads, and email marketing. 

  2. Monitoring: Lastly, track web traffic, rankings, click-through rates, and other metrics to generate meaningful reports.

What is an example of SEO?

A local grocery store wants to improve its online presence and get more customers. The store owner uses SEO to find important keywords like "local grocery store," “refined flour,” and "hand-wash soap." These are words customers often search for on search engines. The grocery store can track website traffic, keyword rankings, and user interactions. It can also monitor its online performance using tools. Regular assessment can refine your strategy to reach the target audience better. 

How much does search engine optimization cost?

SEO costs depend on project size, industry competition, and business goals. 

  • Small businesses and local enterprises can choose low-cost SEO services. These services start at a few hundred dollars per month or less. They can focus on local optimization and targeted keywords. 

  • Medium-to large-scale businesses can spend several hundred to thousands of dollars to create and improve their content. 

  • Larger enterprises operating in highly competitive markets may spend thousands of dollars monthly on SEO campaigns. The campaigns can include global outreach, in-depth analytics, and aggressive link-building initiatives. 

How to improve search engine optimization?

To boost your website's SEO, use keywords in headings, titles, and meta descriptions. 

  • Craft high-quality, engaging content that addresses user intent and incorporates multimedia elements. 

  • Prioritize mobile optimization for a seamless user experience across devices. 

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  • Get reliable links by guest posting, reaching out more, and making valuable content.

  • Use social media platforms to increase traffic and online visibility.

  • Focus on accessibility by considering diverse user needs and conducting thorough testing. Learn about the ten principles of accessibility for both web and mobile design in this video.

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  • To stay relevant, update and refresh content regularly. Fresh content shows search engines that your site is active.

  • Stay updated with industry trends and algorithm changes, adjusting your strategy accordingly. 

  • Utilize Google Analytics tools to track important metrics like traffic and conversion rates. Adjust your strategy based on performance data.

What is search engine optimization for YouTube?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for YouTube is fine-tuning your videos and channel to boost their rankings and enhance their discoverability on YouTube. YouTube optimization improves critical measures like follower count, brand awareness, website visits, and earnings. It involves optimizing your channel's page, video titles, playlists, metadata, descriptions, thumbnails, and videos. SEO for YouTube is about reaching more viewers and ranking higher in your video category using relevant keywords, catchy visuals, and compelling descriptions.

What is the difference between search engine optimization and search engine marketing?

This article on SEO vs. SEM discusses the differences between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for freelancers and entrepreneurs. The main goal of SEO is to enhance a website's content and structure. This naturally helps it appear higher in search engine results. It involves keyword research, on-page optimization, and backlink building to improve a site's ranking. 

SEM uses paid advertising to make a website more visible in search engine results. Some marketing strategies, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, charge a fee for each click on an ad. SEM produces faster results but needs ongoing commitment. In comparison, SEO is a long-term, organic method.

What is search engine optimization and social media?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media are different yet related elements of digital marketing. SEO makes a website easier to find by improving its content, structure, and backlinks. It focuses on keywords, meta tags, and quality content to enhance organic search rankings. In contrast, social media relies on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media helps create brand awareness, connect with audiences, and share content. 

By combining both strategies, you can create a complete digital marketing plan. This can help you build a solid online presence and reach a broader audience.

How to improve SEO with UX?

To rank high on search engines and give visitors a good experience, you can:

  • Optimize site speed.

  • Develop a mobile-friendly design to cater to users on various devices.

  • Prioritize engaging and relevant content, ensuring it's easy to read and navigate.

  • Improve site structure, navigation, and accessibility. This video discusses the importance of web accessibility and highlights the interconnected nature of accessibility, usability, and SEO.

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By focusing on the users' needs, you can enhance the overall website experience and improve SEO by meeting search engines' criteria for quality and relevance.

Where to learn more about search engine optimization (SEO)?

Mobile UX Design: The Beginner's Guide course can help you learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in detail. Understanding mobile UX can contribute to overall website performance, including SEO.

The article SEO vs. SEM for Freelancers and Entrepreneurs: Improve Your Marketing Strategy provides a deep dive into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Literature on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Here’s the entire UX literature on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Take a deep dive into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with our course Mobile UX Design: The Beginner's Guide .

In the “Build Your Portfolio” project, you’ll find a series of practical exercises that will give you first-hand experience with the methods we cover. You will build on your project in each lesson so once you have completed the course you will have a thorough case study for your portfolio.

Mobile User Experience Design: Introduction, has been built on evidence-based research and practice. It is taught by the CEO of, Frank Spillers, author, speaker and internationally respected Senior Usability practitioner.

All open-source articles on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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