Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing a website's visibility in natural search engine results.
The SEO process involves improving components of a website to satisfy relevance criteria of search engines for specific keyword searches. Although search engines don't make the details of their ranking algorithms public, ranking signals are continuously discovered through vigorous testing, patent analysis, industry conferences, and community discussion.
SEO has greatly evolved since webmasters began optimizing sites for search engines in the mid-1990s. Early SEO consisted of rudimentary tactics that matched less sophisticated search engines of the time, whose algorithms looked at easy to control factors such as meta keyword tags and keyword density.
Today's search engines have dramatically improved their ability to deliver the most relevant results to user queries. Search engine optimization is no longer about manipulating ranking algorithms; it is about satisfying them, with targeted, user-friendly web content, intelligent information design, accessible construction, and a strategic social media presence.
SEO techniques are typically grouped into two categories: white hat strategies, which add to overall website value, and deceptive, black hat tactics that go against search engine guidelines. Black hat SEO usually provides short-term results, often leading to search engine penalties and diminished user-experience. In contrast, white hat SEO focuses on sustainable solutions based on industry quality guidelines, resulting in long-lasting search visibility that endures the test of algorithm updates and real visitors.Learn why SEO works Back to Springboard SEO's glossary