Two Fundamentals of SEO: Relevance and Authority



Two Fundamentals of SEO:
Relevance and Authority


Have you ever thought about how much the Internet has changed since the first page was posted online some twenty years ago? Next to email, what we do most with the Internet is search. Searching is the gateway to everything we do online. Wherever you type a word or phrase (search term) into a box, press enter and wait for a list of results, there’s a search engine at work.

The topic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can become technical and complicated very quickly.Perhaps you just started blogging and need to progress in your SEO knowledge, concept-by-concept, continually building your mastery without becoming overwhelmed. This blog post is for you. We’ll demystify and simplify SEO so you’ll understand how it factors into the success of your website. But first, we’ll quickly set the stage for how a search engine works.

How A Search Engine Works

A search engine process has three components:

• an input phrase or search term (the words typed into the search box)
• an algorithm or the step-by -step procedure used to find matches to the search term
• the results, a listing of websites with links that relate to the search term

Now we understand the components of the search engine process, we next want to know what we can do to “play nice” with the search engine so that our site is listed high in the results when certain search terms are entered.

What Is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is simply making improvement on and off your website in order to gain more exposure in the search engines results which will ultimately lead to more visitors finding you for the right reasons and then going to your website. Search engines constantly scan the Internet, cataloging and classifying all its content. And then it quickly delivers relevant and authoritative results relating to the search term.

What Is Relevance?

When the search term “social media” is entered, a search engine wants to show a list of results that are relevant to the topic of “social media.” So in a split second, it scans all the relevant pages and loads this data into its algorithm. But how is relevance determined in the first place?

In the split second that the search engine is evaluating pages, it is also evaluating many other factors including how the content is written. Search engines make a very clear distinction between content that is about “social media” versus content that is relevant to other search terms such as “social media tools” or “social media platforms.” While “search engine” is a semantic term, “social media tools” or “social media platforms” are themes that are related to “social media.” Search engines are able to pick up both semantic and thematic connections between words and concepts.

Here’s another example: A search engine picks up webpages that contain content about coaching are extremely relevant to the search term “life coaching,” but also includes websites with content about “business coaching,” “executive coaching,” “coaching skills,” and even “mentoring.” When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing what goes on behind the scenes after we press enter! But relevance is not the only attribute a search engine evaluates. It also rates the site’s authority.

And Why Do I Need To Know About Authority?

Because websites and the information they contain are, for the most part, unregulated, allowing anyone to post anything. Before including your website in its search results, the search engine will make an effort to assess whether your site is trustworthy. Does your site have authority in your topic?

A very common way that search engines determine the authority of a webpage or a domain is by evaluating the links that point to it. You can think of a link as an online vote for your site. For example, when you make a comment on this post, you will leave your link on my website. Essentially you are saying “I trust your content enough that I am willing to reference your blog and possibly even send traffic to your site.” It is a vote of trust and as the search engines scour the web reading, evaluating and storing all the data that they can find on all the pages of the Internet, they pick up on your “votes.”

A word of warning here: This is not a popularity contest with the objective of accumulating as many links as possible. That is a very bad idea! Search engines have safeguards in place to prevent such abuse. They are looking at the quality of the link; so don’t try to play games. That can actually work against you.

A search engine is more likely to trust a link coming from a well-respected or well-related site. A link from a one-month-old blog having no relevance to you or your niche, that links to a many other sites is not given the same value as a highly relevant, well-established site. From a search engine perspective, some links carry more clout than others in casting their vote for your website and determining your site’s authority or ranking.

To Sum It Up

Way to go! You have progressed in your SEO knowledge, and have laid the foundation for mastery. By understanding how a search engine works and the importance of both relevance and authority you can improve these factors on your site. In a future blog, I will cover specific things you can do to capitalize on this understanding. These improvements will ultimately lead to better search engine exposure and more visitors to your website.

Please remember to post your comments and questions. Olga Hermans VA is here to serve you. As you ask questions and make comments, it helps all of our readers to gain additional insight into the many facets of social media.

photo credit: MoneyBlogNewz via photopin

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  1. denny hagel says:

    Excellent info Olga! Working hard to understand how all of this works…this article really helps!

  2. Thanks for the useful info, Olga! I am constantly in learning mode!

  3. Ruth Hegarty says:

    Thanks for the great explanation, Olga. I really have “progressed in my SEO knowledge” as a result of reading it! There is so much to learn about the internet, isn’t there?

  4. BarbaraJPeters says:

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information. So much to learn and understand with social media.

  5. Sherie says:

    I really like the way that you explained SEO and relevance and authority. I have found the entire SEO experience to be a bit confusing, before. So, you really cleared up a lot of questions for me. Thank you, Olga!

  6. Lorrie says:

    For months I have been getting hundreds of hits on a blog post about the negative feedback loop. Most of the visitors, some 700/month for 8 months running, are coming to the log from a google search on the term ‘negative feedback loop’. Sometimes flukes are just as good!

  7. Thanks for sharing the information on SEO. It is wonderful to read your blog and learn more about it.

  8. This is such a help, Olga. I finally loaded an SEO plugin a few months ago and have been working towards this – sure wish I’d taken the time to learn and understand all this when I started my blog 4 years ago. Thanks for these tips – much appreciated!

  9. Olga, I like how concise your explanation was – perfect for us beginners. It’s so daunting to me to do DIY SEO because of the systems in place to penalize certain actions. It feels like a minefield to those of us who don’t know exactly what to avoid. Thanks for the introduction here.

  10. Sue says:

    Olga, I love learning from you. Gives me so much clarity the way you share. Thanks for being a great teacher!

  11. Lorii Abela says:

    A big PLUS for my SEO insights! Thanks Olga.

  12. Elizabeth Maness says:

    Great information on SEO. This is a confusing topic for many. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Kelly Green says:

    Thanks Olga for this breakdown! SEO always gives me a headache, but I know it’s important for my brand!

  14. Thank you for your informative post Olga. I am slowly finding my way through the blogging world and your advice on SEO is very helpful!

  15. Spot on, Olga. You explained that very well, very clearly. Great article!

  16. Love this article. SEO is something that I personally need to start paying attention to more. I have bookmarked your article so I can use it as a reference. Thank you!

  17. Great article, Olga! I will be bookmarking this to come back to it when I need to, thanks :)

  18. Excellent explanation of such technical jargon as SEO, Olga. You have a way of making the impossible, possible thank you.

  19. Olga, I have been learning more and more about SEO and this was very helpful. Thanks for posting it!

  20. Excellent information about SEO. It’s amazing that they can also tell who is trying to scam the engines and penalize accordingly. Good content with good backlinks really does work.

  21. Sharon O'Day says:

    Rarely does someone go back and explain the fundamentals of SEO as well as you have, Olga. What a valuable piece!

  22. So much relevant information Olga. Thank you!

  23. SEO is a BIG subject and seems to be an ever changing and moving target! So thank you for some more great information to help us succeed!

  24. Kim Hawkins says:

    SEO can seem so daunting but the more information I read the less formidable it becomes. Thanks for pointing out the “authority” factor, I had not really considered it. Great article Olga.

  25. Edmund Lee says:

    Thanks for diving into the details of SEO and many of the terms involved in the process. With how things are progressing, this is something that we need to become more and more aware of moving forward.

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