The Meaning of SEO: Part 1

Wan Wei Han - May 19, 2020

Search Engine Optimization, better known as SEO, is the art of optimizing websites for search engines like Google or Bing. Its main objective is to achieve a good ranking in the natural (unpaid) results.

Now that you know it’s meaning, let’s move on to the five different types of SEO. These search engine optimization techniques work together to improve a website’s ability to rank on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

1. On-page SEO

Everything that’s actually on your website is on-page SEO – that means ALL of your page content (images and text) as well as the HTML code of the page itself.

According to Moz, the ranking factors behind on-page SEO are title tags, URL and good content. 

  • Title tags, or specifically meta title tags inserted into your webpage’s HTML code, help search engines understand what your page is about. 
  • Good URLs show the category hierarchy of your website like, where ‘thisarticle’ is under the ‘blog’ category of ‘yourwebsite’. 
  • Good content supplies a demand and is linkable. 

If you want to start practising on-page SEO, see our tutorial on keyword research.

What does ‘supply a demand’ and ‘linkable’ mean?

‘Supplying a demand’ in pure SEO terms means to target keywords that potential clients would search. For example: A digital marketer looking for clients may publish an article with keywords like ‘digital marketer in Singapore’ or ‘content marketing’ or ‘how to SEO?’ on their website or include them in the text of the main page.

Being ‘linkable’ means content that allows you to link either internally or externally within your own site or to another website. Examples of content that is not linkable would include registration-locked content or unshareable content.

Neil Patel has this awesome cheat sheet on on-page SEO basics and how they go hand-in-hand with content marketing.

2. Technical SEO

“Any sufficiently technical action undertaken with the intent to improve search results” (Russ Jones). Technical SEO is a very broad category that covers a very long list of topics:

  • Crawling
  • Rendering
  • Indexation
  • Mobile
  • SSL
  • Structured data
  • Migrations
  • Page speed
  • Content optimization
  • Status codes
  • Site structure

This list may look intimidating for beginners, however, Google has created the free Search Engine Console that helps us track and analyse our website’s trends. Sign up and verify your website ASAP as data will only start being recorded from the day you register your website.

Here’s a fantastic tutorial by SEMRush on the basics of technical SEO.

3. Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO for websites are like recommendations for people. The more other websites vouch for your website by linking to your content, the more trustworthy it looks to viewers. And the more well-known the website, the greater the mileage.

Moz has a great article on what off-page SEO is all about as well as a superb guide on how to do off-page SEO.

4. Organic SEO

AKA ‘natural’ SEO. Organic SEO refers to all ‘unpaid’ SEO that has been done in order to improve your website’s rank. Basically, SEO refers to any results that don’t come from Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

The Meaning of SEM

SEM/PPC (Pay Per Click)/Paid Search refers to all paid search engine listings. This mainly refers to Google AdWords but also includes social media ads, Microsoft Advertising, and Yahoo Ads.

5. Local SEO

Local SEO - restaurants

‘Restaurant near me’ is a very common search term in Singapore, particularly since we love our food so much! With just 3 words, we can find out nearly all the restaurants and cafes within walking distance AND reviews about the food, service and price range.

And this search habit extends to all types of businesses! So why have only 56% of retailers claimed their listings on Google My Business?

Find out how much SEO juice you’re missing out on with YOAST’s comprehensive Local SEO series.

DIY or Hire Some Help?

It’s not easy being an entrepreneur – there are 101 things that need your attention. Picking up the basics on SEO might be simple, but it takes time and effort away from a business that already needs 200% of your focus. Additionally, basics are far from what you need to gain an edge over competitors. 

Hiring an SEO professional not only saves time but also prevents you from making an expensive mistake.

SEO is the lifeblood of great digital marketing. Without SEO, all your great content strategies and funnels would go to waste.