Different types of SEO

Learn the different ways you can impact how and where your organization shows up in search engine results.
Person searching from desktop

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial if you want to look good in the results of search engines like Google. SEO impacts both where and how you show up in those results, but if you’re just starting to dive into SEO, it can be a bit confusing.

The number of different types of SEO varies depending on who you ask. To get started, let’s look at the different types of SEO with a brief overview of each. This can help you determine where you need the most work or even the most help.

SEO – organic

Let’s start with the term SEO itself. Often when someone uses the term SEO, they’re referring to all activities and investments related to how and where you appear in search engine results. Other times, they’re only referring to organic, as opposed to paid.

Organic is where you don’t pay the search engine to show up. You may still pay an SEO company or individual to help you with this type of SEO, but the key difference is that you’re not paying the search engine company.

SEM – paid

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing (SEM). It seems like it would be interchangeable with the term SEO, right?

Typically, when people refer to SEM, they’re talking about paid advertising through search engines. In other words, you’re paying a search engine like Google or Bing to show up in an ad. Google used to call this Adwords and now refers to it as Google Ads.

On-page vs. off-page

All SEO efforts can be categorized as either on-page or off-page. On-page simply means it’s something you do on a specific page on your website. Off-page means it happens on a different website.

Some types of SEO are always on-page while others are always off-page. Others may be either on-page or off-page, depending on the specifics.

Local SEO

If you want to show up when someone is near your location and searches for you, local SEO is the type of SEO you need. Your local SEO efforts should help you be more likely to show up when someone is searching for you, your organization, or the products and services you provide, and they’re also near your business, physically speaking.

Usually, that involves staying on top of your listings in business directories like Google My Business (which feeds data to Google Maps) and others. It can also include a strategy for getting good reviews.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is all about your website being set up well from a technical standpoint so that Google can easily and quickly index it and rank it appropriately. It involves code and server speed, among other factors.

Content SEO

If your SEO strategy includes creating blog articles, white papers, or social media content, you’re utilizing content SEO. Ultimately, search engines are trying to find the content that answers the question people ask. To show up well, you need to publish high-quality content that answers those questions regularly.

Link building

When Google came along, it was unique in that it factored a website’s popularity into where it showed up in search rankings. It did that by counting each link from another website as a vote. Link building is a strategy where you intentionally try to get links back to your website from other high-quality websites to increase those votes.

Black hat vs. white hat

Black hat SEO is used to refer to any tactics that are trying to trick search engines into giving you higher rankings. White hat SEO, on the other hand, is abiding by the rules. The confusion here is that any SEO agency or professional will claim they use only white hat SEO tactics. Ten different SEO professionals will have ten different definitions of white hat SEO and black hat SEO. If you’re concerned your current SEO efforts might be black hat, get a second opinion.

Of course, when considering all these types of SEO, some are likely more important for you than others, and some need more work than others. Consult an SEO professional if you need to determine where you need help or which area your current SEO company is working in.

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About Tim Priebe

Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of T&S Online Marketing. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.

Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.