Search Engine Optimization
Information has always been a commodity. Knowledge is power, as they say. Well, in the age of the internet and mobile connectivity, the ability to quickly access information is vital for everyone in the world and if you have that information in a website, app, or another online form, delivering that content to a web user often leads to further success. But the web contains trillions of pages.
How does anyone find anything in the middle of that?
Only through search engines have people been able to efficiently find what they want, what they need and what they’re willing to pay good money for. Products, entertainment, professional services, insight in research and so much more. So, to increase their chances of success, whether it’s to build a following, attract clients, sell products and services or all of the above, companies and individuals alike have learned how to make their websites more appealing by understanding and speaking the language of those in search of them. They know that if people want something online, they’ll search for it using specific words and phrases. They’ll trust some websites more than others and they will react positively towards certain sites because of basic human nature. This is what search engine optimization is all about: preparation, content, and understanding.
But SEO is not a button you press or some one-time evaluation. SEO is an ongoing process, a way of thinking about your website. Preparing and creating its content. Connecting via social media and everything else that touches it. It’s about understanding those you hope to connect with, using the right words to describe and support your presence online and to honestly, accurately communicate with the world.
How does it work?
One of the central goals of search engine optimization is to get a website to rank as highly as possible for specific keywords and phrases. The ranking refers to where your website appears on SERPs, or search engine result pages, which are the pages you see after you type in a search on Google, Bing, or another search engine. So think about how you use a search. You enter a search term, which is the text about something you’re looking for. It could be one word or many. A person, place or thing. In the form of a question. It could be very specific or quite general. But once you submit the search request a set of results will be shown. Some content appears higher than others and the order in which you see it all depends on a number of important factors known as the search algorithm. Now let’s say you knew exactly how Google’s algorithm worked and you had a business of your own or worked for one. Theoretically, you could prepare everything on your site so that you showed up first for whatever search term you wanted to every time.
You could dominate a popular search term but if you could, people would always find you and you can make lots of money. But this is why Google and other search engines keep their algorithm secret. It’s because they want to encourage businesses and individuals alike to build the best websites they can and fill them with the best content possible. But the algorithms are not complete mysteries. We do know that Google’s includes hundreds of different variables including how many times a keyword is used on a page, how many other sites link to that page, how fast that site loads, the contents of specific HTML tags within the page, and much, much more. Understanding the attributes of what goes into the search algorithm can improve your rankings and, in turn, your websites. In addition, search engines provide a broader range of content of SERPs than ever before including results for images, video, social platform, news and a whole lot more. They also provide details about each source, making trust an important variable in the thought process when users decide what, if anything, to click.
Another variable becoming more relevant in the mobile age is personalization. People don’t want just ordinary results to a search query, they want relevant results. Results that mean more to them because of who they are, what they like and where they are. For example, Google will take your search history and other information about you into account in an attempt to present more relevant results. So what you might see on a SERP for, say, Star Wars toys, may not be the same thing, that your neighbor sees. Location also factors in, especially if you search for something that you can go to like a retail store, a restaurant, a theater, or any place you can find on a map. Another aspect of personalization pertains to who you know. On certain search result pages, you might see results featuring content by or about contacts that you’re connected to. With different kinds of content, personalization and location all thrown into the mix, keeping all the SEO variables in mind can be challenging. But you must not loose sight of this fact.
To truly optimize your site for search engines, you must optimize it for people. Search engines are machines. They’re programmed to index websites, record where keywords and phrases and other kinds of content exist. They collect and index and display data. However, the success of any search engine is not based on the ability to provide an index. Success means providing fast, accurate, informative and realistic results so that people understand why they got the results they did and they will trust those results. When people trust the results they get, they will continue to use the search engine in question. There’s so much more that you can say about each aspect of the mysterious search algorithm and we will cover more details later but what we have discussed so far applies to organic search results, which are results based on quality, relevance and other merits of the associated content.
Content is King
The key component driving the SEO of your website is the content found on its pages. But what exactly is content? That term gets thrown around a lot so it’s important to clarify what content is. Especially if we’re going to talk about content creation, optimization and strategy. Content is whatever you put on your page. Firstly, it’s the text that your users and the search engines see. But don’t think of it simply as keywords or phrases. The text you provide, must make sense to the actual human beings using your site. Write everything for actual people and trust me, the search engines will understand it too. This can be texts like headers, titles, product descriptions and FAQs. It also includes links that you provide to other pages, other sites and downloadable files. And links are viewed in a unique way by search engines. By providing a link to something, you’re basically endorsing it, you went through the time and effort to add a link. Because you believe the content that users and search engines will find there has value. Now, secondly, content is whatever you offer for download. If you provide downloadable content such as documentation, presentations, podcasts, photos, logos, apps and more, these files are content. You’re providing them for a reason. People want them so they will be searching for them. Consider what search engines offer for results these days. It’s not just a collection of sites or pages anymore. They offer results specifically for videos and images, as well as results found on shopping, news, social and research sites. Consider these options as you prepare your own sites and think about what you want to offer that has value. Lastly, content also refers to what can be found about your site.
When people think about content, many of them might think that if they create a great site for people to read or for them to download and evaluate, if they use the right mix of keywords and such But they’ve done everything they can do in terms of content. On your site? Perhaps. But SEO also considers the content that links to, describes and is related to your site. Remember how we said that adding a link was equal to offering a recommendation. The same goes when other sites link to you. They’re linking to your site using specific texts or keywords because they endorse you in some way. Perhaps this link is found in a blog post titled Eight Great Musical Plug-ins. Or maybe someone links to your portfolio page on their Tumblr including hashtags, plug-ins, and music. Awesome. While we can control what we put on our site, the rest of the web, especially social media, is out of our hands. Once you recognize and understand this, you’ll see it’s fruitless to worry about controlling content of conversations when you Your company, your products, your employees and other aspects of being talked about. What you can do is your best to monitor and listen and then react professionally with great content of your own. Linking to helpful information can direct conversations in new beneficial directions for everyone involved. So, be strategic about what content you put on your site or offer for download, and monitor the content about you, as all of these can and will impact the SEO of your site.