What Exactly Is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO, is a very important part of making websites and marketing businesses or service industries on the internet, within search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. When a webmaster does not optimise his or her website properly then they jeopardise being able to market their business successfully online.
This may be fine for some businesses that rely completely on repeat customers, most of whom know how to access their website without the use of a search engine. Unfortunately, in order for a business to grow online, they need to attract new customers and clients and one of the most effective ways of doing this is to successfully rank high in the search engines.
To many people, SEO is a tricky subject and one which the search engines, most notably Google, will often changes the rules to suit themselves. This is part of their quest to make the internet better but often has much collateral damage whenever they roll out an ‘update’.
These updates have been around for years, but the most notable Google updates have curiously been named ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ and these are their best efforts in ridding their search engine of ‘spam’. Whilst these updates were largely successful according to Google, they did effect a huge number of webmasters who felt that their websites had followed all the correct rules and chaos ensued.
The updates meant that the SEO landscape had changed forever and that there was no longer any room for what was seen as ‘Black Hat’ methods of ranking websites. The scare has be felt throughout the industry and business owners no longer want to be involved with these Black Hat methods as ranking with these methods has become far too volatile and websites and businesses can be wiped out over night.
As these methods have changed, website architecture is even more important and sites have to be built correctly from the bottom up so they are as streamlined and as optimised as much as possible. This element of SEO is known as ‘On site optimisation’ and is highly crucial in ranking sites as high as possible in the search results.
So, What are They Important Factors Of On Page Search Engine Optimisation?
Domain names can play a huge role in optimising your website for the search engine spiders. Having your main target keyword with the URL is seen as a big advantage by many as it allows the search engines to categorize your website immediately, before it has even had a good look around. Many people like to opt for a well branded domain that is easily remembered and memorable. In terms of SEO, it is advisable to get your target keywords somewhere in the URL in order to help you rank.
On site content is another key point in ranking well within the search results. High quality rich content that informs and brings something new is an important part of ranking within the search engines. This is not necessarily because Google or Bing can understand what is written, but rather because it leads to reader engagement and interaction. This is an element that Google measures and is known as ‘bounce rate’.
Meta tags are used by search engines and users to categorize websites and must be used properly, especially in titles, images and website descriptions.
Header tags are an important element that must be optimised correctly as they help the search engine spiders to properly understand what the topic of the page is about in the shortest form. Getting these header tags right can really help with your SEO efforts.
Keywords are ultra important! They are the whole basis and theme of your website and not only help human visitors find and read your website, they also allow the search bots to help categorize your site, especially when used in conjunction with header and meta tags. Choosing keywords that fit your business is of paramount importance and deciphering what is a ‘buyer keyword’ rather than a browsing keyword can be the difference in making a profit of going bust! Choosing the correct keywords really can make or break your business – they are that important!
Just because they are important, does not mean that you should overuse or ‘stuff’ them into your website as this can lead to over optimisation problems. Getting the correct balance is very important, especially in today’s SEO landscape.
Sitemaps are another key element to on page SEO as they help search engine spider bots to index your site correctly as they allow easy access to all pages of your website. This can go a step further if you submit your sitemap to the search engines through their webmaster tools program.
So What About Links?
Links are still an important part of the equation when it comes to ranking websites but their emphasis has definitely been lowered. They days of whoever has more links wins are long gone and we are now in the age where link authority and relevancy are key to successful SERP rankings. Having these relevant links shows Google that you are an authority in your space so much so that people with your area of expertise will link to you as a good resource. On the web, links are seen as giving a vote of confidence to someone and having one from within your industry signals to Google that you know what you are talking about!
I Keep Hearing About Social Signals. What’s Going On With That?
More and more, people are using the internet for ‘social’ activities and these parameters are seen to be a good indication of authority by Google. Getting more social exposure on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest can really help ramp up your marketing efforts not only in the search engines eyes but also with real people.
So, you can see that there are many different elements to both on site and off site search engine optimisation and those are just the ones we have covered! The long and short of it all is that without proper optimisation, you can have the best looking website in the world, but no one will ever get to see it on a big scale. Once you have mastered how to get visitors, you then have to start thinking about conversion and bounce rate but that is for another post!
Check out this great video for more information;
Maile Ohye from Google advises your startup as if she had only 10 minutes as your SEO consultant.