What is SEO? It is an acronym for search engine optimization. Because over 80% of internet searches are done using Google, that is the company that SEO strategies can be most profitably focused on. The SEO goal of the website owner is to make her or his website as close to the top of the search results page as possible whenever a potential customer does a search for what the website owner’s site is about. For instance, if the owner has a site about selling leatherworking tools, the ultimate SEO goal for that owner would is to be the first website listed when someone Google searches keywords like “buy leatherworking tools online.”
Google determines the order in which websites appear after someone does a search by using an algorithm that takes different factors into account. The exact way the algorithm works is proprietary information, and the algorithm is revised from time to time. In spite of this, best practices exist that can offer guidance on how to move up the search results page. These can best be implemented with some background information about how Google gathers information about web pages.
Google explores web pages using a program called a “spider” or “crawler.” The spider looks through the web page looking for links and following them to other pages, thus “crawling” all around the World Wide Web to compile a database of what is there. For SEO purposes, it is important to note the different way the spider reads a web page as opposed to how a human would. The spider divides information into categories such as text, H1 headings (the biggest headings), H2 headings (smaller than H1), bold text, and links among others. It helps to design a webpage being mindful of these categories which Google uses to understand it. Including all of these design elements helps Google to have a greater understanding in general of what content the site has, which will help its SEO ranking.
SEO is often divided into two broad categories: on-site and off-site. Keywords are the place to start when considering on-site optimization, which has to do with things that the author can improve his or her own website. A driving factor here is keywords. Keywords are the words that people type into the search engine when they are looking for a particular type of content. A website runner wants to find out which keywords are most often used by people trying to find content like what her or his website is offering. For instance, if the service the website owner provides is sports injury therapy, the best keywords are the ones that people in need of therapy for a sports injury most frequently type in the search box. Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool is a free option to gain more information about what keywords are best, but there are other tools available as well.
Once the website owner has optimized keywords, it is good practice to include these keywords in the meta description for the webpage. The meta description is the blurb about the site that shows up on the Google search results page and is about 155 characters long. When working in the keywords here and elsewhere, it is important to do so in a logical manner which flows well, so as not to appear like spam. Other places to include the keywords are the title of the website, throughout the content on the web pages of the site, in the site’s URL, and in the alt tags for any images. Alt tags are where descriptions of pictures can be typed to make them more intelligible to the spiders. Another consideration is to make the keywords match the subtopic for each web page of the site because the spiders search by the web page and not my website. The different pages of a site can refer back to one another using internal links.
Even more important for SEO than what an author puts on their own website are links to the author’s website from other websites, which are called backlinks. Backlinks are weighted heavier by Google’s algorithm because the website owner him or herself isn’t able to create them. They are proof that other people have found value on the website owner’s site.
There are several strategies for amassing backlinks to promote a site. The organic method is where people just naturally find the site on their own, find it informative and useful, and decide to post links to it from their sites. The best way to promote this organic traffic is to have engaging content. Engaging content can be achieved by having original content, having informative infographics, and updating frequently.
Other strategies to increase the number of backlinks to a site include reaching out to anyone in the industry who has links on their pages, being a guest blog author on a relevant blog, becoming part of a relevant industry directory, and broken link building. Broken link building is when the website author finds another website or blog that has a dead link on it. Then, the author finds applicable to content on his or her page or writes some new content that applies to what this broken link used to be about before it broke. Now, the website author emails the proprietor of the site that has the broken link, tells them that their link is broken, and recommends they replace it with a link to the author’s site.
The practice of SEO is widely researched, as the financial benefits to mastering it can be of immense help to a business. A business can even hire an seo company to help with it. There is much more to learn about SEO, but the above information concerning how spiders interpret pages, on-site and off-site SEO best practices is a good base of knowledge on which to build.