What is SEO? A Quick Guide to Search Engine Optimization
by Robert McNicholas on December, 10 2018
True or false: without search engine optimization (SEO), your webpage will be sucked to the very back of Google’s rankings, never to be seen again. Um… false?
Search engine optimization isn’t the sole factor governing the productivity of your site, but it does play a huge role in determining how easy it is to find.
In this post, we’ll get a grip on the slippery concept of SEO and what it means for your business webpage.
How Does Search Optimization Really Work?
Do you want to know the nitty-gritty details of SEO? Want to know what goes on behind the scenes?
Nobody really knows except the search engines themselves, and they’re not telling. At least, they’re not giving us the exact equation. The general idea of SEO (as defined by Google, Bing, and others) is as follows:
Keywords are entered into the search engine (say, puppies and kittens).
The search engine checks its massive database for pages that should have a lot of information about puppies and/or kittens, in any order. (Hint: if you want an exact search, type the phrase in quotations—“puppies and kittens.”)
Sites that meet the search engine’s criteria for credibility and large amounts of puppy- and kitten-related content are shown higher on the list; other sites with less relevance are shown lower down on the list.
Sites that rake in lots of visitors and have plenty of fresh content are likely to be shown at the top of the list.
Because these results are based on algorithms (complex mathematical formulas), Google, Bing, and the like are keeping the details to themselves.
Otherwise, as has happened in the past, unscrupulous developers can find ways to exploit the workings of the search engine to artificially move sites higher in the ranking.
This is known as Black Hat SEO, and it’s a very bad thing. Do it, and watch your page get kicked to the bottom of the list, or even banned altogether.So what makes a good webpage, from a search engine’s perspective?
Good SEO Techniques Make Search Engines Happy—And Readers TooSome of the requirements for good SEO are technical—keywords placed at just the right spots in on-page text and repeated at just the right frequencies; tags in the actual code of the page that describe the site; other tags that detail image content, etc.
Honestly, unless you’re a web designer or content developer, you’re probably not too interested in this. What can you, the non-technical site owner, do to improve your search engine rankings?
Choose a good domain name that clearly represents your company. For example, a site devoted to puppy and kitten photos would do well to use a name like ‘PuppiesAndKittens(dot)com’ rather than ‘CuteBabies(dot)com.’ Yes, puppies and kittens are baby animals, but that’s not what the people who are looking for cute baby photos want to find. It also doesn’t really describe what’s on the site.
Make sure the content on your site is useful for human readers. Not only will you get penalized if you blatantly write lots of keyword phrases in your text (a practice known as keyword stuffing), you’ll annoy people. Well-placed keywords should only be obvious to those who deal with SEO for a living.
Try to keep fresh content on your site. That’s why blogs are popular; once or twice a week, there’s fresh, relevant, and relatable content to share with the audience and the search engines.
If you’re interested in boosting the search engine optimization of your site, it’s best to hire a professional optimizer. SEO is a complicated process, and even an unintentional wrong move can result in lower page rankings.
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