Search engine optimization or simply SEO refers to the process of improving the position that your website appears at in the “organic” search results returned by sites such as Google, Yandex, Bing, Yahoo etc.As a general rule of thumb, sites that appear higher up in the results will get more traffic to their pages, and so potentially more business. Your goal is to get to page one and ideally to position one, but whether that is feasible largely depends on the market that you are operating in. If you’re in the mobile phone space or travel, you’ll be fighting a losing battle unless you’ve got a sizeable budget to spend. However, if you’re offering a niche product or a service in a defined geographical area, you stand a pretty good chance of at least getting to page one if you are patient enough.
Search engine optimization is nowadays more important than ever and it is necessary for every webmaster to understand the true meaning of SEO as well as the potential it creates for every business.Search engine optimization or SEO, in short, is a set of rules that can be followed by website (or blog) owners to optimize their websites for search engines and thus improve their search engine rankings.In addition, it is a great way to increase the quality of your websites by making them user- friendly, faster and easier to navigate.SEO can also be considered as a framework since the whole process has a number of rules (or guidelines), a number of stages and a set of controls.
Why is SEO important?
In today’s competitive market, SEO is more important than ever. Search engines serve millions of users per day looking for answers to their questions or for solutions to their problems.If you have a website, blog or online store, SEO can help your business grow and meet the business objectives.
Search engine optimization is essential because:
- The majority of search engines users are more likely to click on one of the top 5 suggestions in the results pages (SERPS), so to take advantage of this and gain visitors to your website or customers to the online store you need to in the top positions.
- SEO is not only about search engines but good SEO practices improve the user experience and usability of a website.
- Users trust search engines and having a presence in the top positions for the keywords the user is searching, increases the web site’s trust.
- SEO is good for the social promotion of your website. People who find your web site by searching Google or Yahoo are more likely to promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other social media channels.
- SEO is important for the smooth running of a big website. Websites with more than one author can benefit from SEO in a direct and indirect way. Their direct benefit is an increase in search engine traffic and their indirect benefit is having a common framework (checklists) to use before publishing content on the site.
- SEO can put you ahead of the competition. If two websites are selling the same thing, the search engine optimized website is more likely to have more customers and make more sales.
SEO for beginners
For beginners to SEO the above definition may sound complicated, in simpler terms Search Engine Optimization is a way to improve your website so that it will appear closer to the top positions in the search results of Google, Yahoo, Bing, ask.com, AOL.Com, Baidu, or other search engines. When you perform a search on Google (or any other search engine) the order by which the returning results are displayed, is based on complex algorithms. These algorithms take a number of factors into account to decide which web page should be shown in the first place, second place etc. Optimizing your website for search engines will give you an advantage over non-optimized sites and you increase your chances to rank higher.
What are the main stages of the Search Engine Optimization process?
As I mentioned above, SEO is not a static process but rather a framework with rules and processes. For simplicity though SEO can be broken down into 2 main stages:
On-site SEO: What rules to apply to your site to make it search engine friendly
Off-site SEO: How to promote your website or blog so that it can rank better in search results.
These are simple tweaks you can apply to your website and increase your search engine visibility. If followed correctly, these 15 SEO tips will also improve the usability and credibility of your website or blog. In addition to the above guidelines, the structure of a website is also very important for SEO purposes. If you seriously take into account these 2 factors i.e. website structure and the SEO tips, then that’s all you need to do to help search engines trust your website. There is no need to spend more time than needed with on-site SEO neither you should over optimize your website or blog because it can sometimes (under certain conditions) generate the opposite results.
Besides the changes, you can do to your website (on-site SEO) so that it ranks higher in the SERPs, the other way to improve your website’s ranking position is by using off-site SEO techniques. Off-site SEO is generally known as link building but I prefer to use the term website promotion as a proper way to promote a website involves much more methods and techniques than building links. In general, search engines are trying to find the most important pages of the web and show those first when a user enters a search query. One of the factors to determine the position a web page will appear in the results is the number of incoming links. Incoming links are a signal of trust and depending from where the links are coming, they can greatly affect your ranking position (either positively if the links are coming from well-known and trusted sites or negatively if they are paid links, article directories, link farms etc.).
Keyword rich content
One of the key tools that search providers such as Google and Microsoft (Bing) employ to determine your rankings are “spiders”. A spider is a piece of software that crawls the web in a methodical, automated manner. They browse your website (and everyone else’s) to identify the actual copy written on the page along with things like use of keywords and phrases. This data is then used to determine the relevance of your site when someone enters a keyword or phrase into Google, Bing or any other search engine. With this in mind, you need to consider the search habits of your target audience and ensure that the terms they might use to find your business are reflected on your pages. For example, if you offer physiotherapy services, your website content should include words or phrases that people may search for, such as “massage”, or specific problems such as “lower back pain”. Remember that text included in images cannot be crawled by spiders, although alternative text associated with the images is, so you may wish to revisit the design of some of your pages.
A useful free tool for identifying your keywords is the Google AdWords keyword tool. This is designed to help prospective advertisers identify the most relevant keywords for their chosen market, but it is also very helpful when writing copy for your website. Once you have identified your keywords, ensure that they appear in the body of your pages, as well as in the metadata of your page, which is the unseen data that gives the spiders key information about your page. This can either be done by yourself, with a little knowledge of HTML and access to your server, or it can be done by your web designer.
PageRank is a number scored out of 10 that is given to your website based on inbound and outbound links and helps search engines to verify how trustworthy your site is. Linking between sites allows “link juice” to be carried through, so if your site is linked to by a site with a good PageRank, link juice will be carried forward to your site, improving your ranking. While you cannot generally control the inbound links to your site (and Google disapproves of link farms and other artificial ways of linking), there are some steps that can be taken to improve your PageRank score. Ensure that your site is linked to from your social media content, most notably Google+, and attempt to get listed on free open directories such as DMOZ or professional bodies associated with your market. Both outbound and internal links are crucial. Wherever you mention a site or a source, make sure these include a reference and a hyperlink. As for internal links, meticulously linking will increase the time spent on your site by the spiders. You may wish to revisit your menu structure or to insert a quick links footer, which will ensure that each page on your site has a link to all the other pages on it. In order to determine the PageRank of your site, you can download a browser plugin such as Page Rank Status for the Google Chrome browser.