SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of driving organic traffic to your webpage through the major search engines, like Bing, Yahoo, and Google. Not only does SEO focus on improving the quantity of the traffic directed to your website, but the quality as well. After all, what’s the point of creating a webpage if it serves no purpose to those searching for it?
Let’s start with the quality of traffic. This is the critical part of SEO, because it means nothing if your website is driving millions of visitors but isn’t generating any key performance indicators. It’s important for your website to tell the search engine exactly what your website is all about. For example, if Google or Yahoo directs someone to your swimming pool business website when they are looking for pool tables, that is an indication that your website needs SEO improvement.
You should be attracting visitors that are authentically searching for the product or service that your website offers. Don’t forget that SEO is organic traffic, which means you aren’t paying for your website to be the first result when someone searches.
Now we’ll move onto the slightly more obvious side of SEO, which is the quantity of visitors that come to your site. Of course, we want as many people as possible to view our website, but again, we want these people to genuinely use our site with purpose. Once you obtain the right viewers, the more traffic the better. But how do you attract and obtain these quality viewers organically? That’s why we’re learning about SEO.
What Goes Into SEO?
The first thing you need to know about the basics of SEO is how search engines work. The two main functions of a search engine are finding and providing answers for the users. A search engine finds information throughout the World Wide Web by Crawling and Indexing. Search engines operate using software called web crawlers to comb through billions of pages, media, files and other documents on the internet to discover public webpages. The search engine then builds an index of these which results in the search engine result page (SERP) that it provides the user.
The main function that we, as consumers, use search engines for are providing answers. When we perform an online search, the search engine feeds us the relevant results based on relevance and popularity. The search engine uses keywords in the search to determine the relevance to the user’s queries. It also utilizes the website’s popularity as a determining factor, assuming the more visitors the more valuable information it contains. Relevance and popularity are determined by programming algorithms.
Optimization pertains to the actual content that the webpage contains. It is the act of optimizing the website content so that search engines can read and understand it exactly for what it is, therefore generating quality traffic. Optimization of a website has many elements, including keyword usage, internal and external links, title tags, headlines, and meta descriptions. These are all classified as on-page ranking factors.
The content of a webpage is essentially what determines its search result position by both the user and the search engine. For both factors, it is crucial that content is not only well-written, but supplies what the user needs. The content should be very specific and relevant only to the topic at hand. From the search engine perspective, it is imperative that the content is linkable and shareable. If the content cannot be shared or linked to from other pages, it is unlikely that search engines will rank them.
Also, be aware of your URLs. This is another influential ranking factor that contributes to the SEO of a webpage. Clearly display the categorical hierarchy of your website in the URL so that search engines can determine the relevancy of the webpage. When your URL is organized effectively, the context of the content it contains can be easily communicated to both the user and search engine.
A simple way to remember this is to just think of it as the easier it is for people to read it, the better. That way, when your URL is shared, it can be easily understood to those searching for its content and hopefully influence them to click on it.
SEO is Constantly Evolving
Despite search engines becoming increasingly intelligent, they do not look at a website the same way a human being does. However, as technology continuously advances, so do search engines. Search engines are constantly working to improve their crawl and index technologies in order to improve their SERPs to users. In turn, this makes SEO and on-page ranking factors a complex and ever-changing process.
The algorithms that search engines use also fluctuate often. In response, SEO tactics evolve in order to be effective and positively influence ranking. There are some qualities that high-ranking websites generally commonly share, however, including:
- Designed for easy accessibility through all browsers and devices
- Providing high-quality content that is legitimate and shareable
- A direct response relevant to the user’s query
- Functional and easy to maneuver, use, and understand
- Secured following industry guidelines
Because of the consistent changes being made to search engine technology, the future of SEO tactics can be labeled as uncertain. It is not unusual for previous tactics to end up hurting SEO rankings once algorithms have changed. It is clear, however, that there are billions of websites competing for the top ranked spots on the World Wide Web, so the need for search engine optimization won’t be going away any time soon. It is important to know and understand the basics of SEO in order to increase visibility and establish a successful online presence.
How to Implement an SEO Strategy
A successful SEO strategy is much more than adding keywords and hoping that your content will attract the right people. There are a plethora of SEO tools and services available out there, but often times, we don’t know exactly where to start. The first step is understanding just how important having an SEO strategy actually is for your website.
Ultimately, the responsibility of SEO falls on the marketers. If you’re looking to get serious about implementing an SEO strategy for your website, consider hiring an agency that specializes in digital marketing tactics. The right marketing agency will make an effort to get to know you, your product or service, and your consumer in order to establish realistic goals for your site. Establishing a strong brand voice and connecting that with your audience is essentially the driving force behind a successful SEO strategy.