Search Engine Optimization / SEO Explained
The Basics Of Search Engine Optimization or SEO Explained:
Search Engine Optimization or “SEO” – is a widely used term in marketing these days but what does it really mean? Although most of us know that SEO is a technique to get your content to rank strongly on top of the search result page, most people do not fully understand how it works. In this article, we will understand the mechanics of SEO and analyze the benefits of Search Engine Optimization.
What Does SEO include?
SEO includes all processes taken to help any content to rank higher in search engine results. The process of “working” on a page or site SEO is called “Search Engine Optimization” or just “optimization”.
What is Organic SEO?
Organic SEO is making a page or site more search engine friendly so that the page or site will rank high in the organic search results. Organic SEO differs from paid advertisement and should not be confused with it. In paid ads, you need to pay money every time you want the ad to appear. But organic SEO does not cost you anything. Organic SEO basically means that the focus is on organic ranking, and one of the benefits of this type of SEO (if done correctly) is that you do not have to pay to be on the front page of a search engine result page.
How Does SEO Work?
SEO works through search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo by sending their bots to crawl your website. These search bots, or spiders as they are also called, scour the internet to find content. This content is then used to help determine what a certain page or site should actually be ranked for. Search engine results depend on many different factors such as the content’s relevance, structure, how helpful the content is, who links to it and so forth.
There are more than 200 factors that come into play for SEO and these factors could be split into 2 main groups: On-page and Off-page:
- On-page SEO – Working on the page of a site to ensure that it comes up strong in the search results. On-page SEO includes things like making sure the content is good, adding alt tags to images, creating strong title and meta tags, making sure the page loads quickly and so forth.
- Off-page SEO – Getting a page to rank strongly in the search results by working on different sites or pages. Off-page includes things like creating back links to a page of different sites or other pages, sharing the pages in social media sites and so forth.
SEO is a continuous process and cannot be achieved overnight. There are some basic strategies that are applied to rank in search results.
Here are a few of the key search engine optimization techniques:
- Content – Content is still the king! That said, you need to think about what content you should curate for your site. The site content needs to be driven based on the website users. Your content should be meaningful to your target audience and you need to publish well researched and in depth articles for them. But before you start with “just any content”, make sure you know what your frequent users are looking for. Once you have the topic that you want to publish, break it down for your users and make it actionable. The easiest way to this is to try and answer the questions that your site visitors are hoping to get.
- 2. Keyword Research – As we have already pointed out, search engines have their method of analyzing content. Keywords are those words that you want to rank for and the content you curate needs to center around those specific words. Search engine crawlers (also referred to as bots or spiders) will “read” your entire post and analyze it. The hope is that you selected terms that have value to your site users. The more frequently searched keywords will generate the most amount of web traffic, but they also tend to be more competitive. But if you do your SEO work well, the rewards will be tremendous.
- 3. On-page Optimization – On-page optimization as mentioned is the work on the actual page or article to get a strong rank in the search engine results. Some of the things that you need to pay attention to include: title tags, meta descriptions, site structure, linking internally from other pages on your site, selecting the best url, making sure the images are relevant and tagged correctly and that the page is mobile friendly (meaning that it looks good on different mobile devices and different screen sizes). Technical optimization for site speed and security measures also accounts for on-page optimization but these are usually best left to the professionals.
- 4. Site Architecture Optimization – A great website accounts for a good user experience, which is an important aspect of Search Engine Optimization. This includes three essential things – breadcrumbs, creating proper pages and child pages and / or categories and sub categories. In addition, the actual domain name will play a key SEO role here as well.
- 5. Semantic markup – Semantic markup basically means that you are structuring the code on your site to help reinforce the actual meaning of the content that lives on the page. In addition, this helps the search engines understand what your content is really about. This in turn will help the bots analyze the content more efficiently and will help to rank your page higher in the search results. In addition to code markups, you will also need to generate an XML site map that will tell the search engines “where” to find all the articles, products posts and pages that you have.
- 6. Link building – To help show search engines that your content is important, you would need to link to it. This aspect of SEO work breaks down to both internal (as in coming links from other pages on your site) and external links (as in coming links from other sites). Links are like “trusted” votes received from other pages and other sites. In coming links tell search engines the content is relevant and the higher quality site links (such as links from the top news sites) will help your content rank better and faster. When it comes to external links coming into your page, try to think quality over quantity. By this, we mean that one direct link from The New York Times will help push up your rank much better and faster than 100 links from lower ranked directories.
Why do we need SEO and why can’t we do without it?
SEO is a process of constantly improving the quality and quantity of your website content and increasing the number of visitors a website gets.
Here are three basic and significant benefits of SEO:
- SEO Increases Organic Visibility – Content has no value if it doesn’t reach the right audience. Effective SEO strategy will help increase the organic visibility of your content, giving it a chance to get the right audience. The more people see your content the more chances you have of growing your business.
- Impressive ROI – Your Return on Investment (ROI) increases by adopting the right search engine optimization techniques. By attracting the right people to your site, there is a bigger chance to have more businesses.
- Trust Factor – Example: ranking in the number one position in Google for a search term will automatically create a trust factor for your company. The general public understands that so many companies are constantly competing for the highest placement. So, if Google (for example) decided that you should rank in the #1 position for a search term, it must mean you are the best of the best for that query.
3 Handy Search Engine Optimization Tools
Tools can enhance your Search engine optimization techniques, especially if you ate a novice in the game. Here are the top three tools to consider.
- SEMrush – SemRush is a robust online SEO tool that allows users to monitor, analyze and compare pages and ranks with their competitors. They also offer site auditing tools that could help identify potential issues within your site.
- Google Search Console – Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, the GSC is a free tool that should be used to monitor your website’s health and rank. The Google SEO search console helps you understand Google’s search results better that will help optimize your site.
- Ubersuggest – Ubersuggest is also a free tool that can be utilized for keyword research and checking the domain authority. The report includes competition, CPC, keyword volume and seasonal trends.
People are constantly looking for a magic SEO formula. But, if you want to rank strongly and are thinking long term, then there are no shortcuts. Search Engine Optimization is achieved with continuous involvement, constantly publishing new and relevant content and addressing the core issues. SEO work is time consuming but if you want to do business in the 21st century, then it is something you will need to factor and budget for. The bottom line is that good SEO will pay for itself so the rewards are worth it.