SEO, pronounced as individual letters S-E-O, stands for Search Engine Optimization. While there are graduate level courses and advanced degrees related to the detailed study of this technology, you don’t need to understand Google’s coding algorithms to be able to use SEO for your benefit. In short, a formula that all internet search engines use to determine which sites show up first when a user searches online.
Understanding how SEO works will enable you to improve your site’s ranking and visibility on the internet. A poor understanding can result in your site being buried on the hundredth page of Google. Proper usage could make your site a first-page result for dozens of different keywords.
ON and Offsite Optimization
SEO is broken down into two main categories: onsite SEO and offsite SEO. Onsite SEO includes all information that search engines gather from your site itself, basically what you write about yourself.
Offsite SEO specifically targets information that is related to your page but located on other sites; what others write about you.
Search engines analyze massive amounts of data, think hundreds of millions of pages across the internet, to determine which sites are most relevant and should be presented first to a user based on the keywords related to each site.
SEO is a science of understanding how often to use keywords, which keywords to use, and where keywords should be placed on your page so that search engines will rank your site higher than others. It is critical you optimize your website for search engines if you want to rank.
How does it all work to get ranked on Google?
Search engines use specialized programs, called bots, to scour the internet gathering data and regularly to update their page results. These bots typically find the following features on both onsite and offsite pages to determine rankings:
Onsite – your web page and personally created content
SEO friendly website design
• clusters of relevant keywords
• similarities and matching results between existing content and specific keywords
• new content that contains relevant keywords
• a reliable site infrastructure
Offsite – other sites which refer or link back to your webpage
• a high-quality profile and theme related links directed to your site
• an active and relevant social media following
• citations and references related to your web page
• other factors that influence your SEO results that are outside of your control
This short list is just a brief summary of the categories of data search engines target. Search engines look at over 200 signals when evaluating a site. These messages are updated each year with over 400 refinements that change the way results will be ranked.
SEO understands the techniques, strategies, and skill to staying ahead of these changes so that your page always ranks on top.
Research Your Keywords
Search engines are bombarded with billions of keyword requests each day; Google receives over 3.5 billion requests per day. 25% of these keywords are new and unique, a word the search engine has never seen before.
Proper SEO teaches us to create “keyword clusters” or groups of keywords that focus on a core theme so that search engines will see multiple related results from our cluster. Think of it like a fishing hook that has multiple hooks, the chance of a fish biting any given hook increases. The search engine is our fish.
A quick example of a core keyword would be the word “hotel.” We can create a keyword cluster with words like “Hotel New York,” “luxury hotel,” or “economy hotel.” Search engines will not only target the keyword itself but the frequency of related keyword clusters.
The latest SEO tools and techniques allow you to find the best balance between keywords so that search engines will target your page and provide you optimal ROI.
Targeting Existing and New Content
One of the best techniques for onsite SEO is to match a single keyword cluster phrase to a single page located on your site. Your main homepage will be the focus of your main keyword. Then subpages will target the next most relevant keyword, with the pages of lowest important targeting the lowest value keywords.
This process repeats itself throughout your entire website hierarchy so that each page is targeting a specific keyword. In the end, this improves the user experience.
Understand The Code Behind The Website
While you do not need to code each page of your site, you should know how your page is designed. The code behind your website may not be visible to you or your viewers, but search engines read every line of this code, and it does affect your rankings.
Some pages are created “better” than others regarding how they are coded. It is vital that you or your website developer understands how to correctly index your sites, so your behind the scenes code does not impair your search engine rankings.
A quick test every website owner should do is to search for their own web page using Google’s search engine. Looks through the results and find which page Google presents your site and how Google presents your page to viewers. Many site owners are surprised to find their web page buried under dozens of other sites due to poor indexing.
Site appearance and feel are important to users, but search engines require more so that users will even have a chance to find your page.
Create a Solid Offsite Profile To Increase Authority
Search engines not only scour your site for keywords, but they will look at how often other sites reference your own. Each time a foreign site links back to your web page search engines will factor this as support for your site ranking higher.
You want lots of links from other sites so that search engines will believe your site to be the authority on that field and return your results first.
While the pure number of outside links is important, there are other factors that contribute to your offsite profile such as:
• the reputation of foreign sites linking to your own
• the theme and relevant information hosted on these sites
• the “Anchor Text” or words directly used in the link to your site
Social Media is a Ranking Factor
Social media has taken over the internet, not only as a form of communication but as a reliable indicator of what people are interested in. Search engines have begun factoring in social media presence into your site rankings as a measure of public favor.
Having a Facebook page, Twitter, or other social media outlets is important, but how often you post, what kind of content you’re posting, and how other social media sites refer to you all factor into the search engines algorithm when ranking your page.
Citations and References
Offsite citations that specifically mention your page or company by name is a huge plus to search engine rankings. Search engines highly recognize Even more mundane data such as your phone number, address, or other phrases which may go unnoticed by yourself or viewers. NAP consistency, or name, address, phone number is critical for Local SEO.
Not only do these terms affect your page ranking, but will place you on search engine maps and geotagged results.
Optimize Your Search Engine Ranking TODAY
If you’re interested in having your site show up first on the results page of Google, check out SEO Expert Brad for more information and advanced SEO techniques.