Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a term you must be familiar with if you have ever spent time looking up something on Google. SEO essentially refers to the process that improves the visibility of a website on a search engine’s results page organically. That is if you run a plus-sized clothing business in Atlanta, and if you do everything right according to the SEO rulebook, whenever someone searches for plus-sized clothing in Atlanta or surrounding areas, your company’s name and its website should be propping up within the first page of search results.
In today’s digital age, search engines give businesses immense visibility, with almost 47% of all traffic that comes to websites being directed through search engines. This ought to explain the significance of investing in SEO efforts for most businesses. For those who aren’t familiar with the basics of SEO, this article will act as a guide to the grass-root level basics of search engines and optimization.
How does Google rank web pages?
Google’s algorithm is complex in terms of its internal workings, however, there are certain basics associated with its ranking criteria that are standard and can be taken into account by beginners. Google employs search engine crawlers, which are essentially AI-powered software that crawl the internet in search of high-quality and relevant content. They are called crawlers because they “crawl” all over your web pages, or read them to evaluate their legitimacy and domain authority. This content is then categorized based on certain keywords that users may search for.
Crawlers determine the quality of a webpage depending on the number of high-authority and reputable websites that point towards a certain page. For instance, if reputed websites such as Forbes.com and CNN.com link to a certain webpage, the high authority of these two websites is likely to “trickle-down” on the web page in question, and the crawler will rank that as high authority as well.
Other factors that go into Google determining your website’s ranking are its loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and how people engage with it. A poor loading speed and distorted website on mobile are likely to get you a poor score from Google, and the opposite is likely to help you score high. Similarly, if individuals engage with your website after landing on it and stay quite some time exploring it, Google is likely to rank you high. However, if people simply close the tab after a few seconds and “bounce”, your ranking will be negatively affected.
Yet another factor that helps determine your ranking is the quality and uniqueness of the content on your web pages. Unique content is likely to help your score high whereas duplicate and poorly constructed content are likely to give you a lower ranking.
While the above criteria for ranking stand true, it is to be noted that Google keeps updating its algorithm almost daily, and there are always new additions and updates to it.
How to perform SEO?
While SEO is an ongoing process that businesses and websites need to engage in almost all of their endeavors, for the sake of simplicity we can break down SEO efforts into three categories which are keyword research, link building, and technical SEO.
Keyword research refers to research dedicated to finding out what your target audience and potential customers are searching for online, and then including those keywords in your website’s content in a naturally fitting way. The very first step in keyword research is brainstorming words that are relevant to your business.
For instance, for a cosmetics manufacturer, the keywords relevant to them would be “makeup”, “foundation”, “skin tint”, “cosmetics”, “lipstick”, “eye makeup” and whatnot. The next step is to put these keywords into a keyword research tool for further polishing and to get a grasp on exactly what your target audience searches for.
You may also take a shortcut, and simply look into the keywords that your competitors use, and then include those in your on-page SEO efforts.
Link Building refers to all activities and actions that marketers take to increase the number of quality inbound links to a webpage. The ultimate goal here is to improve a web page’s ranking on search engines. The number one aspect of your link-building efforts would be to ask for backlinks from other reputed websites. Before doing so, it would be a good idea to read up on the different types of backlinks in SEO such as natural, outreach, and self-created backlinks.
The next step in your link-building endeavors would be to build relationships and get familiar with industry-resulted blogs, forums, and social groups. Once you start contributing something of value to these resources, the number of inbound links to your websites is likely to grow substantially and so is your search engine ranking.
Another step you would be taking would be to list your website in relevant and reputed website directories. Even more so, you should be looking at niche directories to secure a spot. Another good idea is to discover which backlinks your competitor’s website is featuring to gain footing similarly.
Technical SEO refers to optimizing your website for an elevated user experience and to help search engine crawlers crawl better on your website. The very first step you should be taking here is optimizing your website for loading speed – the better the loading speed, the higher is your ranking likely to be. This can be done by minimizing the number of HTTP requests, changing to a faster host, and compressing web pages.
You should also be making an effort to make your website mobile-friendly, as responsive websites have a higher ranking in comparison to those that do not. Irrespective of the device your customers may use – whether it be a laptop, PC, mobile phone, tablet, or smartphone – your website should be displayed in an eligible and standard manner.
SEO has become a crucial part of the way we run businesses. The above information is important for all business owners and for anyone who runs a website, as search engine rankings help websites gain targeted traffic and visibility, which is crucial to them making sales.