Facebook or Twitter may be the first thing you check in the morning, however, a search engine is where you’ll most likely end up multiple times per day. With the internet being everchanging and always improving, chances are you have encountered the positive and negative instances that search engine optimization can bring.
What Is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the strategy of raising the position of a website in the search engine results page (SERPs) while targeting a specific audience and attempting to be bring more traffic to said website. To understand how SEO works, we will have to start at the beginning. For reference, we will be using Google as an example. Google has spiders that get sent out through the web everyday to crawl and scale your website for all important information. When Google’s spider crawls your website, it generally uses the links you placed on your website. It does this to simulate an actual user scrolling through your website. So, if there was no link to a specific page, the spider may not crawl it. To help this process along, we have what’s known as a robots file, which is commonly named “robots.txt”. This is also the location of your site map and contains all of the links in your website. It is noteworthy to mention that the more accessible the pages are in your website, the better chances you have of getting indexed.
What ensures that your website is found within the search pages is a term known as indexing. Indexing is the outcome of a spider crawling your website. Many factors come into play when attempting to be placed within Google’s index. Authority and relevance are two key factors that Google uses during the indexing process.
Why is SEO Important?
In the 20th century, billboards and the phone book were the average man’s way of advertisement. Anytime you were ordering a pizza or driving down the freeway, you were seeing some form of advertisement. Today, the majority of us use a search engine.
SEO is beneficial to the web in multiple ways, including:
- A blog that has multiple authors that contribute various sources of content can be problematic but SEO enables the authors to break down & categorize the content that is posted.
- With the algorithm focusing more on relevance and authority, multiple websites that are selling a similar product will be appropriately ranking to give the user the best product.
- Improved user experience – this is the most important. The more users that actively use a search engine and are satisfied with the experience, the more traffic you’ll get. It’s a delightful circle.
- It’s free and cost effective. It doesn’t cost you 1 penny to have a search engine place you in their results unless you’re directly running an advertising campaign.
- Your competition is practicing SEO – to even find your competition, you need to search for it. For you to find it, your competition has to have done at least a basic level of SEO.
There are many websites that are solely focused on providing visitors with a comprehensive structure of articles and fact based research studies revolving around common SEO practice & updates. One of the most widely used resources is without a doubt SEOmoz or more recently “Moz”. Moz started off in 2004 as an SEO consulting company. It was created by Rand Fishkin and his mother, Gillian. In 2005, SEOmoz became one of the first online publications to release a ranking factor infographic. Infographics like these are often used for SEO. Before this, there weren’t very many factual resources about SEO or in-depth search engine analysis. In fall of 2007, they received their first large investment of $1.1 million. Climbing the ladder seemingly uncontested, SEOMoz continued their journey to become the #1 SEO information resource.
Arguably, the smaller but just as effective resource to learn SEO is SEOBook. SEOBook started in 2003 as a small blog driven towards do-it-yourself tips & tricks and sold one of the very first & most successful SEO eBooks. They eventually stopped selling the eBook as the information had become outdated and started a training program for both new and seasoned web goers. It’s worth looking into. One thing to remember when searching online for reliable information on SEO/SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is to consider the source’s level of experience.
Common Mistakes and Things to Avoid
As I stated originally, SEO is everchanging. A strategy that was golden one month may generate a red flag and have you drop in the rankings the next. Fortunately, there have been very many tests done, and overtime there have been some typical concepts that have been known to produce negative results.
Duplicate content – Search engines keep a record of content that has already been posted. Duplicate content is when content shows up on the web in more than one place. The best way to avoid this is to write everything in your own words to the best of your ability.
Unoptimized images – Leaving your images without proper on-page optimization is a beginner mistake that we’ve all made. To ensure that your website is properly placed in your search engine’s images section make sure you have your alt tags aptly named and your image’s description filled out.
Keyword stuffing – This is more commonly referred to as over-optimization. When a search engine comes across content that has a keyword constantly mentioned to where the content is barely readable, it raises a huge red flag. Avoid this at all costs.
An alternate method of gaining a better understanding of SEO is joining a tightly knit community of business and marketing professionals. Several online forums such as Digital Point, 256 Kilobytes, and Warrior forum have all been active for 10+ years and bring about the most discussion between SEO professionals on the internet. The topics on these forums cover almost every detail of SEO imaginable and even have multiple users posting tips & tricks posts. Engaging with other forum members seems to bring positive results as you can certainly gain a further understanding of what strategies have garnered the best results for other marketers.
With organic searches making up well over 50% of all traffic, it’s safe to say that learning SEO would be very beneficial for your business. If pushing loads of traffic to your website is in your list of goals, then further expanding your knowledge with one of the publications listed above is the way to go.