The Beginner’s Guide to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
The internet features hundreds of millions of domains with billions of web pages and even more content being added daily. How do you get your website noticed among all of that information?
This practice is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). The main purpose of SEO is to build a website, which will be easily read by search engine algorithms. Always remember: the goal of a search engine is to display the most relevant information to their visitor’s inquiry.
Understanding Web Traffic
Web Traffic is simply the data exchange between a website and the user. Using SEO practices is about generating more relevant web traffic for a website. The keyword in that statement is “relevant”. There are some business owners, marketers, and webmasters who think that having a higher amount of web traffic is automatically better. It’s not.
Website A may have 5,000 visitors, while Website B has 10,000. However, website analytics tell that Website A has 2,500 of 5,000 visitors actually exploring the website while Website B only has 1,000 of 10,000. Website A will generate more potential leads thanks to effective SEO.
Generating Web Traffic
There are many ways to generate web traffic, but they typically fall into a few particular approaches. Paid traffic generation includes, but is not limited to, Pay-Per-Click advertising, banner advertising, and email campaigns. Natural traffic is generated from a website by its own presence. An established website may have built great rankings over time, thus showing search engines it has the information their users are looking for.
A word used in conjunction with these styles is “organic.” The search engines accept a moderate amount of contribution from external sources to help search engine rankings. They do frown upon and take action against websites that attempt to create unfair conditions. Legitimate paid services are methodical, so they appear organic. Avoid doing business with any SEO professional or using any tactic that claims extraordinary, immediate results.
Understanding Search Engine Algorithms
The search engine algorithm is the coding that the engine uses to determine the type, quality, and relevance of a website’s content. The algorithm is responsible for tallying results and assigning the website a Search Engine Result Position, also known as a SERP. (SERP is also an acronym for Search Engine Result Page depending on the context.)
Search engine bot (also knows as “crawler”) arrives at this conclusion by reading website meta-data to interpret relevance, counting the number and quality of links to the content, checking for any potentially abusive behaviour, and a number of other practices. They are very complicated entities that do change with regularity as search engines adopt new policies and crackdown on negative practices. The aforementioned are specifically mentioned as they are parts of the process that a website can actively pursue for SEO benefit.
Not all search engine algorithms are the same. However, most entities cater more to Google than any other search engine. Google handles approximately 90% of all web searches. Google uses a term called PageRank on a scale of 0 (ignored) to 10 (most relevant) for positioning purposes.
Influencing A Website’s SERP
Actually influencing a website SERP relies on a steady, consistent approach. Remember, the goal of a search engine is to provide information most relevant to the user’s inquiry. A demonstration of relevance generally starts with the actual layout of the website. It needs to be easy to navigate and fairly intuitive so visitors can find what they are looking for.
A number of search engines count the quantity and quality of links to content to help rank it. The idea is simply that people are not going to link to junk content. No one likes having their time wasted. The higher the SERP (or PageRank) of the website providing the link, the more weight it carries on the calculation.
A website that wants to compete needs to have quality, relevant text. A number of marketers will build a website with relevant information that does not necessarily focus on sales. Instead, they offer quality articles to demonstrate their expertise. Additionally, that type of content is what others want to link to.
Example: A computer repair and building business wants to build an SEO friendly website. A bad approach would be for the business to just post up a bunch of their product and sales pages. Why? That content is only relevant to people looking to specifically purchase that content. However, if the same business posted articles about choosing the right components, how to assemble a computer yourself, and more informative articles; their website becomes more relevant to a bigger group of people. They can still have their products and services posted, but now they will have much more relevant traffic from people wanting to build their own computer, which is their potential customer base.
Applying SEO To A Business Website
SEO is an integral part of any business website strategy. Actually applying these principles to a website comes down to the choice between doing it yourself and hiring an SEO expert. A medium to large business is going to want to outsource the work to an expert. A small business needs to evaluate their current situation and what they can afford. A person can do their own SEO work with reasonable results.
Why Hire An SEO Expert?
Search engines are not static entities. They constantly change and tweak their algorithms to make improvements. An effective SEO campaign takes time and attention over an extended period. There are better ways for businesses to spend that time- such as servicing customers, selling products, or developing new products. An SEO expert makes understanding this field their core competency. The expert will invest their time and money into staying current with changes.
Is SEO A Do-It-Yourself Project?
SEO companies are a business like any other. They demonstrate their expertise in the field by providing high-quality information on their websites and professional blogs. All of the information a person needs to undertake an SEO campaign for their business is freely available. The deciding factor will be if the person will have the time to dedicate to understanding and applying these principles. It can be very tedious work that needs to be performed for essentially the life of the website.
Two Basic Types of SEO
There are several SEO practices that boil down to a few categories. On-Page and Off-Page SEO are both staples of the industry.
On-Page SEO helps a visiting search engine crawler interpret a website more efficiently with a higher degree of accuracy. The following are some effective tactics to help the crawler along.
Name files, images, and directories in a way that directly relate to their content. The crawler will have an easier time understanding a page is about German shepherds if the name of the file is “about-german-shepherds.html.” Meta-tags and meta-descriptions are important. Ensure any images posted have their meta-tags edited to reflect what is in the picture. Crawlers cannot discern that information from the picture. A meta description is a short blurb that the crawler looks at to see what the page is about. Visit sitemaps.org to draw up a Sitemap for submission to search engines. This website provides the standard for a majority of search engines. Freshly launched websites want to submit a Sitemap because it lets the search engine know the website is there. Crawlers will eventually find the website by following links. That can take quite a while for a new website that has little to no links to it.
Off-Page SEO is utilised to help draw external attention from other websites and users to stimulate growth. Different elements of Off-Page SEO include backlinks, website PageRank, and domain expiration.
Search engines do not like to see websites with a domain expiring in under a year. It suggests that the user is not planning to be there for very long. Register domains for at least two years at a time and do not wait until the last minute to renew. Backlink generation comes down to the quality of the entity linking to a website. Provide a website worth linking to by offering a robust platform of information that people can use. Hosting a regularly updated business blog on the domain is an excellent method for link-building. The greater the PageRank, the more it is going to be shown to search engine users. More users mean more exposure and more chance for linking. A business that wants to undertake its own SEO work needs to know the processes of the search engine as intimately as their own industry.
The benefits for an SEO-friendly web page endless. It leads to new customers, increased conversions, more relevant traffic, online authority, and greater rankings from search engines.
All businesses, no matter the size, can benefit from using SEO practices for their website. SEO does not produce overnight results. A business should ensure that any approach they adapt will be able to continue fueling its effort into the future.
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