With SEO being the all-new rage in marketing, let’s try and understand what it is and how it affects your web searches. In other words, here’s SEO simplified for you.
What is SEO / Search Engine Optimization?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” In simple terms, it means the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you will garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business.
How does SEO work?
Search engines such as Google and Bing use bots to crawl pages on the web, going from site to site, collecting information about those pages, and putting them in an index. Next, algorithms analyze pages in the index, taking into account hundreds of ranking factors or signals, to determine the order pages should appear in the search results for a given query.
An Internet marketing campaign may drive organic search results to websites or web pages but can involve paid advertising on search engines. All search engines have a unique way of ranking the importance of a website. Some search engines focus on the content while others review Meta tags to identify who and what a website’s business is. Most engines use a combination of Meta tags, content, link popularity, click popularity, and longevity to determine a site’s ranking. To make it even more complicated, they change their ranking policies frequently. This paper provides an overview of search engine optimization strategies and pitfalls.
In commercial web search engine result rankings, four stakeholder groups are involved:
- search engine providers,
- content providers, and
- search engine optimizers.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a multi-billion-dollar industry and responsible for making content visible through search engines. Due to the exponential growth of the Internet in recent years, search engines have the complex task of sorting through billions of pages and displaying only the most relevant pages for the submitted search query. Google has become an essential link between people and the information they seek online. For this reason, any webmaster or search engine optimization (SEO) engineer should be actively learning the techniques that drive visitors to their site.
People are searching for any manner of things directly related to your business. Beyond that, your prospects are also searching for things that are only loosely related to your business. These represent even more opportunities to connect with those folks and help answer their questions, solve their problems, and become a trusted resource for them.
According to a recent study, there are about 3 million new sites each month. As a result of this continued growth, it has become increasingly difficult for websites to be visible to all the other competitor’s sites.
Another study found that “over 80% of first visits to a web site from search engine. Of those visits more than 76% use Google search in the world “. These studies show how achieving top rankings in search engine results is essential to continued visibility. Therefore, getting top positions in search engine results is vital for the constant flow of users to the websites, and this is where the value of SEO comes in.
Effect of SEO on your search
Let’s take a look at the SEO-driven search process.
1. The first step in search engine optimization is determining what you’re optimizing for. This means identifying terms people are searching for, also known as “keywords,” that you want your website to rank for in search engines like Google. There are several key factors to take into account when determining the keywords you want to target on your site:
- Search Volume – The first factor to consider is how many people are actually searching for a given keyword. The more people there are searching for a keyword, the bigger the potential audience you stand to reach. Conversely, if no one is searching for a keyword, there is no audience available to find your content through search.
- Relevance – A term may be frequently searched for, but that does not necessarily mean that it is relevant to your prospects. Keyword relevance, or the connection between content on a site and the user’s search query, is a crucial ranking signal.
- Competition – Keywords with higher search volume can drive significant amounts of traffic, but competition for premium positioning in the search engine results pages can be intense.
You’re likely getting some traffic from search engines if you have an existing site. If that’s the case, you can use some of your keyword data to help you understand which terms are driving traffic (and which you might be able to rank a bit better for).
Unfortunately, Google has stopped delivering a lot of the information about what people are searching for to analytics providers. Google makes some of this data available in their free Webmaster Tools interface (if you haven’t set up an account, this is a precious SEO tool both for unearthing search query data and diagnosing various technical SEO issues).
2. Once you’ve taken the time to understand your prospects, have looked at the keywords driving traffic to your competitors and related sites, and have looked at the terms driving traffic to your site, you need to work to understand which terms you can conceivably rank for and where the best opportunities lie.
3. When you have your keyword list, the next step is implementing your targeted keywords into your site’s content. Each page on your site should target a core term and a “basket” of related terms.
Search Engine Optimization is a keystone of any good web marketing strategy. Good SEO skills are also good web management skills, as they give rise to the application based on web standards, information organization, and well-written subject content.
4. Finally, sites must do what is necessary to get noticed by the competition to stay in business, which means paying attention to crucial processes such as SEO to increase your website visibility.
SEO methods will keep growing in relevance, and research in this area is bound to grow as the Internet continues to grow. As mentioned, Google has become an essential link in how clients and companies find each other. And in many ways, SEO can help close that gap.