When you type a search term – also known as “keyword” or “keyword phrase” – into your preferred search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo) this returns multiple results often running into the millions and spread out across thousands of websites. So how does the search engine determine which website to list at the top and which one will be 10,000 places lower? They use very complex algorithms to rank web pages in relation to different search terms or keywords. Basically, search engines look for two key factors in deciding how high a website will be ranked in relation to a particular keyword: relevance and authority. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of strategically positioning a website and its pages to rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs) in relation to particular search keywords by increasing its relevance and authority.
Why is SEO so Important?
Whether you run a website which sells products/services, provides content, lead generation, information or anything else it is very important to attract as much traffic as possible from your target market. While you can still get considerable traffic from social media and other mediums, most of the visitors will be untargeted or not in the buying cycle. For the most part the type of visitors you want from internet traffic will be driven by search engines. As such, the higher your website ranks on the mainstream search engines for keyword phrases related to your industry, the higher the amount of targeted traffic your site will receive. If you sell stuff on your website or provide a service that people can contact you about from your website, your sales will be directly proportional to the volume of targeted search traffic you attract. From this perspective, the importance of SEO is plain to see!
On-Page and Off-Page SEO
In a manner of speaking, SEO is all about making your website easy to figure out for search engines. The tactics used to accomplish this are known as on-page SEO. This includes optimization focused on elements which comprise a webpage including the HTML code itself, titles, descriptions, textual content, graphics, videos, and navigation structure of the website among other things.
Off-page optimization on the other hand refers to gaining social signals and getting relevant authority sites to link back to your website (known in SEO jargon as backlinking). This does not automatically translate to mean that the higher the number backlinks, the higher up the SERP a website is ranked. The sites linking back must be high quality and have content that is relevant to your website, and the links must be placed in a natural manner. The anchor text of the links is also important.
Search engines have become very intelligent such that spamming them with low quality backlinks or trying to trick them in other ways does not work anymore. It is very easy to get suckered in by low quality link builders who promise you their “SEO services” for dirt cheap. In this case, you get what you pay for! Going with the lowest bidder in this area will almost certainly yield you negative results in the long run, and may even get your site penalized or de-indexed altogether, which is essentially a DEATH sentence for it! Don’t be fooled. Remember, I warned you!
How to do SEO
While this short post has attempted to simplify the concept of SEO to make it easy for beginners to grasp the idea, in actual fact SEO encompasses so many aspects that it would take hundreds of pages of writing, multiple pictures, and several videos to cover the subject comprehensively. That said, doing SEO is fairly straightforward once you have the technical know-how. But you need to remember that no matter how well you optimize your website for search engines, ultimately it is human readers who will be consuming the content of your site. Make your website SEO friendly as well as interesting and useful for humans, and you will never have to worry about traffic or sales again.