What Search Means Today: An introduction to SEO



When you think of the term “search” your mind probably conjures up Google’s creative homepage. Over 74% of consumers use Google as their primary search engine. While the majority of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques discussed below are based on Google’s Algorithm, many of the major ranking factors are shared among all search engines.

Google has hundreds of ranking factors that can push your website to the coveted number one spot. However, if you do search engine optimization (SEO) the wrong way Google will bury your website in their digital sandpit, and it could take years to dig your way back out.

How do search engines work

Before diving into SEO, you have to know how a search engine works. The purpose of search engines is to organize new information (called indexing) and consistently determine the relevancy of the information in conjunction with queries searched.

Search engines use ranking factors such as age of site, inbound links, title tags, meta descriptions etc. to determine relevancy. Not only do search engines rank your domain as a whole but they also rank particular pages on your website. Since the web is constantly changing, your position in the search engine results pages (SERPs) will change often as well.

Search engines also rank your site based on popularity. If your webpage is getting a lot of traffic and inbound links from other credible sites, search engines deduce that the content on your site is important and will rank it higher in the SERPs.

Search engines connect the keywords related to your site. Not only do spiders recognize keywords strategically placed through your website but they also pick up on the keywords used for anchor text (text that links to your site) and those surrounding it.

Creating new content is another factor in rising in the SERPs. Google not only wants the old and reliable but also the fresh and new. This is why news sites rank well in SERPs.

Recent Google algorithm changes

Last month Google released Penguin 2.0, SEOs have seen a few trends with the new upgrade. Many of these trends were identified from their previous Penguin and have only grown in importance in this update.

1)    Google frowns on link spam.

2)    Google integrates more local searches with organic, regardless if location in in the query.

3)    Google favors relevant content creation offsite (aka blog posts, infographics, and videos that link back to your site.

4)    Google pays attention to social signals. Google+, Google’s social network, is now essential for local SEO.

Why is SEO important

It’s proven in numbers that if you rank well (first page of organic results) more potential consumers will visit your site. And more visitors mean more conversions. There’s still a dramatic difference between being on the first page and having the number one spot. The first organic listing on the SERP receives 53% of clicks, the second spot receives 15% and it continues to drop from there.

SEO is not a one and done deal.

Think of search engines as a circular never ending race and each webpage as a runner. If you stop running, you won’t retain that spot in the race and you’ll fall behind your competitors. It takes constant maintenance to rank well in the SERPs.

Search engine optimizers use keyword and competitor research and constant evaluation to strategically build up a website’s popularity in the SERPs. For example, a company like 12 Palms Rehab Center doesn’t just want to rank for their brand name but they also want to rank for drug abuse, addiction problems and other keywords people would use to search.

In the case of smaller niche magazines, most potential readers don’t know the publication’s name. Instead they will search generic terms if they want to know more about a subject. If the magazine isn’t ranking for those keywords related to their niche in the search engine, they will be missing a large chunk of potential readers.

There are two basic areas SEOs focus on to help a webpage rank well: offsite and onsite. Very broad I know, but I’ll get into the details in future articles. Getting your website search engine friendly will not only help the spiders crawl and rank your website more effectively but more importantly it will help users navigate your site.
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Alicia Lawrence

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business, and Advanced Web Rankings.

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