Search Engine Optimization, SEO for many people is a vague concept. That the rules constantly change and what previously worked, now likely to be totally unacceptable, may seem to support the vague concept.
What is SEO?
However, SEO is the strategic development, adjustment and improvement of content to attract and influence high rankings by the search engines in organic search results. SEO increases the possibility that your content will be seen by searchers.
Contrary to popular belief online, SEO aims to enhance the user experience and provide the most relevant results to best serve the needs of searchers. To hear many gurus and online “experts” tell it, you’re forgiven if you thought that SEO was doing your best to outwit the established SEO rules and guidelines to rank unnaturally high in the search results.
Search engines may not so willingly forgive though. You’re likely to be ‘slapped’ completely off your rankings, with penalties if you resort to questionable or shady – ‘black hat’ – tactics to affect your rankings.
Who benefits from SEO?
In addition to the benefits to users/consumers, SEO provides numerous benefits and opportunity for the search engines as well as businesses, webmasters and content creators on the web.
Search engines use algorithms and different site metrics to help them determine the most relevant content to searches. Using crawlers (spiders) to scour the web and index pages, search engines are afforded the best or most optimized content from which to decide, for delivery to searchers.
Website owners, content creators, businesses have the opportunity to provide their best or optimized content based on the rules and guidelines set by the search engines. Since it has become standard that consumers first search for information which influence their buying decisions, businesses have the benefit of capitalizing by optimizing their content to increase their chances of being found or deemed relevant for display in search results.
Effective optimization results in increases in traffic, advertising potential, sales and ultimately, revenue. Which is the desired effect by businesses and website owners as well as the search engine companies.
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Factors to consider in optimizing content include:
What your site is about. Unique, informative content that helps solve your visitors problems, answers their questions, tells stories, entertains, is interesting, are all important features that help optimize your content. The theme and title help the search engines to determine your site content. Be sure your theme and title are optimized and complement your content.
keeping your keywords, articles relevant to your niche or what your site is about helps to avoid confusion for your visitors. It also keeps your site consistent with the search engines. In other words, stick to apples if that is what your site is about and save your content about oranges for different blog/site.
Creating high-quality, informative content that other authoritative sites are willing to link to or use as reference will help establish authority of your site while effectively increasing traffic and conversions. Ensure your content follows quality guidelines and your sources are credible.
4. Social Signals/Media
There is current controversy regarding social signals. Google’s Webspam head, Matt Cutts in a Youtube video on January 22, 2014 stated that the tally of your social signals, i.e. your 1000 Facebook likes and 500 shares, Google +1s, tweets, etc., has no impact on algorithms for search engine rankings.
Some SEO blogs/bloggers including Neil Patel on quicksprout.com showed data and described comparisons where the tally of social signals indicated improved rankings. Despite the obvious conflict, active participation in social media is encouraged. Matt Cutts further explained that content, if not signals, of social media pages is crawled, indexed and does influence SERP.
5. Site Navigation
Will your visitors easily find your products and services or are your offers buried beneath mounds of content? Be sure your links are conspicuous and visitors can easily click through and find all of your content. Your bounce rate will decrease and traffic and conversions will increase when visitors are easily able to navigate your site.
6. Ethical Linking
‘Murky’ best describes many findings on link building with very thin lines between ‘white, grey or black hat’ tactics and a variety of ‘ethical’ definitions depending on individual perceptions. One method where you’re unlikely to go wrong with unquestionably ethical links resulting is from building relationships. Investing time and effort for rapport and making honest, trustworthy associations with people, having their best interest at heart, will naturally build strong and mutually beneficial relationships.
A good idea is to monitor your site performance by regularly accessing your site as a visitor would while being mindful of the experience of your visitors. Repair or improve any issues you may find. Are there broken or bad links? Making sure your site always loads quickly and content is effectively presented will ensure a great experience for visitors and keep it best optimized to attract search engines.
SEO clearly is none of the following.
Bad SEO Tactics:
- Link cloaking – Even with legitimate concerns for cloaking links the general rule is that redirects to any other site/URL than intended by the user is a bad tactic.
- keyword stuffing – Overly repetitive use of keywords in your content will definitely attract search engines but with unfavorable results that could get your site labelled as spam.
- Link farming – Exchanging links with other sites in a network all linked to each other with intent to influence search results is a way to get your site banned from the results.
- Spinning articles – SEO favors original content and spun articles are regarded as poor quality. Negative impact from spinning articles is never worth the risk.
- Content Spamming – Content spamming covers a broad range of tactics and includes several of those named above. Suffice to say that many schemes and tactics devised solely to beat SEO rules in order to manipulate and achieve unnatural search results and rankings are likely to be content spamming.
Rather, SEO is the combination of factors by which the search engines determine quality, credibility, usefulness to users, what content is presented and its placement in seach results. Additionally there are local, regional, national, international aspects of SEO. Each with different focus and conditions, requiring different algorithms and metrics to effect specific results.
That said, business trends and practices constantly evolve and change. As technology advances and with fast-paced updating of digital systems and software, it’s clear that keeping up with SEO requires sustained, involved effort.
Ecommerce and online shopping activities are projected to increase exponentially over the next few years. With so much content and traffic to contend with it may be well to remember that SEO, as intended, provides many benefits and opportunities to those in the online community.