Search Engine Optimization is Also Known As SEO
WE will discuss how search engines work and why search engine optimization is important.
In the second section, we’ll discuss basic techniques and important factors in SEO and search rankings.
And, in the final section of this guide we’ll discuss how to maintain and continually improve SEO long term.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is optimizing your content to drive search engine traffic to your work.
It involves gaining a thorough understanding of how search engines work and then reflecting that knowledge in your writing and webpage design to maximize traffic to and user experience on your page.
SEO is important because search engines like Google, YAHOO!, and Bing drive the majority of web traffic. Shares on social media can cause short term spikes in stats, but real, long term success comes from maximizing search engines ability to drive traffic to your page.
Not only will good SEO improve search rankings and increase traffic for the author, but it helps people interested in your topic find your page and improves the viewer’s experience as well.
SEO involves strategically using appropriate keywords, building links to your work and making your pages search engine friendly. Although it is important to understand what SEO is, it is also important to understand what SEO isn’t. While SEO can make a big difference in stats, it cannot fix bad writing or poor content. SEO can make good writing into a great, high performing webpage, but it cannot turn poor content into good writing.
How Search Engines Work
Search Engines use “spiders” or “crawlers” to build an index of the webpages available, the words on each page, and where on the page those words were located.These program robots begin on popular webpages and add important words found on the page to the search engine’s index. From there, they follow every link on the page and index the corresponding pages before using the links on those pages to go to the next set of pages, and so on and so forth. This process is known as crawling.
Once this information is gathered by the spiders, it is encoded and stored for indexing. In order to even out the difference between the time needed to search a term beginning with a popular letter like ‘t’ and a search term beginning with a less popular letter like ‘q,’ a numerical value is applied to each word. This process is known as hashing. Not only does hashing even out problems related to letter frequency, but it condenses the index. Only the numerical value and a link to the actual information is stored in the index. This increases index and search speed, especially with more complicated searches that involve multiple words.
When a user performs a search, he or she types a query into the search box. Boolean operators can be used to define specific relationships between the terms in a query. Some of the most common operators are:
- AND-requires that both terms are on the page
- OR-requires that one term or the other is on the page
- NOT-excludes pages that include the following term
- NEAR-requires that two terms be near each other on the page
- “quotation marks”-requires the query be treated as a phrase, instead of each significant word in the query being considered an individual keyword
- FOLLOWED BY-requires that one term be followed by another
These searches are defined as literal searches. Research is currently underway on concept based searching which uses statistics statistical analysis of webpages containing your query to recommend pages you might be interested in, as well as natural language searching which allows users to type a question into the search box using the simple language they would use to ask a friend their question instead of using Boolean operators.
There’s More than One Search Engine
Each search engine uses different rules for determining which words are indexed and which words aren’t. Some search engines index every word on the page. Others focus on the most common words, the words in titles and subtitles, meta tags and the first few lines of text.
If you’ve ever tried searching the same phrase on different search engines, you probably noticed that you got different results. This is because each engine uses different algorithms to weight and index keywords and determine search result rankings. Search engine ranking algorithms use website popularity, meta tags, number of back links (links to the page), keyword frequency and location and a wide variety of other factors to rank webpages and how well they correlate to viewer searches.
In addition to relevance, website popularity is taken into account in determining search rankings. As more interested users are directed to your page by your SEO techniques, not only will the techniques increase your relevancy scores, but the popularity component of the ranking algorithms will increase as well.
(For more concrete information on specific ranking factors and their relative weight please see this website.)
Your Audience is Important in SEO
Now that you know how search engines function, we need to consider how users interact with search engines. To conduct a search, the user types a few keywords into the search box and clicks enter, browses the results and selects a page to visit. If the user is unsatisfied, he or she will return to the search and select another result or modify their query for a new result list.
People perform searches because they a) want to go somewhere specific on the web b) want to do something specific or c) learn a piece of information. In order to create a high performing webpage, you need to think like your user.
Ask yourself how many of your audience’s needs can be met on your page. Add additional, relevant content that meets these needs to attract more viewers and happier views. Then ask yourself if your audience can find your page. What queries might your target audience put into the search engine? Are those keywords found in your titles, subtitles, alt text, summary and first few sentences?
Remember, building content for your users will lead to better results than trying to build pages for search engines.
Search Engine Optimization SEO for Writers
In the world of online marketing, misinformation abounds--and it gets compounded exponentially by an incredibly dynamic and rapidly evolving world. Most of the things you think you know (but don't) about search-engine optimization, or SEO, may have been true a few years ago but have changed; one of the following was always a myth.
Here are some of the myths you need to move beyond to get smarter about SEO.
Myth 1: Metatag Descriptions Help Your Rankings
Not anymore; in fact, metatags are no longer even indexed by Google and Bing. But don't ignore them altogether: Your metatags form the text that is displayed along with your link in the search results--and a more compelling description will compel more users to click on your listing instead of on others.
Here's example of ours; the metatag is everything below the URL.
Myth 2: The More Inbound Links, the Better
False. In all the recent updates to Google's algorithm, the search giant has made it a core priority to have quality trump quantity. Gone are the days of having thousands of superlow-quality links driving up rankings; in fact, creating those links can look spammy and get your site penalized.
Focus on obtaining links from sites that are relevant to your products, services, or industry--and on having those links be surrounded by relevant text. A blog review about your "blue widget" that links to your site is far more valuable than a rogue link for "blue widget" stuck in the footer or sidebar of some site--even a highly ranked one.
Myth 3: PageRank Still Matters
Google's infamous PageRank (named after Google co-founder and now-CEO Larry Page, mind you) is a 1-to-10 ranking of the overall authority of every website; the bigger the number, the higher the rank. In years past, this seemingly all-powerful number dominated the attention of SEO experts.
But today, Google's algorithm has evolved well beyond any single indicator. The PageRank still exists, and if all things are equal, a higher PageRank trumps a lower one--but factors such as relevance and context matter, too.
As with inbound links: If you run a dental practice in Los Angeles, it's better to have a link from a site that reviews doctors and dentists in L.A., even if it has a PageRank of 4, than to have a paid link with no context in a huge site with a higher PageRank of 7.
Myth 4: Google Prefers Keyword-Rich Domains
In years past, Google seemed to put a disproportionate amount of emphasis on keywords in the domain name (what you may think of as the URL). For example, vinylhousesiding.com would almost certainly be ranked first in a search for vinyl house siding.
Not anymore, says Google. If vinylhousesiding.com is in fact the more relevant, authoritative site on the topic, it will probably still rank first--but not because of its domain name alone.
Myth 5: Websites Must Be 'Submitted' to Search Engines
In 2001, yes, this was the case--indeed, this was the first service that my company, Wpromote, ever provided. But in 2012? Not at all. At this point, if there is any connection from any site to yours, your site will be quickly discovered by Google.
Note that being indexed is a far cry from achieving high rankings--but that initial step of submission is no longer needed or helpful.
Myth 6: Good SEO Is Basically About Trickery
False, false, false. Although there are still some SEO experts out there who go about their business trying to "trick Google," this is absolutely not the way to provide good, lasting SEO.
Good SEO is about creating a relevant, informative website, with unique content and great user experience, and encouraging the sharing and distribution of great content to drive organic publicity and links back to your site.
In the end, this is exactly what Google explicitly wants to reward with high rankings--so it is anything but "tricking" the search engines.
I'm planning to dive into other online marketing topics in the future, to find the biggest myths--so if you've got suggestions, please weigh in below.
Will New Top Level Domains Matter in 2015?
If you have an app that you'd like to rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs), it's important that you understand the relevant ranking factors. Otherwise, you're just wasting your time.
In this article, we'll go over the importance of app optimization and explain how you can make sure that your app appears in the SERPs.
Why You Need to Optimize
It's important to optimize your app for the various search engines because a recent report shows that 27% of users find apps with a web search. That's up from just 2-3% in 2014.
Expect that upward trend to continue.
Also, keep in mind that Google is putting on emphasis on app downloads from search results and downplaying Google Play. Even though, at this point in time, 40% of people still find apps by searching in an app store, it's still important to optimize your app for the stragglers who use Google web search for everything.
Finally, keep in mind that Google has gotten better at ranking apps over the past couple of years. That's good news for search engine optimizers who want to use Google's search algorithm to push their apps higher in the SERPs.
The App Pack
Of course, when people talk about "apps," they're talking about mobile apps. That's a reality not lost on Google.
As a result, Google now features an app pack at the top of mobile search results. If you open a browser on your mobile device right now and search for "photo editor," you should see the app pack at the very top of the search results.
The app pack can include one, three, or six apps. If there are more than six apps that match the search criteria, the search results will display an arrow at the bottom of the pack so that users can view more apps.
Each app in the pack not only displays the app title, but also its rating and its price. If a user clicks on the app square, the underlying operating system will open the app in the app store.
Keep in mind that app pack results are specific to the operating system. That means only apps that work on the user's mobile platform will be displayed.
How the App Pack Impacts Your Brand
If you optimize your app so that it appears in the app pack, you could adversely affect your brand presence in the SERPs. That's because for every app that appears in the pack, one web ranking is pushed off the page.
So if your website is ranking at the #1 spot right now for a specific keyword and you optimize your app for that same keyword so that it appears in the app pack, your site will be pushed down lower in the SERPs. That's something you want to keep in mind as you begin your optimization efforts.
Mistake #1: Not Using the Right Keywords
One of the first steps to any optimization effort is to determine the right keywords. App optimization is no different.
When people search for an app, they're usually searching based on a descriptive noun. For example, "travel planner" or "photo editor" are phrases that describe apps frequently search for.
So when you begin your optimization efforts, think about what your app does and come up with a few words or phrases that people might use when searching for it.
Mistake #2: Not Optimizing the Title and Description
Google treats the title of an app similar to how it treats a title tag on a web page. Google also treats app descriptions as on-page text on a web page.
That's why it's a great idea to include the aforementioned keywords in your title and description. You'll have to do that when you submit your app to the OS-specific app store.
Of course, you'll likely want your title to be branded. But if there's enough room for a keyword in the title (for example, "PhotoBomb - A Photo Editor") then include it as well.
Finally, keep in mind that standard rules about keyword usage apply here. Avoid over-stuffing keywords into your description just to rank higher. That strategy will likely backfire.
Mistake #3: Ignoring Reviews
Reviews of your app matter for two reasons.
First, Google might rank your app based on keywords from user reviews on the app page. As with traditional SEO efforts, keywords towards the top of the page are given the most weight.
Also, the star rating of your app will have an impact on its rank as well. It's possible that an app with the keyword that's only in the description might outrank an app with the keyword in the title because it has a higher star rating.
Of course, the star rating might also impact the click-through rate. If your app has only a couple of stars, don't expect too many people to click on it.
Mistake #4: Ignoring App-Specific Keywords
One of the best ways to move ahead of your competition when it comes to ranking your app is to optimize for app-specific words.
For example, use the word "app" in your title or description. While it's not likely that anyone searching for an app in the app store will include that word in the search query, people who are using Google to search for an app are very likely to do so.
Also, include the operating system of the app in the title or description. Again, people searching on Google Play for an app probably won't include the word "Android" in their query, but folks who are using Google search could do so.
Wrapping It Up Application SEO
Moving your app to the top of the SERPs is no different than moving your website to the top of the SERPs in this way: it requires acting on the right information.
Today we just touched on the most basic mistakes. There is a lot to know about this topic and many advanced strategies that you can pursue.