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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.

Seo Freelancer

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.

Meta Tags & Optimizing Metadata for SEO

How To Seo A Website

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.

4 Ways Big Data Is Changing SEO

Seo Evaluation

If you've ever tried to deal with search engine optimization, you most likely have, at some point or another, wanted to bundle your whole site up and toss it into the nearest virtual trash can. Particularly if you felt compelled to focus on keywords, or any other technique calculated to artificially pique someone's mouse clicks.

You should be delighted to hear then, if you haven't heard yet, that the old-fashioned concept of SEO is deader than last week's sandwich. Google pretty much pounded the crap out of keyword stuffing and other absurdities with the search algorithm changes it's made over the last couple of years. And then Google made search secure, which means you can't even see what keywords someone used to get to your site.

It's about time, because all the minutiae blinded entrepreneurs to what is really important: making a connection with an audience. The term--not exactly new--that seems to be displacing SEO is OAO, online audience optimization. Before getting too squirrelly about another Three Letter Acronym, let's get grounded and think about what's important.

Really Know Your Audience

Over on the Marketingland blog, Brian Clark quoted great old-time advertising copyrighter Eugene Schwartz:

One hour a day, read. Read everything in the world except your business. Read junk. Very much junk. Read so that anything that interests you will stick in your memory. Just read, just read, just read... There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use.

Clark takes this to mean that you have to understand the language and words people use so you know how to talk to them. I'll take it a step further. Not only do you need to know how they talk, which lets you better guess how they might specifically look for what you offer, but you also need to understand what they find funny. What scares them. What is important to them. How they think. Until you do, they're only marks and you do nothing more than run calculated cons. After you do understand them, they're real people and you might find yourself caring a bit about them. Good--care more.

Translate Caring Into Specific Actions

Do you care about your significant other, family members, or friends? If so, then there are plenty of times that you'll do specific things that you know make them happy. Emotion isn't an abstract concept, but something that drives behavior. Let the same thing happen in your marketing after you start to care about the audience. For example, Linda Ruth lists nine steps for OAO, including be consistent and clear about strategy and purpose, encourage audience participation, and employ engagement metrics and gamification techniques. Maybe you'll find that your list is the same. Maybe it will be somewhat different. Just make sure it comes with a focus on customers and how you can provide what they need.

It's like going into a shop you like where the people recognize you and get your interests and tastes. That's all you're trying to do. When the technology, any technology, gets in the way, drop it out back and return to the basics.