With the introduction of the internet, society as a whole has shifted from a more “secluded” point of view into a more interconnected society where global-thinking is encouraged. The shift not only introduced mankind to a more personal encounter with the world around them but also gave mankind a more personal connection with their favorite brands and businesses, which also affected the dynamics between these businesses and their customers. But what does that mean?
Before the advent of the internet, traditional marketing strategies used by businesses to promote their brand or products were outbound in nature, i.e. methods used were business-centric and designed to target as many people as they can. This dynamic shifted when the internet arrived as businesses turned to inbound strategies (customer-centric methods) as a way to market their brand. One of the most used inbound methods today is Search Engine Optimization.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization, more commonly referred to as SEO, is the process of optimizing a website to make it more visible on the results page of search engines. More precisely, SEO is a collection of techniques used to drive the ranking of a website as high as possible. This means that websites, based on specific keywords, will appear on the first page, or near the first page, of Google’s or other search engines’ results page. This increases the likelihood that people will click on a link that redirects users to a business’s website and generate more revenue through sales.
SEO involves making adjustments and modifications to many different parts of a website. This could involve the addition of certain keywords to published content, adding different headers, tweaking a web page’s description, and many others. When viewed individually, these modifications may seem inconsequential as they might seem like just minor changes. When viewed collectively, however, all of these efforts to modify the site certainly helps to improve site performance as well as user experience when viewing a website.
Why is SEO Important?
Search engines are largely considered to be the gateway to the internet. The majority of web traffic is driven by search engines with Google leading the pack as it controls 91% of the market. Internet Live Stats data reveals that an average of 5.5 billion Google searches is performed each day and Bing in not-so-close second place with upwards of 800 million.
A vast majority of the traffic generated from keyword searches comes from the first page or the ranking page. Research shows that users are 40% more likely to click on your site if you are ranked number 1 on a search engine ranking page (SERP), 30% if you are ranked number 2, and 24% if you are ranked number 3. This all has to do with the algorithms that search engines use, which displays the most relevant sites to the keywords being searched at the top. Websites with low rankings are generally considered to be less relevant and often enjoy less traffic than those ranked at the top. That is why businesses employ various SEO methods in order to improve their SERP ranking.
How do Search Engines Rank Websites?
Search engines are incredibly smart – but not as smart as they have to be. Considering how large the internet is (1.9 billion websites as of the time of writing), they will definitely need a lot of help. That is why they make use of spiders – bots that crawl through the web to look for information about your website that gives search engines an idea on how to rank various websites. And because the internet doesn’t stay stagnant (or else there will be no opportunity for growth), this process is repeated continuously in order to give the most accurate results.
Here is how search engine spiders crawl the internet to give results:
- Discovery – spiders follow external links to find your website. It then follows internal links within your website to find information about your website from the different web pages.
- Indexing – web pages are processed and indexed based on the information gathered. The indexed information is mostly text-based due to some limitations in the crawlers.
- Results – results are displayed based on the relevancy of the indexed information to the searched keywords.
What Factors Should I Optimize?
In order to understand how to properly implement SEO, it is important to understand the various factors that search engines take into account when crawling websites to determine their relevancy and, of course, rank. These factors include:
- Keywords – a site is considered more relevant for a particular period the more it is seen within a site’s web pages. In fact, there used to be a time where the keywords can be stuffed into a piece of content to get higher rankings. That is no longer the case, however, as Google places a higher priority on other factors. But keywords are used to determine a site’s niche and relevance to a specific topic, which still makes it a very important factor.
- Links – internal and external links are very important for different reasons. Internal links improve your site’s navigability, which improves a site’s user experience. Outbound external links help search engines determine your niche and improve the trust quality of your site while inbound external links improve your site’s authority.
- Site Age – Google gives high consideration to older websites since it is viewed as a sign of authority. The older a website is, the more it is viewed as an authority in a specific niche.
- Site Activity – the dynamic nature of the internet calls for constant activity. This means continually adding fresh content as well as keeping older pieces up-to-date will contribute highly to SEO.
- User Experience – user experience is a broad term used to highlight a visitor’s experience while visiting a website. Google wants to highlight the user experience when visiting websites, making it an important consideration when ranking websites. This can be measured using a page’s bounce rate – the amount of time spent on a website before deciding to leave.
Understanding the complex world of SEO can be tough. However, no matter how complex it might be, even a basic understanding of the different factors that are considered in SEO can do wonders for your marketing strategy in the long run. Consider understanding these core SEO concepts as your first step to understanding search engine optimization and the wonders that it can do for your business.