Search Engine Optimization
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization or SEO, in short, is a set of methods that can be followed by website (or blog) owners to optimize their websites for search engines and thus improve their search engine rankings. In addition, it is a great way to increase the quality of your website by making it user- friendly, faster and easier to navigate. SEO can also be considered as a framework since the whole process has a number of rules (or guidelines), a number of stages and a set of controls.
In simpler terms, Search Engine Optimization is a way to improve your website so that it will appear closer to the top positions in the search results of Google, Yahoo, Bing or other Search engines. When you perform a search on Google the order by which the returning results are displayed, is based on complex algorithms. These algorithms (also known as search engine ranking algorithms) take a number of factors into account before they decide which web page will be shown in the first place, second place etc.
Why is SEO important?
In today’s competitive market, SEO marketing is more important than ever. Search engines serve millions of users per day looking for answers to their questions or for solutions to their problems.
Search engine optimization is important because:
The majority of search engines users are more likely to click on one of the top 5 suggestions in the results pages (SERPS). To take advantage of this and gain visitors to your or customers to your online store, your website needs to appear in one of the top positions.
SEO is not only about search engines but good SEO practices improve the user experience and usability of a website.
Users trust search engines and having a presence in the top positions for the keywords the user is searching, increases the web site’s trust.
SEO is good for the social promotion of your website. People who find your website by searching Google or Yahoo are more likely to promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other social media channels.
SEO is important for the smooth running of a big website. Websites with more than one author can benefit from SEO in a direct and indirect way. Their direct benefit is an increase in search engine traffic and their indirect benefit is having a common framework (checklists) to use before publishing content on the site.
Main stages of the Search Engine Optimization process
As I mentioned above, SEO is not a static process but rather a framework with rules and processes. For simplicity though, SEO can be broken down into 3 main stages:
With technical SEO you can ensure that search engines can crawl and index your website without any issues. The first stage in the SEO process is called technical SEO. As the name implies, technical SEO has nothing to do with the actual content of a website or with website promotion methods.
Rules to apply on your site and content to make it search engine friendly. It has to do primarily with the content and other elements found on a page. Unlike technical and off-page SEO, the main focus is to provide search engine crawlers enough signals so that they can understand the context of your content.
Ways to promote your website or blog so that it can rank higher in search results. Besides the changes, you can do to your website (on-site SEO) so that it ranks higher in the SERPs, the other way to improve your website’s ranking position is by using off-site SEO technics.
What is the difference between SEO and Internet marketing?
Some people often ask me “Is SEO the same as Internet Marketing?” The simplest answer I can give is that SEO is one of the tools available in your Internet Marketing arsenal. It is not Internet Marketing as such but it can be part of your overall Internet Marketing campaign which normally includes other things like social media promotion, content strategy etc.
Good content is still the most important success factor with or without SEO
SEO cannot help you if you don’t have good content. In other words, if you try to SEO a website with not very good content your chances of succeeding (in the long term) are minimum. On the other hand, a website with good content can do well with or without SEO. SEO will just give the website an extra boost. It is important since a good SEO approach can drive more traffic to your website, blog or online store and gain more customers, make sales and fulfill your business objectives.
How to create SEO-friendly content
Quality is always important when producing new content, but it’s the SEO that can boost your efforts of reaching a target audience. SEO-friendly content doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, provided that you understand how on-page SEO can work alongside your content.
Focus on structure
Your headline is among the first things that users will come across when carrying out a search. This makes them important, and it’s useful to brainstorm as many variations as you can until you land on the best candidate. It’s not just the content, but also its structure, that helps search engines decide on the results they’ll display first. Thus, a clear structure with headings and paragraphs that facilitate reading are preferred both from a user perspective and also from a search perspective. Headings also help search engines get a quick overview of your content, which is why it can be beneficial to feature your focus keyword at least once.
Whether you follow the structure of H1 to H6, or simply add H2 and H3 headings at relevant points throughout the text, consistent structure in your pieces of content is appreciated.
Keywords are less often used nowadays as the first signal to indicate what your post is about, but they are still helpful to offer an overview of the topic you’re focusing on. Keyword research keywords are still useful when trying to decide on the most interesting topics for your audience. Keywords can still be part of your content, provided that they are added in context and at the right balance. There’s no need to sacrifice the quality of your content to include more keywords, as keyword stuffing can lead to the opposite of the result you want.
Aim for readability
The readability of your content has to do with the simplicity of its language, the lack of grammatical or syntactical errors, and the sentence structure. Online readability tests allow you to learn the “reading age” someone needs to understand your content, and they depend on:
- Sentence length
- Number of syllables per words
- Frequency of passive voice
Despite the different readability formulas, you can still gain valuable insights into your writing that become even more useful if you want to target a wide audience.
The optimization of your images provides an additional opportunity to show up in search results, this time in image search. As visual content becomes more and more prominent, it cannot be left out of SEO. Luckily it’s not time-consuming to optimize your images. All you have to do is keep in mind a few simple tips:
- Always keep the file name relevant
- Be careful with the file sizes, as they affect the page speed
- Don’t forget to add alt text, or else a title for your image
- Think like a user when naming your images
- Focus on quality images and avoid generic ones
If you want to create SEO-friendly content, here’s what you need to remember:
- Focus on user intent
- Be authentic
- Come up with the best headlines for your content
- Pay attention to the content’s structure
- Use keywords wisely
- Edit, proofread and aim for readability
- Use both internal and external links to add further value
- Optimize all your images to gain new opportunities for search ranking.