WHAT DOES SEO MEAN FOR YOUR WEBSITE?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, uses techniques to increase a website’s visibility in an organic (not paid for) search result. Since most people do not look beyond the first page of results, SEO has evolved into its own profession whose focus includes content development and management of online marketing campaigns. Along with social media, SEO is one of the major tools in a web marketing toolbox.
Basically, SEO is about keywords—words that a consumer would type into a search engine box to find your or a competitor’s site. This means that for your site to show up high in a search result it should contain text that includes keywords relevant to your product, profession or interest. Keyword text should be included in your HTML elements, such as the page file name, page title, page description, link text, alternative text for images, major headings and subheadings as well as the body text. It is critical to incorporate these keywords naturally—no needless repetition that would impede reading.
Another website property that contributes to a high ranking is the number of back links or links to your site. Having a lot of links to your site gives it value, so for starters you can ask colleagues, suppliers, people you do business with, bloggers, friends—including social media connections—anyone with an online presence—if they would be willing to link to your site.
The internet is all about delivering content quickly. A potential customer or client will not stand by patiently to wait even 5 seconds for your site to download into their browser. Therefore, Google uses download speed as another measure for ranking. Bandwidth is the great limiter, which is especially the case for mobile devices. So, for example, if your site requires the presence of high octane media such as image, audio or video files, they must be compressed, so that file size and quality are balanced. A large image will take much longer than a thumbnail to download. An image that fills the whole browser window will take even longer. So you must decide what items are worth the sacrifice of speed and rank.
Search engines use scripts, called web crawlers or robots, to crawl the internet and index websites. These crawlers go to a web page to collect keywords and follow links on your site to get a sense of what your site is about. So building a website properly with semantic HTML adds another layer of value to a site. This means that the site’s content—text and media—will be easily understood by a search engine crawler, and therefore, will show up in relevant search results. Adding a site map also contributes to accurate indexing.
Monitoring Your Site
Periodically updating your site’s content will bring a search engine crawler back for a return visit to look for new content, which also ensures a high ranking. This is why blogs and forums often appear on the first page of a search engine result. If you have a portfolio site, rotate your work or consider adding a blog. If you are a business selling products or services, create a “special of the week” or similar customer service campaign to generate return visits.
The Finer Details
Because search engines focus on the user experience, attention to the finer details, such as a custom error page, sitemaps and a page that tells web crawlers which content is not relevant to their activity, also contribute to a site’s visibility in search engine results.
Many companies hire SEO specialists to increase their rank and visibility. Besides working with you to generate keywords and back links to your site, they will use pay-per-click methods available through paid advertising such as Google AdWords, where you pay for your site to appear in a relevant search or website page. A small fee is generated if a consumer clicks on your Google ad. A lot of work goes into figuring out keywords, as well as their variations, when using AdWords.
A couple of important notes to remember are that because we are still in the process of developing new uses for the internet, search engines are continually refining and revising their search algorithms. Beware of businesses that promise quick results soon after your site goes live. Most recently, social media has influenced Google's ranking parameters. This is the main reason for maintaining your website.
Also, it takes time to build a high ranking. A new website does not immediately generate a high ranking out the gate, unless value is already present, such as the case where a celebrity unveils a new website. Beware of businesses that promise quick results soon after your site goes live. The only way to accomplish such a feat would be to use “black hat” tactics that can result in being blacklisted by any or all of the major search engines. As with any endeavor in life, building real value requires time and effort.12 September 2012