What Is SEO

what-is-seo

Search Engine Optimization

It is all too often assumed that, once someone has created a website, it is only a matter of time that it will appear in the results of a Google (search engine) search. When this doesn’t happen, people tend to get despondent and abandon the idea of their website bringing any new business in and tend to leave it in place just because, after all, everyone has to have a website, don’t they…

This need not be the case and often the solution lies in a few tweaks on the website, combined with the creation of an online presence to get one listed up high on the results page. (Yes, I make it sounds easy but anything of value is going to require a bit of work.)

“It is all too often assumed that, once someone has created a website, it is only a matter of time that it will appear in the results of a Google search.”

When I tell people I do SEO, they mostly haven’t a clue what exactly it is that I do. When I start to explain, they tend to look at me like I am a rocket scientist (I may admit to slightly enjoying that part), but I have to add that, though it is a science, it is not impossible, more very probable, that, with your SEO in place, you will start to enjoy front page rankings for relevant searches and, most of all, begin enjoying the benefits of the revenue from the new business it brings in for you.

Search Engine Optimization is a mixture of art and science that enables your website to be discovered by search engines. It is affected by many factors but essentially comes down to enabling your site to appear in the search results (Search Engine Results Page, SERPS) of a search result.

“Search Engine Optimization is a mixture of art and science that enables your website to be discovered by search engines.”

Search Engines

Before we can cover SEO in detail, it is important to understand the history, ethos and workings of search engines. Most people are not familiar with the term “search engine”. A search engine is software that keeps an index or “list” of all the websites it discovers. It retains the information about those websites and refers somebody searching for information entered into the search engine by means of keywords, phrases or questions, to a list of relevant websites.

Most people instantly think of Google when they are thinking of a search engine or doing a search on the internet. Google was founded in 1998 and rapidly became the most favoured of search engines. As in any business, there is always competition. Bing, founded in 2009 and Yahoo, founded in 1994 are close competitors and the competition is fierce. In the early days of search engines, most of them decided on how relevant a website is to a particular search in a very simple manner, keywords and the number of visitors to that site.

Search engines have “robots” or “spiders” that crawl the web and gather all the information required for the indexing of websites. In the earlier days of the web, these spiders were quite primitive and were easily tricked. These days they are rapidly growing more intelligent as advanced algorithms are developed.

“In the earlier days of the web, these spiders were quite primitive and were easily tricked. These days they are rapidly growing more intelligent as advanced algorithms are developed.”

The reason for this is the fierce competition between the search engines. Lets take Google as an example. The first thing one must realize when embarking on optimizing a website, is that Google is a product. It has to remain the best product on the market or people will simply stop using it. If people stop using it, it will lose revenue from advertising. This is the bottom line. In order for it to remain the best, it has to provide the most relevant results for a search. This is the reason why its algorithms are constantly growing.

“Google is a product. It has to remain the best product on the market or people will simply stop using it”

Producing relevant results is primarily what keeps search engines in business and enables them to provide us with other products, adding to their ability to keep us as clients. Even though the products are free of charge, extremely powerful and part of our daily lives (Google Search, Google Maps and Gmail to name but a few) we should never forget the service provider/client dynamic here.

How Does SEO Work

SEO consists of two parts, on-site SEO and off-site SEO. On site SEO is providing search engines all the relevant information about your website in various ways. Here are a few:

  • Page URL
  • Page title
  • Page meta description
  • Content in the form of text
  • Image names, keywords and alt attributes
  • Internal link structure
  • The constant addition of new content

The above are a few of the more “organic SEO techniques” to improve your site’s optimization. This is, as always, the easy bits. There are more advanced methods. Here are a few:

  • Optimizing images, script and html for faster page load speeds
  • Submitting sitemaps
  • Social media interaction
  • Defining geo-location
  • Structured data markup

Again, these are a few methods of on-site optimization which defines where and how you appear in the SERPS. There are also off-site methods. Here are a few:

  • External links
  • Ad words campaigns
  • Social media campaigns
  • Becoming an authority in your field my means of education, affiliation or information

The above are only a few aspects involved in the improvement of your site’s optimization and when doing so, one should always remember that one has two audiences here, human visitors and robots and the two work in an alarmingly similar manner.

What is more important to keep in mind is, even though this is a very technical process, your website needs to contain valuable information portrayed in an aesthetically pleasing way to convert visitors into clients.

“Your website needs to contain valuable information portrayed in an aesthetically pleasing way to convert visitors into clients.”