To a novice, SEO can seem as complicated as learning a new language. This is further from the truth, but there are lots of different things to consider when fully trying to optimize your website. Search engines use special algorithms and formulas to analyze every webpage that they can crawl, in order to determine where each site should sit on the search engine’s rankings, for every single keyword variation. By performing SEO, you are essentially reverse engineering this algorithm to present the information to the search engine crawl bots in the most basic and straightforward way.
How does SEO work?
Search engine algorithms are often tweaked and manipulated every year, but there are a couple of key components that are the foundation for setting the conditions to successfully hit the first page of results.
This refers to your web infrastructure and the content that is on it. Good optimization includes targeting the most appropriate keywords that you can for your site, as well as creating new content to target new keywords continually. Having a well thought out and planned website infrastructure allows an increased ease of movement, which search engines will also favour.
Think of this as what the rest of the world wide web thinks of your website. Gaining high-quality links from other websites is one of the biggest boosts you can get to your rankings, therefore if your onsite SEO is good, then you should find that your offsite SEO will also increase. Having active social media accounts also greatly benefits your website, so it’s important to maintain as many different accounts as you possibly can, on different platforms. Citation references are also considered by these algorithms, even if there are no physical links back to your website. The more people talk about your site, the better it is.
Keywords are the phrases or specific words that people type into search engines. Therefore, it’s advantageous that you try and revolve your optimization around keywords that are specific to your industry and will benefit you if you reach the first page. Every single page that you create on your site should be optimized for at least one keyword. It’s common practice to use your homepage to try and target your biggest, or most profitable keyword.
When optimizing your page for a keyword, it’s imperative that you do not overuse it. Keyword stuffing was a technique where people would put as many different keywords as they could, as many times as they could, into a single piece of content. Luckily, more advanced algorithms came into place which penalized websites that use this tactic. When Google looks at keyword density, it takes into account how the keyword has been naturally added, as well as whether the keyword has been added to alt tags on images, or if it is presented in the title. This combined effort favours those who produce high quality targeted content.
For perfect optimization, it’s advisable that you create an individual piece of content for every single keyword that you are trying to rank for. This will give you the best possible chance to gain a foothold on the front page of the search results, rather than those who may be accidentally ranking for it due to it accidentally occurring on their page.
Not all websites are created equal, and they are certainly not all equally optimized. We won’t go too much into detail as it’s likely that if you’re reading this, you are not a web developer, but code that is written clutter free will load faster and be read easier by search engine bots. Website load speed is something that algorithms take into account when ranking a page.
Other important pieces of code that are non-web developer friendly are such things like title tag, meta description, and header tags. Using these tags efficiently and correctly will not only make your content look better, but it will also allow the search engine bots to gain the required information faster.
When a search engine sees incoming links from other websites to your website, it will give it more confidence that your site is trustworthy. The general consensus is, if other websites are linking to your website, then it means that you are trustworthy and have something worthwhile to show. This will then result in search engines rating your webpage higher, which means that you will get increased rankings.
There are a few other considerations to take into account when obtaining links, as it’s certainly not a numbers game. The trust and reputation of the websites that are linking to you are also evaluated. If CNN wrote an article about your business and had a link out to your website, it will obviously be worth way more than having a link to your site from a free blogging platform. The relevance of these external sites is also taken into account. Links from other websites in your industry will gain more power, than those that are completely unrelated.
Anchor text and diversity is another thing that is looked at. Search engines favour anchor diversity, as it looks to be more natural. If every anchor text is the same, it will reduce your trust
Social media profiles
Recent search engine algorithms seem to be favouring social media references as something that should be used to help with rankings. This doesn’t mean that you can just create a profile on each platform and be done with it, they need to be regularly used and built up. If you manage to maintain active social media profiles, which engage with other users, it will surely increase your trustworthiness in the eyes of search engines.
Although these are more useful for those who are aiming for local search results or geolocation rankings, citations are recognizable by search engines and will be used as part of the ranking formula. These citations are simple references to your name or brand, as well as your address and website. These will not actually be physical links, but they will still be recognized.