What is SEO – Search Engine Optimization?
SEO – or Search Engine Optimization – is the practice of enhancing your website in such a way that search engines, like Google or Bing, place your website at a higher level on search results. The higher your website shows up on search results, the higher amounts of free traffic stop by your site!
How Do Search Engines Know How to Rank Pages?
Each search engine has a method of looking at websites and analyzing them to determine what content is relevant. This is called an algorithm. These algorithms change all the time and are looking for a variety of factors. If your website has enough of the factors, done in the right combination, you will get a higher ranking.
It might help to think of an algorithm as a recipe. Search engines scour the internet to see how many ingredients from their recipe are on a webpage and how those ingredients mix together.
What are the Right Ingredients?
First of all, the quality and relevance of your content is of the utmost importance to SEO. If you produce quality work, on a regular basis, aimed to serve your readers, you are already in a strong position.
You also need to ensure your content is easy to read and conversational. Consider keeping your paragraphs short (two – four sentences) and to the point.
Words matter, too. Make sure you know your subject and boil it down to one or two target keywords. Make sure those keywords are reflected in the title of your webpage, even if your title doesn’t appear, search engines can read the title.
Speaking of items search engines can read, they can read meta-data as well. So, keep your tagging, descriptions, alternative text, and URLs on point. Use your keywords and related keywords in these places, even if your reader won’t see them.
Within your content, use those one or two target keywords three to five times, related keywords once or twice, and long tail keywords once, if applicable.
Here is an example of the different types of keywords:
- Target Keyword: Microwave
- Related Keywords: General Electric Microwave
- Long Tail Keywords: Built-in General Electric Microwave with an overhead light
Don’t overuse keywords. Think back to keeping quality content. If you repeat a word over and over in a text, readers won’t like it. They’ll get bored or become distracted by the word. So, make sure your keywords are used in a natural way.
Search engines are getting smarter and they’ll see overuse of a keyword as a red flag and penalize you.
If you include pictures, don’t use pictures over 600 pixels. The larger the picture size, the more time it takes for a website to load, and the lower your rankings go.
Another aspect of SEO are the links between different websites. The more websites that link to you, the more relevant a search engine will rank your site. While you can pay for websites to link to your website, it isn’t recommended. Search engine algorithms are overcoming this practice. They rank sites on trustworthiness and the more that trustworthy websites link to you, the higher your website becomes ranked.
While SEO seems a bit overwhelming, keep the main thing, the main thing! Produce awesome content and the rest will follow!