The internet is a wonderful thing! It has opened up possibilities we could have only ever dreamed of a few years ago and helped catapult millions of businesses from small local enterprises into global sensations with just the click of a few buttons.
A large reason for the success of the internet has been its ease of use, which is in no small part down to its search engines; Google in particular.
But how do the search engines work? How do they find what you’re looking for and how can businesses influence that? The answer to these questions is with search engine optimization (SEO) and if you’ve ever searched for something online (that’s all of us, right?) then you probably already know more about SEO than you think.
There are scores of professional search engine optimization companies who are skilled in manipulating websites in order to achieve preferential placement within the search engines, but if you own a business or a website then having a degree of basic SEO knowledge is highly recommended if you want to stand a chance against the 100 million other active websites in the digital world.
What factors affect search?
When a user types something into a search bar, there are hundreds of factors the search engine will take into account. It would be impossible to find out all these factors, and they are continuously being updated, which means there are hundreds of different ways a site can be optimized.
Here are just a few ways in which a site can be optimized:
If your business operates locally then your SEO efforts should be concentrated on making sure your site ranks well in local listings, giving it the best chance of appearing near (or at) the top when a user living in your local area searches for a product in your niche.
There are a variety of ways to do this, like making sure your business is listed with Google Place Pages.
The content you place within your site will have a massive effect on your ranking position. Google uses a ‘spider’ to crawl through the content on your page and pick out words relevant to a search; it should go without saying that the words within your pages should be relevant to the product or service you sell.
Make sure your web content is relevant, useful, engaging and good quality. It shouldn’t be stuffed with ‘keywords’ to make it rank higher, Google is smart enough to pick out semantically relevant words and phrases instead and will actually penalize you for overuse of particular words anyway. Write for the reader, NOT for Google.
Back in the very early days of SEO, large quantities of links to other websites were very important for rankings. It didn’t matter whether or not the site that linked to you was relevant to your business or not; it was simply a case of the more the merrier!
Today’s SEO is very different, and quality of links is far more important than quantity. Getting other relevant sites of high authority to link to yours will help your rankings enormously.