The power of SEO is similar to that of the gravitational force. Just like Gravity pulls all matter towards earth, SEO attracts traffic towards websites. If the term ‘SEO’ is rather new for you, you must be wondering if it’s really something you should invest in. You might be thinking it’s just another of those online scams trying to get money out of you. To be honest, every website needs search engine optimization, as long as they want more people to visit.
What exactly is SEO and how does it work?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing traffic to your website via organic search engine results. It is basically an online marketing strategy that helps people discover your products or content. Whenever you’re looking for an answer, the first thing that crosses your mind is to look it up. Apparently you’ll go to ‘Google’, ‘Yahoo’, or ‘Bing’ which are the biggest search engines used worldwide.
So you type in a word, question or sentence, and within a few seconds you’re directed towards a list of web pages providing relevant information. Search engines are answer machines that have crawlers searching for data all over the internet (like spiders on a web). The crawlers create indexes that are fed through an algorithm to match info with your query. Among billions of websites, the most useful ones are collected. The items of this collection are then ranked by popularity and listed accordingly.
The Ranking System of SEO
Search engines use a complex mathematical formula to score websites. The scores mainly depend on the quality of your content, the number of links to your website and the amount of individuals that trust you. There are several other complicated factors as well, but the ones mentioned will do for the major part. The objective is to provide the best sources to public, and the algorithm has proved quite successful.
The higher the score, the better will be your position in the search engine result pages. Suppose you’ve searched for web development services on Google, what do you do next? At the top of the result page, commonly you’ll see ads, which are paid for. More than 80% of users skip the ads to get to the organic search results listed below. The organic search results on the first page are naturally the websites that the highest number of people are going to see.
Only few people go beyond page 2 or 3 (under extremely desperate circumstances). Thus, your goal is to get your website to the first page or the first spot in organic search results if you’re an overachiever. Without SEO, you’ll never appear in search engine results and then how will public find you? Sure, there are other platforms like social media for advertising your brand, but those are not equally effective.
Dos and Don’ts to achieving a SEO friendly website
First of all, flood your website with engaging and unique content. All your content should be in HTML text format because other types are generally ignored or devalued. All your web pages must have a crawlable link structure so that they do not hinder search engines from accessing your content in any way. Smart search engines will instantly recognize copied or duplicated content, so don’t bother trying to fool them.
SEO operates around keywords; keywords are words or phrases that people typically use for searching about different topics/subjects. For example, if you sell clothes, do your research regarding what are people looking for. Frequent terms might include ‘cheap dresses’, ‘faded jeans’, ‘cotton shirts’ etc.
Remember to provide authentic content; avoid click baits at all costs. Many people use misleading information to attract website traffic which initially does the trick, but brings failure in the long term. If users don’t trust your site and leave bad reviews/ratings, search engines will ultimately exclude you from their lists. Therefore, if you say you’re selling lactose free ice cream, make sure it’s not just popsicles!
One mistake that websites commonly make is called “keyword stuffing”. It is believed that higher the keyword density in your content, the stronger will be your case against SEO. Fortunately, this is a myth; if you overload your web pages with keywords, it is only going to look unnatural and will be considered as spam. As mentioned above, quality of your content matters, so use your keywords as creatively or wisely as possible. The standard keyword density is usually 1% of your content. Everyone hates spammers by the way; not just people, but also all the smart search engines which see right through it.
Another famous yet costly SEO conspiracy theory is called PPC (pay per click) strategy. Organizations pay users or some professional party to click on their ads. Although it may seem like a legit way to increase website visitors and score in the SEO section, the proof of this actually working is scarce, if not non-existent.
Creating links to your website is a great way for increasing your SEO status, nonetheless doing it in a manipulative way may be identified as fraud by the smarter engines. Many agencies create multiple links on their website that go back and forth between their own pages. Also, irrelevant link posting can be seen all over the web which is mostly paid for. This is one of those practices that are rarely caught, though that doesn’t make it any less annoying. What you can do is partner with trusted sites and ask them to provide backlinks to your page. Easier options are creating guest blogs, posting in forums that are discussing subjects connected to your content, and using social media platforms like Twitter, and Facebook.
SEO is a tricky game and cannot be won in a day. Just because you’ve followed all the rules and keenly played your part, you won’t obtain instant SEO King status. The process may take months and all you can do is be patient while you continue to comply with the guidelines.
Besides, if you’ve succeeded in attaining a top ranking with one or more search engines, accept the fact that it will not be everlasting. Fluctuations occur on a daily basis and you’ll find yourself in a constant battle with your competitors; a tiny bit like ‘The Game of Thrones’! Despite all, dramatic downfall in rankings can be suspicious. If such a situation comes your way, it’s best to check whether you’ve somehow violated a rule.