Search Engine Optimization

Understanding Search Engine Optimization – The Dummies Guide

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Many people often find the term search engine optimization(SEO) a very complex and confusing one. Every business owner or corporate understands the importance of having a website in today’s world. Websites are basically the face of the company on the online community. This is the office that your potential clients walk into online.

search engine optimization for dummiesTo ensure that you make sales, it is very important that your office is presentable. However, it is not just enough to have a state of the art office and you have no mechanism of driving potential clients to the office. This is where internet marketing and particularly, search engine optimization plays a major role. It helps in driving traffic to your website and possibly convert the traffic to buying customers.

Having a website on its own is not enough. Marketing the website is very important if you are targeting the online audience. Whatever it is that you are selling online, it is important that you use certain marketing strategies to ensure that you drive your traffic through the buying funnel.

Apart from SEO, there are a few other internet marketing strategies that are used. These include:

  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Online Advertising etc

Demonstration of Search Engine Optimization

In this digital era, whenever you want something, you will first go to the internet to find information about the particular ‘thing’. Because you have no idea where to get it, you will not go straight to your browser and type in an exact domain name. Mostly, you will use your favorite search engine.

Search engines are websites with databases of all other websites and the information these websites have. These sites usually help internet users to search for particular information that they need and then provide them with results according to relevance.

The most popular search engine across the world is Google with a market share of about 70%. Google is a very useful resource that has been used over the years to find information on various subjects. There are very many search engines across the world with some being famous in particular regions. Other search engines that are also popular include Bing, Yahoo Search and Ask.

When you are searching for information about something, you usually type a ‘search string’ in the search bar. The search engine will load a number of results for you. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why among one million results that are being displayed, one particular website is ranked number 1 while another is ranked 100?

You might think that Google or the search engine you are using is unfair, but this particular result is the one that is most relevant to your search. This is the result that is thought to have the particular information that you want.

In this competitive world, you will want to be with the most relevant information in your particular field. When you are ranked number one in Google or other search engines, you are most likely to enjoy the greatest amount of traffic to your site for that particular search string or what is technically known as the keyword.

When visitors land on your website, it is equally important that they find what they are looking for. It is important that you make you website easy to use and ensure that it loads fast. This ensures that you retain your visitors to your website and convert some into buying customers.

search-engines-and-how-they-work-for-seo

Alternatively you can also choose to pay to appear on the top results. When you ‘google’ something, there are top results that are usually highlighted. These top search results are paid results. However, research has shown that most users overlook the paid results and go for the organic search results.

How Search Engine Optimization Works

SEO works on different levels. It takes time to build relevance online especially for the fact that you competitors might have been on it for a couple of years. This must never dampen your spirit. You can put up a spirited fight online and outdo them in their own game.

Search engines like Google normally index all the websites. Indexing is simply the process of ‘reading’ the content that is on your website and classifying the content. Google bots crawl each and every website to find out what kind of content is in the website. They have particular algorithms that help determine the ranking of particular websites for particular keywords.

These algorithms change over time and at times affect the rankings of websites. Website rankings can either be affected negatively or positively. Over time people have learnt to cheat the search engine algorithms to get better search results. Changes in algorithms are meant to refine searches and give users a better result.

It is therefore important that as much as you want your content to be readable to your online visitors, it is also readable to the bots.

The best SEO strategies ensure that the two marry and your website enjoys a fair share of online traffic that comes from the search engine. It goes without saying that optimization provides your website with the best type of traffic you could ever wish for. This is mainly because traffic that is coming from search engines is normally very highly target. The visitors are usually interested in whatever you are providing and it is very likely that they will either make an enquiry or proceed to buy.

Step by Step Process of SEO

Below is a simple step by step SEO process that ensures that your website’s rankings are improved and hence you get traffic to your website.

1. Keyword Research

This is the first basic step that you need to take to know what relevant keywords or search strings that people are looking for. A great tool that is normally used is the Google AdWords that helps you to see which particular search strings have the most traffic. Over time we have seen the functionality of the Keyword Tool change but it still remains one of the best free tools you can use for your keyword research.

There are however other tools in the market that you can use for an even better keyword research and analysis.

There are a bunch of functions that you can do with AdWords but a particular tool called the keyword planner can help you identify your keywords. This can even be filtered according to location just in case you need visitors from a particular region.

It is not just enough to optimize your website for any keyword. Always ensure that you do a thorough analysis before committing to or investing in particular keywords.

2. On-Site SEO

This is optimization of the content that is in your website. It is important that this is carefully done and avoid overdoing elements. As much as having keywords in your content helps, overdoing this will kill your website as it will be viewed as stuffing. Keyword stuffing is an old strategy that is no longer used and search engines will quickly punish such efforts used will optimizing your website. Changes in search engine algorithms have ensured that website cannot use such rogue techniques to force better results for websites.

On-Site Search engine optimization includes changing of title tags, inserting meta tags and meta description on pages of the website. Using a CMS like wordPress or Joomla makes it very easy for you to do all this. You can use various plugins that help you fully optimize your website.

Other aspects that you need to check on include internal links, header tags, images names and their descriptions and alt tags as well.

3. Content Marketing Strategy

This is a cliche but still very true. As far as SEO is concerned, content is King. It is important that you website has content. The more content that you site has, the more likely that you will be able to retain visitors to your website. You can constantly put blog posts, news articles or How-To guides on your website that will help keep your visitors looking for more.

The content that you put on your website must be of good quality. Many times, people focus so much on search engine robots and forgetting that the online visitors are not robots. Visitors want content that they can read through easily and find information that they need.

4. Link Building

This is arguably the most important strategy when it comes to SEO. Link building basically means that you grow your website such that it is linked to as much relevant websites as possible. The battle for rankings on search engine is basically a popularity contest and therefore the more websites you are associated with, the more you are seen to be relevant in the particular field.

However, this is the place that most people would go wrong with SEO. As much as you are hungry for links, it is important that you do not get greedy for links. You might get greedy and want your website to rank the next day. This might be very costly in the long run.

Spamming is a strategy that is used by blackhats to increase the relevance of a website. Blackhat are SEO experts that use crude means to manipulate search engines in favour of their websites. Search engines are nowadays keen on spammers to ensure that they provide users with the best content therefore every now and then they change their algorithms to curb spamming and other blackhat strategies.

Blackhat is not usually the best option. This in most cases entails using spam content to give your website a number of links. Since you are generating a great number of links, the quality of the content you put up is usually very bad. Most of the content is machine generate and could be very gibberish.

However, whitehat is the way to go. This entails growing your website organically over time. In time you will find that your website greatly improves on various search engines. Whitehat is the best option and you are not at any risk. With blackhat, your website risks being banned by the search engines and you will never be found on results again.

5. Social Media

social media networking and seoThere are various social media platforms. The most popular social media platform is Facebook. Other social media networks include twitter, pinterest, myspace, tagged etc. However, when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, the most important social media network is Google Plus (bias 🙂 ).

Sharing your content on various social networks not only puts your website out there but also greatly helps to improve the rankings, especially with Google+. This also gives you free backlinks to your website.

Therefore it is important that you ensure that you have many likes on Facebook, a number of followers on twitter and also a good number of followers on your G+ page.

These are the basics of search engine optimization. Following these steps will ensure that your website improves over time and within a few months, you should be ranking for a number of keywords. Ranking is directly proportional to traffic.

When looking for SEO Experts, ensure that you do not go for someone who promises to rank your website after a week. Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing process and therefore it does not require that much speed in itself. A good SEO strategy should be carried out over a period of a few months to ensure quality in ranking.

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