It probably isn’t news repeating how digital transformation is making almost everyone to leverage on the internet either to create awareness, sell their art, look for opportunities and more. The most useful platform in use is the World Wide Web which host websites or blogs. Millions of articles get published on the internet every day; WordPress alone publishes about 2 million articles each day, not to mention a host of other web-based frameworks.
Now with these millions of articles that get published on an hourly basis, how do you get a chance for searchers to fall on your content when they search? Most businesses generally use either paid advertisement or organic search to get people to fall on their content. While paid advertisement demands lots of money to routinely be visible, organic search uses a technique called search engine optimization (SEO) to give your content visibility. In this article we are going to explore this concept under the following guidelines:
- What is SEO?
- How do Search Engines work?
- How does SEO work?
- SEO strategies
- Search engine optimization techniques
- Factors that influence search engine ranking
- SEO tools
What is Search engine optimization?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the practice of increasing traffic or visitors to your website through organic search results thereby making your website to rank higher on the search engine. Organic results here mean non-paid results, ideally, they should be both quantitative and qualitative – this is because since the search engine uses keywords in the website’s content to rank web pages, keywords should be selected in a way that the search engine will differentiate a seller of Apple phones from that of apple fruits.
How Search Engines (Google, Bing) work?
Search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, etc. are digital libraries, so instead they don’t store content as books but as web pages. Whenever we type a search query on our browser, the search engine uses a process called crawling to search for information it indexed in its library related to the search query. Google for example uses an algorithm to decide which content to display on the browser. The algorithm uses many factors to decide which web pages to pull up. Some of these factors include the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, web page structure, links(backlinks), the freshness of the content, your location and settings.
How SEO works?
All search engines have the same goal; which is to put the most relevant content on its first pages. So in doing SEO you have to demonstrate or prove your content is the best as far as that topic is concerned. So you have an obligation to satisfy the search engine’s algorithm which is always changing. Good SEO actually takes two things into consideration: the search engine algorithm (non-human) and the users (human) – this means you must reason like the search engine’s algorithm and also like humans reason when they do searches online.
1. Black hat optimization
This is like the get rich fast type of scheme where the content is optimized to satisfy only the search engine and not searchers. Here experts bend the rules to meet up with the needs of the search engine. This type of SEO is good projects with short vision because the approach will eventually result in spammy, crappy pages that often get banned very fast.
2. White hat optimization
This is used for sustainable web projects hence attention is also given to users by creating matching stand out content to match users search query. So SEO experts here make sure they stand by the search engine rules while still delivering the best content for humans.
There also exists grey hat SEO which is an intermediate of the above two types.
SEO strategies for Google
In the past, search engines used to rely on keywords to rank websites. But with their ever-evolving algorithm, it now goes beyond mere keywords. Actually, the search engine crawls through the different web pages on the website not just on a website as a whole, so different keywords representing different pages can represent the same website. Before setting a good SEO strategy there are certain things to consider;
- Use of keywords or phrases related to a website's purpose. For the search engine will search and bring out its related content when a query is made.
- Constant updates and publications on the website together with mending broken links which bring down ranking
Search Engine Optimization Techniques
Optimizing a website demands a proper understanding of how the search engine works keeping in mind that it is not a human but a robot. Below are some techniques to give your website a spot on the first page of search engines.
- Keyword Research: this is always a crucial point for your SEO strategy. It entails looking for keywords that best describe your content and that other websites are ranking for check what keywords your competitors ranking for and other related keywords potential customers are searching for. This will help create content that will give you edge-cutting visibility.
- Content Marketing: with keywords in place, the creation and continuous updating of new content is what search engines promote to keep building that database with.
- Off-Page Optimization and Link Building: SEO links are generally of two kinds; internal links will help expose and index other pages on the website. Backlinks are links from other websites are also very essential for all search engines for interconnectivity of related content. Interacting with other webmasters to let them link your website or using web directories which send links to your website gives you credibility.
- On-Page Optimization: On-page SEO refers to the practices or factors that are linked to the website’s content and the technical configurations that search engines will consider to rank the website while working on aspects that concern the entire website, some useful aspects that are important for the optimization of a single web page include: matching the URL of the page to the keywords, updating the title tag of the page to match relevant search queries, and using the alt attribute to describe images and updating a page's meta tags (such as the meta description tag) all these can increase click-through rate from the SERPs
- Site Architecture Optimization: Giving appropriate group tags to your content gives it good semantics and architecture. Creation of XML sitemaps will enable the search engine to crawl through the content of large pages.
Factors that influence search engine ranking
- Crawlability: Crawling is the main way through which search engines discover the content of your website. Google follows all the links in your website to have knowledge of the content of other pages. For example, it will use internal links to discover other pages of your website, backlinks to discover related content on other sites. This helps in indexing web pages.
- Mobile-friendliness: studies say about 63% of people access the internet via mobile phones so a user may likely press the back button once it’s incompatible for mobile devices. So Google has also shifted to mobile-first indexing too.
- Page speed: this is how fast a page loads on desktop and mobile devices for Google intends to keep its customers satisfied.
- Backlinks: other websites linking your website are considered votes which increase your credibility.
- Authority: backlinks from highly ranked pages
- Content quality: this falls under the readability of your website’s content. It involves using concise sentences, easy to understand vocabulary, linking words to separate ideas, short paragraphs. This helps retain readers more
These are most commonly paid and free tools used in SEO to do keyword research like search volume, backlinks, search difficulty, CPC and more. Some popular tools are listed below:
- Google Ads Keyword Planner
- AHREFs and Majestic
- SEO Platforms like Moz, BrightEdge & Searchmetrics
- Google Search Console
- Backlink Analysis Tools
Having an online presence is important but the importance of SEO cannot be overemphasized, considering the tons of articles published online every minute. Creating a good SEO strategy for your web content will make sure you stand out from the trillions of articles online and probably from the millions ranking for the same keyword. A properly optimized website serves you spending money on paid adverts and keeps you visible to billions of people for a long time as long as you maintain consistency on your content.