Most of us have heard of SEO and know that it’s important if you have a website, but few truly understand how SEO, or “search engine optimization” really works. Let’s de-mystify the elusive process of SEO.
The goal of SEO is to promote a website through the use of powerful search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. These search engines use algorithms to rank websites. Search engines use programs called “spiders” or “crawlers” that use links to connect all the relevant websites on the internet. The data is stored and designed to be recalled almost instantly.
When a search engine user types in a phrase, the top ranked websites appear first. The search engine returns websites deemed relevant and important. Currently, most search engines interpret importance by seeing which websites are the most popular.
According to SEOMoz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO, one factor that influences the ranking of a website in search results include the number of other websites linking to it. Other factors include having the proper tagging under the hood; this includes title tags, Meta tags, etc. These tags act as street signs and addresses for the search engines.
You should not overlook the importance of SEO. If people can’t find your website listed on the first three of pages of a Google search, they aren’t going to find your website and you will miss out on opportunities. Statistically, people will give up before going to the 4th page of a search.
These search engines are getting smarter every day, but don’t assume people can find your website easily. Luckily, there are things you can do to boost SEO.
Use words and phrases on your website that users would likely use if they search for your topic. Search engines also favor current and unique content, be sure to update your website on a regular basis. This explains why blogs can improve rank; blog often with unique content and you will organically improve your site’s rank.
You can download tools that help you monitor your own SEO. A program like this tracks your SEO data and gives you recommendations based on the data. The best example is Google Analytics which is free. Once installed on your site, Google Analytics can help you measure your site’s activity.
If that sounds intimidating, you can always hire a SEO consultant to do the work. Make sure you ask about their practices. Some SEO consultants may use “black hat” techniques that essentially cheat the system and break the rules set by search engines. If a search engine like Google detects that your website uses black hat techniques, you could be bounced off the search results entirely.
John Bradley Jackson
Entrepreneur, Professor, Author
Deja New Marketing
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