If you have run a website or produced online content you probably should have heard about SEO by now. SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s very important nowadays. SEO entails bringing a website to an optimal state that enables it to be favourably returned in search engines searches. The crux is for your website to appear in the foremost returned results in any search engine search regarding your content. Taking a close look, you realize that SEO is function of an overlap between how a website is built and the content it has. You might notice that I’ll mention ‘website’ a lot but that’ll actually be implicit of the content also. I’ll do my best to explain in non-technical terms.
THE INNER-WORKINGS OF SEARCH ENGINES
Google, for instance, basically has billions of web pages on its platform & they are indexed in a certain way. Thus, when someone keys in a search word, phrase or statement, Google runs it against those indexed pages. What it does is it will return what it deems to be the most appropriate results given the search string that would have been entered. The platform essentially has an algorithm that processes all search data to achieve this.
What’s Looked At In Choosing What To Return
There are three broad things Google (and any other search engine) looks at. They are:
Relevance is simply the act or state of relating to the matter at hand. Suppose you key in a search phrase like “current population of Zimbabwe”, the search engine will return results that are relevant to that phrase. This means a website’s likelihood of being returned in that search is tied in to it relating to the subject matter.
Authority denotes having certain attributes in very high proportions. In this case it refers to when a website has many appendages to it (links) – they can be inbound or outbound. What this means is that a website is considered authoritative if it has many people interacting with it. The higher the interactions, the higher the likelihood of being ranked high in searches.
Bear in mind that when anyone does a Google search, they want to get information on something. It’s important that the information be retrievable in a structured, simple and easy to understand manner. So the search engine looks at certain aspects that qualify a web page to be deemed useful in those regards.
WHY THEN IS SEO IMPORTANT?
The major source of traffic for any website is search engines. Whenever someone contemplates searching for something on the internet, the preferred choice is Google. Google far eclipses other platforms; Facebook (the second choice) trails at less 10% of all internet searches whilst Google boasts of a share of more than 60%. With that I’ve showed you why your site ought to have SEO; otherwise you’ll find it difficult to be visible on the internet.
HOW TO ACHIEVE SEO (The Basics)
This is a very broad field; however, I’ll just discuss some key things.
This is with regards to titles, subtitles or phrases that you incorporate on your website and the content on it. You’ve got to research on this i.e. find out what people commonly key in when searching for information related to your brand. You can find out from customers, study your competitors or find out on the internet. The idea is to then ensure your titles or subtitles are in sync with commonly used key words. You also endeavour to strategically throw in key words or phrases in the body of your content. This will enable your website to rank higher in searches on search engines.
Make it easy for aspects of likeability & share-ability to be there on your site. The trick is to have outbound links to other popular & related sites whilst offering the ability for users to like, comment & share your content to other popular sites (outbound links). I earlier on mentioned about authoritativeness – that is how you attain or increase it.
Search engine algorithms generally favour content that is on average 2500 words long. It’s basically easier for an algorithm to quickly skim through a reasonably sized chunk of data as opposed to a long one – remember search results are returned in fractions of a second. The idea also is minimising the bounce rate (i.e. the incidence of people prematurely leaving a site). The shorter the content, the lower the bounce rate & the longer people will stay on the site. This ultimately contributes positively to your site’s ranking.
Make your site look authentic – this obviously lures traffic. The layout and structure must look professional and orderly. It has also been noted that pages with comprehensive contacts details rank higher in search engine searches. Breaking down content, for instance, on blog sites into titled paragraphs also boosts authenticity and that enhances SEO.
There are a lot of things to cover in pursuing to have SEO. Working on SEO is something I believe should be done iteratively i.e. you try out certain aspects, see how they work and try out some more aspects & repeatedly do that. There is a lot of information out there on SEO but it’s wiser that you don’t overly apply everything. Some achieve SEO by making minor changes at zero cost; some have to hire experts or purchase specialized software or apps to achieve it. It’s expedient to use your discretion and objectively see what works best for you – after all, the results will speak for themselves. Don’t forget to work with Google Analytics; they are central to SEO.