Have you ever asked yourself what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about? Imagine that you have a well designed Website and great content but not enough traffic. Maybe people cannot find you in search engines. In that case you should definitely think about optimizing your site in a way which Google, Yahoo!, Bing & Co. understand easier. They crawl websites via incoming links of pages that are already indexed. Furthermore, they decide which pages are the best match for a search query and built a ranking, based on well concealed algorithms.
SEO is not the only way to increase the number of visitors to your website. Another form of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is paid online advertisement in social networks, search engines or other channels. Finally, SEO is not only the cheaper, but also more effective. Research shows that people are much tend to click much more on natural search results. What you want to do with SEO is simply a high Relevance for the search queries of your target group and Authority of your content. The following post focuses on how to achieve both without being a professional online marketer.
Basics of Search Engine Optimization
Search engines rank websites to offer the best possible search results for their users. Google calls its algorithm PageRank and the basic idea behind it is quite easy. The more links (or citations) a website has, the higher is its authority. The incoming links are again weighted according to their own authority. The goal is to get high quality sites to link to your content (Authority)! The other key point of making your sites ‘findable’, is to know your target group and understand their search query behavior. What you need is a keyword strategy (Relevance)!
Every search engine is able to understand keywords, your website structure, external links and the content of your page. Robots are scanning your website at regular intervals and looking for several aspects. Since these digital spiders see your website with different eyes than a human visitor, it is important to structure your Page in a certain way.
Optimizing your website for search engines includes several practices which are On-Page and Off-Page SEO. There are some simple instruments to promote your page and receive more visitors from organic (without paid advertisements) search results. Basically, we can break it down to the following aspects:
On the Page Optimization is the easier part of search engine marketing since it is completely under control of the operator of a website. You can choose yourself which content to publish, how to structure your website or blog and which information you want to provide for search engines. The most important on-page factors for search engines are the following:
Website Architecture (Relevance):
- Link Structure (understandable and logical)
- Meta Tags (page descriptions and titles)
- Alt Tags (make non-textual items readable)
- Keywords (target and integrate keywords in your website)
- Quality and Freshness (qualitative and regularly updated content)
Off the Page Optimization is more difficult since it cannot be directly controlled by the operator of a website. The good news is that there are still many ways to influence the off-page performance of your websites performance. Search engines care especially about factors that determine the relevancy of your content for search queries. Signals for a good search result are the quality and quantity of incoming links to a particular site, mentions in social media and popularity and authority of the website in general. Basically, look for the following off-page factors:
Inbound Links (Authority):
- Link Values and Attributes (quality of incoming links)
- Link Building Practices (engaging others to link to your content)
- Different Types of Links
- Social Networks (influence of social media for SEO)
- Content Promotion (spread your qualitative articles)