Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about what you do with the content and coding of the actual site. It means making a website optimal for the web bots, the little bits of code that go around and ‘read’ the web to index what is there.
When there was one car repair service on the web, it was fairly easy for it to be found. The bots read ‘car repair’ on the website of our car repair place. When users searched for the keyword ‘car repair’, the bots directed web visitors to the one site.
Then there were 1000 car repair places and the job for bots got more difficult. Which car repair place would the bots put first? So, the site that said ‘car repair’ the most times got to the top. In those days, the bots listed by number of times the keywords showed up.
Bots had to be rewritten (think reprogrammed) because people started cheating in a number of ways. These cheating methods were called black hat methods. Black hatters would pepper the content with keywords to the extent that a human couldn’t even stand to read the content. Some nefarious programmers used keywords that didn’t even fit what the site was about in order to draw traffic. Often this started with pornographic sites trying to get unsuspecting people looking up something harmless. Keywords were hidden in white text on a white background. Google and other search engine companies got smart. They reprogrammed their bots to start checking for context and styling tricks and keyword density. They developed algorithms (programs) to weigh the likelihood that a site actually was about what it said it was.
Because the algorithms change all the time, good SEO companies need to constantly stay on top of what the search engines base ratings on. This is why a site can be #1 on a Google search one day and on the second page the next.
Search Engine Optimization Guidelines
Search Engine Optimization is the process of being sure that a site’s content and coding accurately reflect the true purpose of the site and the services of the company which it reflects. Of course, there are still guidelines to making it as attractive to the search engines as possible. It’s also important to use keywords for which people actually search.
SEO of a site includes:
- determining the keywords that reflect the company, its services and products
- deciding which keywords are best for which pages
- checking how frequently those keywords are searched, and changing them if necessary
- using them within the page title and page URL
- being sure they are used with the proper density in the content of the page
- assuring the content is easy enough to read and is written first for people, second for bots
- using the keyword in the image alt tags (if possible) and being sure that each image has an alt tag (alt tags are used by visually impaired individuals to read the web using site readers. If a site reader can read it, the bots can, too.)
- including the keywords in headings if applicable
- making the site load as quickly as possible by optimizing images, other media, and code, and caching the site
Search Engine Optimization does NOT get customers on the web. It may, or may not, affect your placement in a search. There are many other variables that can affect that. The important thing is that good SEO is the place to start. Even for Search Engine Marketing to work, a well optimized site is the starting point.
Adding blogs and videos to feed the bots
Many sites include blogs (whether they are called that or not. They can be called News, Information, etc.). The reason is that web bots like new content and the easiest way to add new information to the website is through a blog. The bots return to check out the new information to index it and it keeps your listings fresh. Blogging can be work, and time consuming, but its also a great way to inform and educate your customers/clients. It‘s important that blog posts are optimized too.
Search bots also like videos, so adding videos to your site also helps rankings, especially if the videos are on YouTube (the #2 Search Engine after Google).
Once a website is optimized, it rarely needs to be done again, So, once you’ve paid for that part, you are done. Of course, if you are adding new content or blogging, you (or your web designer or content provider) will need to optimize that new content as you go.
In the next post, I will explain Search Engine Marketing and how that is different from SEO.
View the rest of the series:
SEO, SEM, SMM and your great website