Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization or SEO refers to Optimizing a Website for effective indexing by search engine spiders or crawlers.

SEO and the effective implementation thereof is what determines how “high” a site will “rank” in search results. In other words if someone searches for a product or service that you provide, how high will you rank in the search results.

SEO also helps to determine how relevant the content is to a certain search query or keyword. It ensures that a page in the search results does actually contain the information relevant to the search query.

Why is search engine optimization important?

It is a well known fact that people only screen the first two or three pages of their Google search results. The lower your site ranks in these search results the less likely it is that they will visit your website.

Due to the nature of websites and the domain in which they “live” the “location” or rank of your website among competitors is probably has the biggest influence on how many visits you get per day.

It means absolutely diddly-squat if you have the easiest site to navigate with the best best Call-to-actions known to man if you have nobody ever seeing them or prompted to click on them.

How do we Optimize our websites for search engine indexing?

We apply search engine optimization factors in two basic categories – “earned” or generic SEO and paid SEO.

“Earned” or generic SEO is search engine optimization that is accomplished by designing a website in such a manner that it conforms to the algorithms of search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. When applied correctly this will cause a websites grading being greatly improved in search engine index gradings.

“Paid” SEO practices is the application of search engine ad campaigns. Such ad campaigns result in an ad being shown by the search engine when a user searches a certain keyword or phrase in their search bar.

On site search engine optimization

On-site SEO (also known as on-page SEO) is the practice of optimizing elements on a website (as opposed to links elsewhere on the Internet and other external signals collectively known as “off-site SEO“) in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic from search engines. On-site SEO refers to optimizing both the content and HTML source code of a page – here are a few key points

  • Sitemaps
  • Keywords
  • Images search results
  • Video search results
  • Academic search results
  • Responsive design – mobile search
Site Map
Site map image
Basic illustration of a site map

A sitemap lists the website’s pages that are accessible to users and can be indexed by search engine crawlers like the googlebot. This list is defined by the Webmaster in the robots.txt file. It is usually structured in the same hierarchical fashion that the website is structured.

Mapping your site gives search engines the exact structure of your site and it can therefore be indexed accordingly.

Metadata is used in the description of each of the pages on your site and this metadata, when written with keywords in mind will have a very positive influence on your website’s search results.

Keywords

SEO keywords are keywords or phrases that the webmaster defines. These keywords or phrases form the basis of your copywriting. It ensures that your content reflects the search queries of visitors.

How do we determine which keywords to use? Besides the obvious like the name of your brand, product or it’s category and description we can also use keyword research tools like Google Ad words.

Different Keyword Levels

  • Top level keywords
  • Mid level keywords
  • and meta keywords
Top Level Keywords

We use top level keywords in the domain name, website title and web page titles.  A common guideline I prefer to use is: <h1> site titles, <h2> page titles, my <h3> article headings. Within my articles I use <h4> to <h6> level tags as sub headings within the content of my articles.

It is SEO best practise to use your keywords in these headings as it helps search engines to index your website to a deeper level than just the site map that you laid out in XML.

Mid Level Keywords

We use mid-level keywords in the body text of articles.

Meta Keywords

Meta Keywords is the meta data that is used within tags to describe something, for example an image would be inserted into an article with and <img> tag. Within this image tag we would define a meta description of the image. This meta description is duel purpose.

Search engines display meta-data in the search results. This further improves your website’s SEO because it also indexes this information.

Images and video search engine optimization

Optimizing images or videos for search engine results refers to the meta-data that the webmaster includes with the images. The meta description tag helps people who are visually impaired. The screen reader will read that that element is an image, but unless we define in the meta description what that image is, the visitor would not know what it is. So, we would do this <img src=”url of image” alt=”alternate name” description=”this text would describe the image”>.

Academic search engine optimization

This includes the techniques webmasters use to optimize the readability of their content. In this context we consider factors like the length of sentences, structure and tense.

Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. You can think of this like you would think of the cool kid in school, he always had lots of friends right? Lots of people who would confirm that he is really as cool as he or she thinks. The same rule of thumb applies to websites.

On this website there are quite a few examples of backlinks – especially to definitions of certain terms.

Backlinks from reliable websites confirm to search engines that your site is a reliable source of information.

Search engine optimization and responsive design

What is responsive design? Responsive design is designing a website in such a way that the website lay-out adapts to different screen sizes. You don’t want a potential client to leave your website just because the content and the website is difficult to navigate on a mobile device.

It is a fact that more and more people use mobile devices to surf the internet. Google ranks responsive websites higher in mobile search results.

Off site search engine optimization

“Off-site SEO” (also called “off-page SEO”) refers to actions taken outside of your own website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs).

Optimizing for off-site ranking factors involves improving search engine and user perception of a site’s popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority. This is accomplished by other reputable places on the Internet (pages, sites, people, etc.) linking to or promoting your website, and effectively “vouching” for the quality of your content.

Here are two easy to implement Off-site SEO “hacks”

Links

  • Internal links
  • Backlinks/external links
Internal links

Internal links refer to links that the author creates between relevant articles on the website. Quality is always more important than quantity and consequently it is crucial that links are especially relevant to one another.

External links

Visitors populate external links when they share your content. Research your subjects thoroughly. Well known websites will not link to your articles if the content is not of a very high standard.

Make it easy for visitors to share your content. Backlinks validate to search engines that your content does relate to the keywords or phrase.

Paid search engine optimization

  • Search engine ad campaign
  • Social media ad campaigns

There are a myriad of search engine based ad campaigns and I will discuss more of these in depth in future articles…