Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. (wikipedia)
So you have a website. Great! Now your customers can find you online. But they may need a little help. Getting onto Google is not as easy as just creating a website, you need SEO.
How Does A Search Engine Work?
Search engines like Google and Yahoo have complex algorithms that determine SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position). It’s important to remember that the primary function of search engines is to provide the searcher with the right content. If you search on Google for “Red High Heels Online Canada”, Google will try to find you the website that is most likely to have Red High Heels Online in Canada. Take a look at the picture below, you can see the words “Red High Heels Online” are in bold. This shows that Google found those words on the site, and it’s helping to show you that the website actually has “Red High Heels Online”.
But how does Google determine what website is most likely to have what you are looking for? Google sends out little robots to “crawl” your site. They analyze your website’s content and code to determine what your website is all about. Mostly, they are looking for words. Once they figure out what your site is about based on the words they find, they crawl back to Google and report in. So the next time somebody searches, Google knows which sites to churn out.
But what if 1000 sites have the words, “red high heels” on them? How does Google determine who comes first? While the inner workings of Google and it’s very complicated algorithms are not shared with the public, there are some things we know.
Here are some of the things Google takes into account when ranking websites:
We’ll explain what each of these are in a minute. For now, back to the main question, “What is SEO?”.
What is SEO?
So now that you know how Google determines it’s search results, how do you influence to get your website to the top? With SEO. Search Engine Optimization can help shape your site so that when the Google bots come crawling, they find that your site has all of the factors we mentioned above. So let’s go over what those factors are.
Keywords: Keywords are words that are strategically placed around your site for both users and search engines. A keyword example is, “Red High Heels”. If you sell red high heels, you want to make sure that keyword is placed on your site so that users and Google knows that you sell them. You can include keywords in the copy of your site as well as in the code. We’ll explain more about using keywords in code in a future blog post.
Back Links: Back links are links that send users to your website. For example, if you have a friend who has a website that sells dresses, they may post a link on their page that links to your website. These back links are like votes of confidence to Google. They tell Google, “Hey, this website is great so we’re going to send our own customers over there”. It’s another component of convincing Google that your website is good quality.
Website Age: A lot of new websites are created every day, and a lot of them never make it far. Business names change, people get bored: for whatever reason, some sites just don’t last very long. Google wants to make sure you mean business, so it will often take some time before Google takes you seriously. The great thing about this component is you don’t have to do any work! Just be patient (I know, it’s hard), and soon Google will believe you’re here to stay.
Updates: Remember the Google bots who crawl your site? They don’t just crawl it once. They come back to check out if you’ve put anything new out. So despite age being a benefit, inactivity isn’t. Google doesn’t want to serve up a website that is 10 years old and hasn’t changed. They want to serve new and relevant websites. So uploading new content to your website tells Google you’re working hard to provide relevant content for your visitors. A great way to provide frequent new content is through business blogging.
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