SEO 101

seo 101

Wikipedia states ‘Search engine optimization’ (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural,” or un-paid search results’. What this basically means is that SEO is a way for websites to attract more traffic for listings on search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing without payment. These Search engines look for websites that are functional, spam free and have content most relevant to the search word.

As SEO is very important for companies that advertise through the web, most hire consultants who employ a number of techniques to optimize websites for their clients. There are several main things good SEO consultants consider when optimizing a website for search engine hits:

Search engine ranking factors:
All factors work in combination, no single factor can alone improve a websites ranking.

1. On page factors:
These can be controlled completely by the publisher (or SEO consultant), They include:

• Content on page

Quality:
Page content needs to engage an audience and explain to them immediately why you website is worth their notice, as content is really the only real ‘advertizing factor’ on the page its quality and style reflects directly on the service or product the web page promotes.

Also is your content needs to be engaging to prevent readers from bouncing (quickly returning) back to the results to try something else.  Time spent on site is  something that search engines can measure, through toolbar that both Google and Bing offer. The amount of time users spend on a site may affect its ranking.

Research:
Content research is important to sound capable and up-to-date, if the research is faulty and the facts are wrong, websites lose credibility immediately. Also when writing content for a page, it is important to do your research on keywords often use to look up the service you’re writing about and incorporate them into your content to increase website ratings. A good idea is to repeat each word you want to be found for, at least five times or seek out a keyword density of 2.45%, for best results.

Keep your information up to date and engage new and popular themes where required. Google has something called “Query Deserved Freshness”. This means that if there’s a search that’s suddenly getting unusually popular versus its normal activity, Google will check there’s any fresh content on that topic and give it a boost toward the top results. If a website’s content is well written on the ‘fresh’ topic when QDF checks, it may enjoy being in the top results for a week or two or three.

• Important HTML tags

HTML Title Tag:
HTML titles are the most important HTML signal that search engines use to understand what a page is about. Undescriptive or poorly worded titles on your web pages are likely to not be picked up by search engines. Forming descriptive, concise titles which include relevant keywords (from your keyword research) will attract more traffic to your page.

The Meta Description Tag:
The meta description tag allows you to control how you’d like your pages to be described in search listings. An engaging description will increase the number of users that view a website, and help improve the website’s ranking.

Header Tags:
Header tags are a way to classify important sections of a web page. Search engines make use of them as a hint as to what a page is about. If often searched words that are relevant to your topic are in header tags, you might have a slightly increased chance of appearing in searches for those words.

• Site Structuring

Site Crawlability:

genetechblog_seo_02

What’s crawling?
Suppose each circle is a website, and an arrow is a link from one website to another, such that a user can click on a link within, say, website F to go to website B, but not vice versa. Search engines begin by assuming that each website has an equal chance of being chosen by a user. Next, crawlers examine which websites link to which other websites and guess that websites with more incoming links contain valuable information that users want.

Now as most websites are linked to ‘B’, search engines conclude that ‘B’ is important and rank it high. Also as ‘B’ is popular and it has and outbound link to C, C also ranks high. Site crawlability can also be counted as an off page factor, as the publisher’s influence in this regard is limited.

Speed:
Faster sites make web surfing a happier place for all users, this is why some search engines rank such sites higher than slower ones. It is a minor factor, but all who use the site will appreciate it, so it also contributes to a website’s customer service.

2. Off page factors:
These include factors a publisher cannot directly control. They reason search engines use these are because factors that can be influenced by the publisher to make his website more popular may not always relay the most relevant information, (as a publisher is biased to his own website).
These factors include:

• Link Building

Link Quality:
Although search engines count the number of links pointing to a website they don’t count them all equally. They give more weightage to the in bound links that are considered to be of better quality (from trusted or popular websites). So the the reputation of the website that links to yours affects your own website’s ranking.

Link Text:
The link text or “anchor text” is the text that is made into a link to your website. This text is seen by search engines as a way that one web site is describing another, and it becomes linked to your website.

• Social Aspect

Social Reputation:
Do people like what you do? Do you have a following? A facebook page perhaps? Search engines care about a websites social standing. A well socially established website signifies that people trust it and recommend it to others, and as users are the strictest critics, anything they approve of the search engines promote.

• Personalization

Country:
If a website is country specific it will not show up on another country’s search result due to country personalization.  If a publisher believes his website should be relevant, then he’ll probably have to work on his international SEO (though good rankings are still not guaranteed).

History:
The sort of sites that a certain user visits often or shares are the sites search engines like google or bing will most likely show them for appropriate searches.This is a way to influence ranking for specific users using their own personal history. Unlike with country personalization, there’s no easy way to try and make a website relevant to them.

Viulation:
Although search engines want publishers to perform SEO, using methods that are considered black hat (attempts to improve rankings in deceitful and search engine disapproved ways). Such attempts include using invisible text (may be written in the same color as the background text), cloaking (showing different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine) and using paid links. Using such means may result in a page getting a ranking a penalty or being banned for a search engine. All publishers and SEO consultants are advised to steer clear of methods such as keyword stuffing (repeating keywords far too many times) or using shallow content.

SEO is a vast undertaking but with huge benefits. It is an advertising agenda online and is taken just as seriously by all retailers who understand how crucial e-marketing is in this day and age.

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Uroosa Rajani

is a professional blogger for Genetech Solutions, an offshore IT Consulting Firm in Pakistan serving clients with effective Web Development Solutions, Social Media, iPhone and Database Application Development. Follow her on Twitter @UroosaRajani110.

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