What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

To make web pages more compliant with search engine algorithms, there are few techniques collectively known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Simply put, SEO is the process or practice that increases the visibility of a web page or website in the organic results to generate traffic from search engines.

While search engines aim to ensure that the website that whereone visitor lands up on is relevant to their his/her needs and satisfies their search, SEO aims to make sure that the content is made for the target customer and meets their purpose which in turn will give them a higher ranking on the search engine.

Unless a particular web address is immensely popular where the user directly types the website URL, most traffic to a site comes via the search engine. This is called ‘Direct Traffic’. The search engine usually is the first step for any user, and thus it serves as the primary navigator. Even for big brands, most traffic comes through search engines. Hence, for websites, search engines become a marketing tool, and SEO is nothing but a marketing strategy to increase the inbound traffic generated by search engines into their sites.

There is one more thing to note here; people who are searching for information related to the product or service that the site offers are already interested customers. Hence, this gives the site access to a ready-made market base. With SEO, all that needs to be done is to make sure that these people are directed to their page so that they can buy into their product or service. By correctly optimising the site, it will be ensured that interested customers will be brought to the site and hence the chances of converting them to sales will be much higher.

Since search engines are run by an algorithm, it cannot understand the content of a website as a human being would interpret it. So search engines rely on the popularity of the sites. The more popular a site, the more relevant it is deemed to be by the search engines. This strategy works to a great extent. On the other hand, the words typed in for queries by the user carry extra ordinary value. It is these words that are then used to generate the results. Hence, it is important to know what keywords the target customer will use to look for the product the site is offering and using those keywords to generate traffic into the site. One major part of SEO is to identify and use the correct keyword. We will discuss in detail what other factors SEO comprises further into the course.

The internet is fiercely competitive as big and small brands fight for visibility. With good SEO, it is easier to achieve the exposure. However, in a bid to be at the top of the game, many sites often use unethical means – black hats. Black hats often aim at the search engines and not at the human customers. Using keywords unnecessarily or using invisible texts to be picked by search engines refer to black hat. However, search engines have evolved fast and can identify such unethical means. Google penalizes sites for using black hat techniques by dropping them in the search results. The key to good SEO is to aim to be useful to the target audience. If your content is relevant to the product, you are offering and in turn, addresses the user’s needs the first step towards SEO is taken. We will discuss in detail the steps that need to be taken to ensure how effective SEO translates your effort and efficiency into more and more people visiting your site to check out your product.

Search Engine Rankings – Google

As was discussed above search engines such as Google uses a sophisticated algorithm to determine the relevance of a web page and rank it accordingly. Google is known to use more than 200 parameters to determine the ranks. Though Google does not disclose the parameters used to judge the relevance of a web page; with study, experience and experiment there is a fair idea how your website can be optimized for search engines – something we will discuss in more details later.

The algorithm is run real time, and it is constantly evaluating the content of the websites against their 200+ criterion to keep the ranking updated. Hence, the rankings are very fluid.  A given website is in competition with other websites for the same search. Google compares these websites against their parameters to rank them. A website can be on the fifth page of search results today. By restructuring the content to meet the needs of the users, by creating good backlinks, etc while the other websites do not make any changes, the website can rise to the front pages of the search result in a matter of a day. The changes made to a website and how it compares in Google’s algorithm will determine how much the site will rise in search results.

Factors Affecting SEO

As discussed above, the list of all the factors used in the algorithm is not something that is disclosed. With such a huge number of factors used by Google, it is hard to identify all. The thing to remember here is that not all factors are equally important. Also, not all factors are relevant to every business. It makes identifying the factors seem even more challenging. However, after research and experiment, SEO consultants have come up with a series of standard key factors that boost the SEO of a website in general. The most important of these factors are listed below.

  • Usage of Keywords – The users type in words or combination of words to initiate a search. This then gets looked up on the web by search engines. Having the keyword in the title tag, description tag or H1 tag increases the chances of the web page being picked up by search engines. Having the keyword in the content of the page is also important. However, stuffing the content by uselessly using the keyword can now have adverse effects.
  • Content Quality – Having generic content with basic information is not sufficient to boost SEO. Google looks for authentic and informative content that can enrich the user experience. Moreover, with cut throat competition on the internet many sites provide information on the same subject. Hence, the usefulness of the site’s content compared to other such sites affects the ranking.
  • Duplicate content – If your website has several pages with the same content, Google can identify that and that has an adverse effect on their ranking. At times when duplicate content cannot be avoided, you can create a canonical tag which lets Google know that even though the URLs are different the content is the same. This will help the site avoid the adverse effect of having similar content in more than one page.
  • Site Structure – Having a site that is easily navigable helps increase the efficiency of the site and also provides better customer satisfaction. However, since Google uses algorithms to determine ranking, the best way to let Google know about your site structure is to provide the site map to them which lets them know what pages are included in your website.
  • In order to rank a site, Google looks for your website even beyond your own domain. Hence, having other domains linking to your site helps elevate your ranking. Thing to remember here is that various domains linking to your site are ranked over a single domain linking to your site several times. It is also believed that if the topic of your page is relevant to the page linking you, it gives a better result than out of context backlinks.

SEO consultants agree that for your webpage to be deemed trustworthy, one factor considered by Google is the duration of its existence. Any domain that has existed over a year is considered more reliable than its newer counterparts. The history of the domain also matters. If your site has been penalized for some reason, it is taken into consideration while ranking your site. If a particular site aims to target a local market, it helps to have a county specific TLD such as .in, .co, .uk, etc. It helps Google identify your target customer and give you a better ranking for the searches generated from that region. Why Search Engine Optimization?

There is one more thing to note here; people who are searching for information related to the product or service that the site offers are already interested customers. Hence, this gives the site access to a ready-made market base. With SEO, all that needs to be done is to make sure that these people are directed to their page so that they can buy into their product or service. By correctly optimising the site, it will be ensured that interested customers will be brought to the site and hence the chances of converting them to sales will be much higher.

Since search engines are run by an algorithm, it cannot understand the content of a website as a human being would interpret it. So search engines rely on the popularity of the sites. The more popular a site, the more relevant it is deemed to be by the search engines. This strategy works to a great extent. On the other hand, the words typed in for queries by the user carry extra ordinary value. It is these words that are then used to generate the results. Hence, it is important to know what keywords the target customer will use to look for the product the site is offering and using those keywords to generate traffic into the site. One major part of SEO is to identify and use the correct keyword. We will discuss in detail what other factors SEO comprises further into the course.

The internet is fiercely competitive as big and small brands fight for visibility. With good SEO, it is easier to achieve the exposure. However, in a bid to be at the top of the game, many sites often use unethical means – black hats. Black hats often aim at the search engines and not at the human customers. Using keywords unnecessarily or using invisible texts to be picked by search engines refer to black hat. However, search engines have evolved fast and can identify such unethical means. Google penalizes sites for using black hat techniques by dropping them in the search results. The key to good SEO is to aim to be useful to the target audience. If your content is relevant to the product, you are offering and in turn, addresses the user’s needs the first step towards SEO is taken. We will discuss in details the steps needs to be taken to ensure how effective SEO translates your effort and efficiency into more and more people visiting your site to check out your product.

What are the factors affecting SEO?

As discussed above, the list of all the factors used in the algorithm is not something that is disclosed. With such a huge number of factors used by Google, it is hard to identify all. The thing to remember here is that not all factors are equally important. Also, not all factors are relevant to every business. It makes identifying the factors seem even more challenging. However, after research and experiment, SEO consultants have come up with a series of standard key factors that boost the SEO of a website in general. The most important of these factors are listed below.

  • Usage of Keywords – The users type in words or combination of words to initiate a search. This then gets looked up on the web by search engines. Having the keyword in the title tag, description tag or H1 tag increases the chances of the web page being picked up by search engines. Having the keyword in the content of the page is also important. However, stuffing the content by uselessly using the keyword can now have adverse effects.
  • Content Quality – Having generic content with basic information is not sufficient to boost SEO. Google looks for authentic and informative content that can enrich the user experience. Moreover, with cut throat competition on the internet many sites provide information on the same subject. Hence, the usefulness of the site’s content compared to other such sites affects the ranking.
  • Duplicate content – If your website has several pages with the same content, Google can identify that and that has an adverse effect on their ranking. At times when duplicate content cannot be avoided, you can create a canonical tag which lets Google know that even though the URLs are different the content is the same. This will help the site avoid the adverse effect of having similar content in more than one page.
  • Site Structure – Having a site that is easily navigable helps increase the efficiency of the site and also provides better customer satisfaction. However, since Google uses algorithms to determine ranking, the best way to let Google know about your site structure is to provide the site map to them which lets them know what pages are included in your website.
  • In order to rank a site, Google looks for your website even beyond your own domain. Hence, having other domains linking to your site helps elevate your ranking. Thing to remember here is that various domains linking to your site are ranked over a single domain linking to your site several times. It is also believed that if the topic of your page is relevant to the page linking you, it gives a better result than out of context backlinks.
  • SEO consultants agree that for your webpage to be deemed trustworthy, one factor considered by Google is the duration of its existence. Any domain that has existed over a year is considered more reliable than its newer counterparts. The history of the domain also matters. If your site has been penalized for some reason, it is taken into consideration while ranking your site. If a particular site aims to target a local market, it helps to have a county specific TLD such as .in, .co, .uk, etc. It helps Google identify your target customer and give you a better ranking for the searches generated from that region. 

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