What is SEO?
I have discussed Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which refers to techniques that help your website rank higher in organic search results, thus making your website more visible to people who are looking for your product or service via search engines.
SEO is really part of the broader topic of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), a term used to describe all marketing strategies for search. SEM entails both organic and paid search.
Here is the breakdown
- Paid Search – You can pay to list your website on a search engine so that your website shows up when someone types in a specific keyword or phrase.
- Organic Search – Both Organic and Paid listings both appear on the search engine, but they are displayed in different locations on the page.
Paid Links are the first 3 columns and the right hand side of site. Organic listing are in the center of the page and are depicted by the Red and Green side bars. The green being Organic and the red being Paid!
So, why is it important for your business‟ website to be listed on search engines? On Google alone, there are over 77 million business websites and there are over 694,000 searches conducted every second! Think about that! Every second that your website is not indexed on Google, you are potentially missing out on hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities for someone to visit your website, read your content, and potentially buy your product or service.
By practicing SEO basics, as well as more advanced techniques after those, can drastically improve your website‟s ability to rank in the search engines and get found by your potential customers. That is what we do at Gate One Marketing, we install application plug-ins in each Website we build to enable the optimization SEO. We also install Google Analytics to measure our progress.
What about paid search? Yes, you can pay to have your website listed on the search engines. However, running paid search campaigns can be quite costly if you don‟t know what you‟re doing. Not to mention, about 88% of search engine users never click on paid search ads anyway.
Because the sole purpose of a search engine is to provide you with relevant and useful information, it is in everyone‟s best interest (for the search engine, the searcher, and you) to ensure that your website is listed in the organic search listings. In fact, it is probably best to stay away from paid search all together until you feel you have a firm grasp on SEO and what it takes to rank organically. Gate One Marketing has taken advanced Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing courses that very few of our competitors have bothered to take, We know what works and we work to maximize your marketing dollars.
Google Replaces the Yellow Pages
Outbound marketing as we know it is dead. It used to be that a majority of a local company‟s marketing budget went to yellow pages, newspaper, and radio advertisements. In order for you to get any business, you had to put your offers and advertisements in your prospect‟s face. Well, not anymore. The age of the Internet has made it so that consumers are now in control and Gate One Marketing can maximize your advertizing costs!
It has never been easier for consumers to tune out the plethora of advertisements and commercials they hear each day. Since you can no longer get their attention with outbound marketing, you have to switch your approach to inbound marketing and make sure you‟re as easy to find when consumers are looking for you. When was the last time you used a phone book? Google is the new phone book. If your website is not indexed and optimized to show for keywords and phrases that are relevant to what you have to offer, all of that potential traffic is going to your competitors. Gate One Marketing can do this for your business worldwide! We have office’s in Europe and the USA so we work for you over 20 hours a day!
Outbound marketing as we know it is dead. It used to be that a majority of a local company‟s marketing budget went to yellow pages, newspaper, and radio advertisements. In order for you to get any business, you had to put your offers and advertisements in your prospect‟s face. Well, not anymore. The age of the Internet has made it so that consumers are now in control.
It has never been easier for consumers to tune out the plethora of advertisements and commercials they hear each day. Since you can no longer get their attention with outbound marketing, you have to switch your approach to inbound marketing and make sure you‟re easy to find when consumers are looking for you. When was the last time you used a phone book? Google is the new phone book. If your website is not indexed and optimized to show for keywords and phrases that are relevant to what you have to offer, all of that potential traffic is going to your competitors.
How Search Engines Work
Search engines have one objective – to provide you with the most relevant results possible in relation to your search query. If the search engine is successful in providing you with information that meets your needs, then you are a happy searcher. And happy searchers are more likely to come back to the same search engine time and time again because they are getting the results they need.
In order for a search engine to be able to display results when a user types in a query, they need to have an archive of available information to choose from. Every search engine has proprietary methods for gathering and prioritizing website content. Regardless of the specific tactics or methods used, this process is called indexing.
Search engines actually attempt to scan the entire online universe and index all the information so they can show it to you when you enter a search query.
How do they do it? Every search engine has what are referred to as bots, or crawlers, that constantly scan the web, indexing websites for content and following links on each webpage to other webpages. If your website has not been indexed, it is impossible for your website to appear in the search results. Unless you are running a shady online business or trying to cheat your way to the top of the search engine results page (SERP),chances are your website has already been indexed.
So, big search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are constantly indexing hundreds of millions, if not billions, of webpages. How do they know what to show on the SERP when you enter a search query? The search engines consider two main areas when determining what your website is about and how to prioritize it.
- Content on your website:When indexing pages, the search engine bots scan each page of your website, looking for clues about what topics your website covers and scanning your website‟s back-end code for certain tags, descriptions, and instructions.
- Who’s linking to you:As the search engine bots scan webpages for indexing, they also look for links from other websites. The more inbound linksa website has, the more influence or authority it has. Essentially, every inbound link counts as a vote for that website‟s content.
- Also, each inbound link holds different weight. For instance, a link from a highly authoritative website like The New York Times (nytimes.com) will give a website a bigger boost than a link from a small blog site. This boost is sometimes referred to as link juice.
When a search query is entered, the search engine looks in its index for the most relevant information and displays the results on the SERP. The results are then listed in order of most relevant and authoritative.
If you conduct the same search on different search engines, chances are you will see different results on the SERP. This is because each search engine uses a proprietary algorithm that considers multiple factors in order to determine what results to show in the SERP when a search query is entered.
A few factors that a search engine algorithm may consider when deciding what information to show in the SERP include:
- Geographic location of the searcher
- Historical performance of a listing (clicks, bounce rates, etc.)
- Link quality (reciprocal vs. one-way)
- Webpage content (keywords, tags, pictures)
- Back end code or HTML of webpage
- Link type (social media sharing, link from media outlet, blog, etc.)
Before the days of Google (circa 1997), search engines relied solely on indexing web page content and considering factors like keyword density in order to determine what results to put at the top of the SERP. This approach gave way to what are referred to as black-hat SEOtactics, as website engineers began intentionally stuffing their webpages with keywords so they would rank at the top of the search engines, even if their webpages were completely irrelevant to the search result.
What it Takes to Rank
It is not difficult to get your website to index and even rank on the search engines. However, getting your website to rank for specific keywords can be tricky. There are essentially 3 elements that a search engine considers when determining where to list a website on the SERP: rank, authority, and relevance.
Rank is the position that your website physically falls in on the SERP when a specific search query is entered. If you are the first website in the organic section of the SERP (don‟t be confused by the paid ads at the very top), then your rank is 1. If your website is in the second position, your rank is 2, and so on. As discussed previously in How Search Engines Work, your rank is an indicator of how relevant and authoritative your website is in the eyes of the search engine, as it relates to the search query entered.
Gate One has coincidentally moved our Clients to Alexa Rankings less then 500k in the world of 77 Million Businesses!
Tracking how your website ranks for a specific keyword over time is a good way to determine if your SEO techniques are having an impact. However, since there are so many other factors beyond your control when it comes to ranking, do not obsess over it. If your website jumps 1-5 spots from time to time, that‟s to be expected. It‟s when you jump 10, 20, 30 spots up in the rankings that it makes sense to pat yourself on the back.
As previously discussed in the How Search Engines Work section, search engines determine how authoritative and credible a website‟s content is by calculating how many inbound links (links from other websites) it has. However, the number of inbound links does not necessarily correlate with higher rankings. The search engines also look at how authoritative the websites that link to you are, what anchor text is used to link to your website, and other factors such as the age of your domain.
You can track over time how authoritative your website is by monitoring a few different metrics. There are a variety of tools to help you keep track. HubSpot offers a free tool called Website Grader that will show you how many domains are linking to your website, and also provide your website‟s Moz rank. MozRank is SEOmoz’s general, logarithmically scaled 10-point measure of global link authority or popularity. It is very similar in purpose to the measures of link importance used by the search engines (e.g., Google’s PageRank).
Relevance is a one of the most critical factors of SEO. The search engines are not only looking to see that you are using certain keywords, but they are also looking for clues to determine how relevant your content is to a specific search query.
Besides actual text on your webpages, the search engines will review your website‟s structure, use of keywords in your URLs, page formatting (such as bolded text), and what keywords are in the headline of the web page versus those in the body text.
While there is no way to track how relevant your website is, there are some SEO basics you can practice to cover your bases and make sure you are giving the search engines every possible opportunity to consider your website. We‟ll get to that in just a bit.
Search engines are extremely complex. The bottom line:is the search engines are trying to think like human beings. It is very easy to get caught up in modifying your website‟s content just so you rank on the search engines.
When in doubt, always error on the side of providing relevant and coherent content that your website‟s audience (your prospects) can digest. If you find yourself doing something solely for the search engines, you should take a moment to ask yourself why?