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How Search Engine Optimization Works

Whenever someone asks me “What do you do?” it really is a loaded question because understanding what I do requires just a little understanding of SEO and how SEO works.

More often than not I find myself answering like this, “I work for a local Internet Marketing company that specializes in Search Engine Optimization”. Then I follow it up with “Essentially, it’s like an advertising company for websites.”

I am always prepared to get a puzzled face that may recognize the term ‘SEO’ but not have any clue as to what SEO is, what it means or how it works. I must also be prepared to explain in more detail exactly what is SEO. This is usually how the conversation might play out:

Me: The whole point of SEO or Search Engine Optimization, is to improve your web pages and make sure that they meet and adhere to the search engine guidelines so that your website can be found at the top search engine results pages (SERPs).

Person: But how does SEO work? What does it mean to “optimize your site”?

Me: What search engine optimization does is …

“Improve your web pages and make them better, more useful
and more effective for everyone including the people who visit your site
and for the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.”

In other words, search engine optimization helps both the search engines and the visitors.

Person: Oh, you mean like you get the website at the top of the page?

Me: Yes but it’s a little more complicated than just “getting” it there. Websites don’t just magically appear at the top by following a secret formula or paying a fee to Google. There’s much more to it …

Most times, they’ve heard enough but sometimes the person is intrigued and wants to hear more. The rest of the conversation might be summarized below.

Understanding How SEO Helps the Search Engines

Search engine optimization works by making sure your web pages meet the search engine guidelines and become more relevant. SEO helps the search engines to:

  • Find your web pages easier
  • Review your web pages faster
  • Better understand what your website is all about
  • So they can Index your web pages properly (add your pages to their database)
  • Rate your web pages more favorably
  • And list your web pages near the top of the search engine results so people can find you easier

In summary, search engine optimization works to help your web pages:

  1. Be Found
  2. Be Understood
  3. Be Indexed
  4. Be Rated Properly
  5. And Be Visible to people who are searching

Understanding How SEO Helps Your Visitors

Optimizing your web pages to make them as good as possible will help your website perform better in the search engines, which in turn, puts you in front of the very people who are searching for what you have to offer.

Search engine optimization works to help visitors find your website faster and easier plus your website will:

  • Be more relevant for the terms people use to find your website
  • Be easier to navigate
  • Help visitors find what they came looking for faster
  • Help visitors make better decisions (sooner) about what you have to offer
  • Help convert visitors into customers

In summary, search engine optimization will help visitors to:

  1. Find your site faster
  2. Understand your offerings
  3. Make better decisions about what they want
  4. Convert sooner

Understanding How Search Engine Optimization Works

While you may not know how to do SEO, there are many ways to optimize your web pages to make them as good as possible for searchers and for the search engines.

During search engine optimization, improvement changes can be made to any of the following (plus much more) to help improve your web pages and your page performance.

So in answer to the question, “How does SEO work?” here are some of the many places SEO helps to make improvements to your website:

  • Web Page Content
    – Body Text Content
    – Keyword Usage
    – Page Titles
    – Sub-Headings
    – Link Text
    – Images
    – Meta Data (Meta Titles, Descriptions, Alt Text)
    – Content Management Systems (CMS)
    – E-commerce Systems (shopping carts)
  • Source Code
  • In-Bound Linking
  • Page Loading Times
  • Image Sizing
  • Site Structure/Architecture
  • Site Navigation
  • Social Media/Videos
  • Server Setup
  • Hosting
  • Performance Analytics

Learn More About How Search Engine Optimization Works

By the end of the conversation I usually like to look at the big picture again; In marketing, the primary goal is to get your message out to as many potential customers as possible so they will buy your product or services.

Online marketing can be very powerful because no other marketing medium has the potential to reach as many potential customers 24/7 as do the search engines. And search engines like Google simply want to give their searchers the best, most relevant pages that they think will match what is being searched for.

The purpose of doing search engine optimization then, is to try and do just that: Provide the best, most relevant pages for the keyword term that was searched on.

Still looking for more answers? Visit our detailed explanation of “What is Search Engine Optimization” or contact our Search Engine Optimization Consultants.

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What I’ve Learned About SEO That Every Business Owner Needs to Know

In today’s article Cathy, our newest staff member, reflects on what she has learned about SEO since joining our team that she thinks all small business owner should know.

Search Engines need to find your website with the phrases customers use.

I like to think of keywords (or phrases) as your anchor or connection to the Search Engine. Since nearly half of all website visitors come from a Natural Search, (i.e. Google or Bing) keywords are now your connection to new customers too! If potential customers cannot find your site because your website’s language doesn’t include the search phrases searchers are using, you lose credibility. If you are not ranking for the keywords your customers are searching for then you need SEO.

But SEO is more than just keywords.

However not just keywords get you ranked. Google uses an algorithm (set of rules) made up of over 200 factors to evaluate your website. Evaluating how keywords are used on your website is just one factor. For example, did you know that where your website is hosted can affect your rankings? Google is always updating its algorithm to better meet the needs of Internet users and to be able to provide relevant search results.

Your website’s mobile responsiveness matters, a lot.

Google now places importance on how your site displays on various devices. A site can look great on a desktop screen but if it is not optimized to display on tablets or mobile platforms not only will Google show your website LESS in mobile search results, your website visitors will quickly move to a site that they can view with ease. If your website is not adaptive to various screen sizes and devices then you may need SEO.

Google uses Semantics to understand your website better than you think.

Do not underestimate Google’s ability to understand the language and context of a search query, or its ability to assess whether your website may have an answer to the search. Google now considers semantics in its algorithm which means that the context of your answer to search queries must be understandable. The days of creating countless pages with poorly written, over keyword-optimized content are gone. Searchers are looking for direct, understandable answers to their questions and Search Engines are doing their best to rank websites with these answers at the top. If your content is not meeting the criterion set by the search engine semantics then you need SEO.

Google favors local search results;
Local SEO gets you the exposure you need in your city.

Where are you located? Google now ranks your site on the information you provide about where you are and how your clients can reach you. If your site does not rank in your market area, you need SEO.

Images and video make up a huge portion of Google Searches.
Are your images and videos ranking?

Today, more than ever, the internet has become image driven. YouTube has taken videos to new markets worldwide and Google now indexes and ranks images, presentations, and videos to make it easier for the viewer to find what they are looking for. There are Best Practices to optimizing videos and images to ensure that your media content is noticed that you need to follow.

Don’t let other websites copy your content;
Duplicate content can have devastating effects on SEO.

This may seem like we are going back to high school but plagiarism is bad! You never want to copy someone else’s website content and you don’t want to risk the consequences of letting someone else copy yours!

Google penalizes duplicate content. Google gives credit to the first website it finds with the content (this even involves short phrases). Any other website with the content does not get any credit. There are ways to check your website for duplicate content and to tell if other websites are using your content in an unauthorized manner.

A website needs to load fast because visitors are impatient and Google recognizes this.

People are in a hurry. They want answers now. Google knows this and in order to provide these impatient visitors with the best experience Google search results will favor fast loading website results. If your website is slow to load you risk losing potential traffic and customers either because you won’t be shown in Search Results or because the visitors will leave your website.

Are you learning more about your website? Does this bring up more questions about how your website may be hurting itself in terms of SEO and rankings? One of our SEO consultants is available to speak with you. Simply call us toll free at 1-888-262-6687 or email contact@1stonthelist.ca to arrange a time that works for you to speak with us. 

What Search Engines See

Search Engine Optimization refers to the process involved in making improvements and changes to webpages so that they conform to the SEARCH CRITERIA utilized by search engines to rank and position listings. It is one of the most effective website promotion (Levels of Search Engine Promotion) techniques. Understanding the basic structure of how search engines index and retrieve documents is paramount to Search Engine Optimization success.

Important Factors To Consider About Search Engine Spiders/ Robots

‘Spiders’ are used by search engines to locate, index, rank, and list their findings. Here’s a few things to keep in mind about them:

  • Most indexing spiders can only read text
  • Depending on the format, they have great difficulty with dynamic, asp, Cold Fusion, Flash, multiple redirects, tables and code such as Java Script. If it’s not text based or they can’t access the text, spiders won’t see it
  • They determine ranking based on where you place your prime “keyword phrases”, i.e. the terms used to conduct a search
  • They take into consideration criteria such as keyword frequency, prominence, weight and proximity, plus keyword placement within the HTML
  • They like “content rich” or thematic text (sufficient enough to support the primary keyword phrase) about your products/ services and use this to determine how relevant the page is to a searcher’s request

Search Engine Friendly Websites

Search Engine Optimization involves making websites friendly to ‘what the spiders see.’ There are many factors to consider when optimizing a website, some of which are:

  • Head, title, and meta tags (include descriptions, keywords, and copyright info)
  • Incorporating body text that supports targeted keywords
  • Converting dynamic web pages (.asp, .jsp, .php) to allow for reading by search engine robots/ spiders
  • Reducing source code without compromising website functionality
  • Improving/ fixing html code, and broken links and tags
  • Ensuring sufficient keyword concentration and placement on a page
  • Rewriting or copywriting to ensure the content supports the keyword phrases

Other variables include when and where customers/ visitors should enter your website (Website Entrance) and what is the best way to present them with the information they seek (Product Introduction Pages).

Search Engine Optimization is a very important component of Internet Marketing and is instrumental in the success of a website. Make sure that you find experienced Website Promotion/ Search Engine Optimization professionals to do the work for you. Their knowledge and understanding should be able to get into the top-20 rankings with the major search engines.

If you found this article useful and would like to discuss how your website can benefit from highly successful, proven Website Promotion and Search Engine Optimization strategies, please use our SEO quote request form or call toll free 1-888-262-6687.

1stonthelist, Canadian Search Engine Optimization company