Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The primary objective of search engine optimization is to increase a website's visibility and ranking within the search results related to the products or services being offered on the website. For instance if you are in the business of converting gasoline engine cars to run on batteries then you may want to optimize your business website to be found on the first page of Google (and other major search engines) when a web user types in the phrase "convert gasoline powered car to run on battery" or "electric car".
Some keywords are more competitive than others and will require more attention and time to optimize for. In the example above the term "electric car" would be much more difficult to optimize for but will generate more traffic to your website because it is more often searched for. The phrase "convert gasoline powered car to run on battery" is the type of phrase often referred to as "the long tail" of seo. It is called this because it is a longer in length and although less searched can be more effective for a particular niche, in this case, quite appropriately, a company whose niche market is in converting cars.
Search engine optimization campaigns are often structured to take advantage of "the long tail" for short term results while applying effort into optimizing for more popular and competitive terms.
The Evolution of SEO
As search engines such as Google implement filters to offer their users the best possible results companies and optimization specialists will do their best to keep their websites ranking well. Because loss in page rank and serps can be devastating to a business SEO specialists will have to stay on top of updates and be prepared to make adjustments to campaign strategies.
Quite often specialists will seek out guidelines on how to best optimize their websites. In the past these efforts would involve hierarchical systems of placing headings and keywords, proofreading for spelling and punctuation, building links to pages and other common techniques, including some that were frowned upon, often referred to as "black hat seo".
Black hat seo would involve various techniques for placing and/or hiding keywords throughout websites in an effort to give the page more "weight" for a particular word. As search engines become keen to unethical practices they would make adjustments to algorithms to clean up results.
As the struggle continues for search engines to yield the best results for their users one simple rule of thumb has emerged with regard to SEO and it doesn't have anything to do with systems, keyword weight, or links. If you want to rank well simply focus your efforts on providing your visitors with what they are hoping to find. If you provide value to your online guests then they will in return provide value to you.
Simple SEO Guidelines
- Write concise content with a focus on quality and usefulness, not keywords. If you do this your keywords will automatically fall into place.
- Submit your website to all of he major search engines, relevant directories and other websites where users may find value in what you are offering.
Search Engine Optimized Web Design
- The way that your website is built plays an important role in your search engine optimization. Information has to be presented clearly to both the human audience as well as search engines robots.
- Your website should be arranged by order of importance, the most important information should exist on the top layers or main navigation links with less important information placed into sub-layers.
- Make sure that users can tell the difference between content and advertising (if any).
- Do your best to conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
- Do not place keywords into your website simply for optimization purposes, instead focus on providing valuable and relevant content for your visitors.
- Do not copy content from other websites or make duplicate websites with the exact same content, duplicate content has a negative impact on SEO and you may face copyright infringement issues.
- Carefully examine websites suggesting potential link exchanges for relevance and best practices as some "poor quality" websites may cause negative effects to your SEO. We feel it is best to only link from websites that are relevant to your business and audience and no more.
- Carefully select the individuals or company that you have run your SEO program. SEO is a long term obligation to do the right thing for your business and your visitors. A less than professional company or individual may cause more harm by using many black hat SEO tricks. Ask your SEO professionals to explain what they will actually do for you and how sustainable the results are expected to be.
No SEO required
Not all websites need to dominate search results for a particular keyword. The websites that would benefit the most from a carefully planned SEO strategy are those that intend on using the business' website as a means of marketing services to online consumers.
For instance, a website designed for a medical practice would not need as much optimization as a website for selling printer cartridges. This is because consumers don't typically search for medical services online. Insurance companies will often provide resources to patients and patients normally rely on referrals to find a good doctor.
While medical services are sought after in a different manner, basic SEO services should be utilized in order to be found by potential patients online, especially those seeking information regarding the practice location, hours, directions, etc.