When you hear SEO you might wonder what it is.
When I say “ranking in Google” or “having your website appear high in Google’s search results” you know exactly what I mean.
SEO is “the art of having your website appear high in Google’s search results” (or other search engines for that matter).
SEO stands for search enginge optimisation and it is all about skills to get your site to appear as high as possible in the search results. Search engines like Google or Bing use algorithms to determine which website matches the search query best.
algorithmˈalɡərɪð(ə)m/nounnoun: algorithm; plural noun: algorithms
- a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.“a basic algorithm for division”
When you can show that you can offer the visitor the most then your website will end up higher in the search results. SEO is often combined with SEA (search engine advertising). With this, your website can appear high in the search results as well, but then you’ll pay for it.
How does my page end up higher?
The essence of SEO is two-fold: create great content and add good links. Of course it is a bit more complex than this but if you do not want to spend time and energy sorting your SEO out, this will do.
Search engines attribute authority to websites that deliver unique content with the right keywords. When somebody searches for ‘buy a bicycle’, Google will search for texts that contain just that (or something similar like ‘buy a bike’). The ‘freshness’ of the content is also important. Google does not like copied text, or one that is based on another source. The user is leading though; make sure your text are easily readable and contain enough information.
How do I get links from important websites?
As said before, content is important. So are links to your website. Google counts the links on your website as ‘popularity votes’. The more reliable votes you have, the higher your rank. Not every link counts the same though; the quality of the link also counts. Five links to your site from a random discussion forum will have less impact than one link from a global news site. That is why link building – collecting links to your site – not easy. The best way is to write unique and valuable content that websites love to link to.
What are the no-nos?
What I mention above is the simplistic view on SEO. There are many more factors that affect your ranking as well as pitfalls that you should avoid.
Avoid the following three things at all cost:
- Keyword stuffing
Yay, you have done some keyword research and now use this keyword as much as possible in your page. So much so that it is not fun to read anymore. By doing this, you might think that Google now considers you the most relevant source for this keyword. This used to work, but modern search engines are smarter than this. When you overdo it, you can even get penalized by Google. It is no fun being in the dog box (on one of the lower pages of the search results).
- Buying links
Some companies are specialised in selling links. You pay a fixed amount to get a certain number of links to your website. These links are of low quality. Often those links come from dodgy servers or ‘link farms’, websites that only store links and nothing else. These links do not benefit your ranking and might actually make it worse.
- Not updating your website
The SEO process is never finished. The search engine algorithms are updated all the time. Responsive design (or mobile friendliness) became more important int he last few years. Google ranks sites that are mobile friendly better in the mobile search results (over 50$ of all searches). If you do not update your website and you don’t follow the latest trends, you rund the risk of falling behing and of not ranking as well as you should.