SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Search engines, like Google and Bing, often narrow and rank results on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Page) using algorithms. These algorithms are a list of requirements, much like a scoring rubric in school. The more criteria a website meets, the higher it will rank on the page.
Website ranking is considerably important, as studies show that 90-95% of web users won’t bother going to the next page of results anymore. Most won’t even bother with any page below the top five results. Good SEO is about more than simple keyword prominence and placement. It’s about making sure your website fulfills most – if not all – of the requirements in the best way.
While the algorithms are regularly modified, they will always maintain the same basic criteria:
- Words. When people search for a specific word or set of words, the search engine narrows the results down to the websites that contain those words. SEO utilizes tags and pertinent keywords to ensure that your website is included in the cut-off.
Example: Your online shop sells branded shoes. Some tags might include shoes, branded shoes, and shop for shoes online.
- Titles. Each page on the web has an official title. Even if it’s not specifically written on the website itself, it could be hidden in the code. Since the coded titles often summarize the page, search engines use it to trim the results even more.
Example: If your site is about book reviews, your website title could be “The Book Worm.” However, your title in code could actually be “Book Reviews.”
- Links. When one page links to another, that usually means it’s a recommendation. Just as you’d buy a dress from a store a lot of people recommended, the SERP will rank a site higher if it has a lot of links leading to it. The words in links matter, too. If a word is used as a link to another website, search engines can establish that the linked website has to do with the word used as link.
Example: If you write “eBay sells lipstick”, and the phrase “sells lipstick” is used as a link to eBay, search engines will bring up eBay the next time someone searches “sells lipstick”.
- Reputation. Search engines also pay attention to the reputation of the site. If a site has a fresh supply of quality content every month, and the amount of links leading to it also grow considerably, that website could rise in rank.
Example: Active blogs tend to get more followers and more ratings than inactive blogs. Blog A and Blog B both review movies. However, Blog A updates at least twice a week. Blog B updates every four or five months. Google will rank Blog A higher than Blog B.
The algorithms search engines use aren’t as simple and as clear-cut as following bullet points. These algorithms factor in keyword proximity, keyword usage, and so forth. However, the first step to good SEO is understanding how keywords, links, and coded titles contribute to a website ranking. Once you grasp the basics of fulfilling search engine criteria, you’re good to go!