What is SEO and why you need to know about it

Posted: September 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

3b33062a-30c8-4ec6-87bd-80b325d4d584What is SEO and why you should know about it? Although there are many different SEO techniques out there, they all ultimately focus on two different effects: Improving a page’s relevance or its popularity. The former is about tweaking the content and code of a web page to make it a better match for a particular search term, while the latter involves driving more traffic to the page by building backlinks to it from other websites.

Search engines use algorithms to automatically measure both relevance and popula6d55adea-9f93-4541-9a62-376e08407b65rity. Relevance is judged based on the number of search terms that appear in a page’s content and HTML. The position of these keywords and their frequency can have both positive and negative effects on relevance. Popularity is judged by the number of links pointing to a page. This process is complicated by the fact that the search engines weigh the importance of a link based on the popularity of the page it comes from; this minimizes the effect of links from unvisited “link farms” and makes links from reputable, high-traffic websites especially important. 

As you learn more about optimization, you may hear the term “Organic SEO” mentioned. This simply indicates optimization efforts designed to improve a page’s search engine ranking automatically. It stands in contrast to outright search engine advertising, where you pay money for a premium listing that comes above the organic search results. Do not dismiss paid advertising too quickly; it’s all too easy to obsess over organic SEO and end up spending too much time and money achieving modest results that could be matched by simply paying for premium listings. 

The structure of your website plays a significant role in its search engine performance. Although the algorithms that search engines use to index your content are extremely smart, they are also extremely finicky. Complicated structures or difficult HTML can make it hard for them to access the content they are supposed to index. In these cases, the algorithms will simply skip over trouble spots, potentially leaving large portions of your site un-indexed. You want to make your structure as logical and regular as possible. Validate the HTML of all of your pages before posting them, too. 

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As mentioned above, including search terms in your HTML and your content can provide a big boost to a page’s relevance. In the SEO world, these targeted words and phrases are called “keywords.” Increasing the number of keywords that appear on a page is an effective optimization strategy, but only to a point. The algorithms are smart enough to detect “keyword-stuffing” and flag it as a spam tactic. A page where keywords are a large fraction of the total content will be penalized or removed entirely from the index. Remember that the search engines also look for keywords in the tags of your HTML code; these locations even carry extra weight due to their importance. Including a well-chosen keyword in all of your titles and headers is an excellent idea. 

These are just a few of the most basic principles of search engine optimization, but they give you enough of an understanding to start taking some optimization steps with your own website. As you gain a little experience with the process, you’ll feel more comfortable expanding your knowledge of the subject further. There are a whole host of more advanced SEO techniques waiting for you out there!

There is a SEO conference in town. If you’re interested in SEO, you should check it out.

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