What is SEO? There are countless definitions for the term “search engine optimization” out there, but sometimes the simplest explanation is best. SEO is the method of enhancing a website to boost its visibility for applicable web searches. Still confused? Here is a bare bones analogy: if you put a bright red hat on a child, the child’s teacher will be more likely to notice that child in a large classroom.
What's Search Engine Optimization?
To better understand how SEO works, one needs to know how search engines like Google and Yahoo! use bots to crawl webpages on the Internet. According to Cloudfare, bots are actually software applications that are programmed to do certain things, like operate on social media platforms, chat with users and, as mentioned, scan webpages.
Bots move from site to site, collecting data about webpages and indexing them. From there, algorithms analyze the indexed pages, using many different factors and signals for ranking. This information determines the order that the webpages show up in when queries are entered into the search engines’ query boxes.
So what do those bots search for? Search Engine Land describes some of the most important factors, emphasizing that they all work in conjunction with one another, rather than separately. They break these down into different categories, starting with content quality. Here are some more details about what bots look for on webpages.
The Importance of Quality Content
Quality content captures and engages audiences, who are becoming more and more sophisticated every day. They seek out valuable, fresh, authentic content that is useful and compelling. Fluff and hard sell articles are not as likely to rank as high as informative, well-written content. Today’s users need to trust what they read, and they will develop loyalty to websites providing that.
Building quality content starts with keyword research. This helps writers create content that has answers to the questions that users search for. The keywords are then entered into the content, where they flow naturally and should not appear stuck in or awkward.
The main goal of quality content is to answer the reader’s questions. Users generally go online when they have problems that need to be solved, such as a gardener who wants to save their dying rose bushes. In a perfect world, that user would enter “my rosebush is dying” into Google, and your gardening website would be at the top of the search results.
SEO encompasses all the steps that it took to get you to the top of those results. The user would read your article about which fertilizers are best for saving rose bushes, and they would then click on the link to your fertilizer and buy it. Boom – you made a sale.
More Technical Aspects of SEO
Quality content is crucial, but website architecture is also an important SEO factor. Those bots need to be able to read the website’s pages and index them to your advantage. In order for a website to be “crawlable,” it has to load quickly, have correct internal links, and have no URL errors. While Search Engine Land claims that most webpages do not have major crawling issues, it is often best to use plain HTML for the site’s most important code.
Following are a few tips for SEO architecture:
Use more descriptive words in page URLs, including a high-ranking keyword or two
Use directories to organize pages
Ensure that the webpages do not have duplicate content, since there should only be one version of the page available to search engines
Websites should be mobile-friendly, since most searches start on mobile devices.
Search engines use HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) titles to analyze pages, so your titles should explain what the content is about in unique, descriptive ways. Meta descriptions that appear below the titles (headlines) should also be crisp and accurate.
Headings, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs also contribute to good SEO rankings.
Other Ranking Factors
Bots are one way that search engines rank websites – they also search for a website that has expertise, trustworthiness, and authority. These can all be measured by examining how long a site has existed, the types of links, words, and phrases in and surrounding backlinks, and engagement metrics. Google uses human raters who evaluate these qualities using certain guidelines. While their feedback does not affect ranking directly, their input is used to develop search algorithms.
Finally, effective SEO uses quality links that are relevant to the content and direct users to trusted websites. Google looks at links and the anchor text (the clickable text for the link) for ranking purposes. These should be concise, written in natural language, and can also use words like “click here.” Here are some helpful resources for link building.
Need SEO Help?
For professional help with search engine optimization, a dedicated team of experts is standing by. Contact Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing today for help with your SEO and content needs.