What is SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)?
Search engines like Google display sites by crawling through the website and measuring its authority and relevancy by content and of amount of linked pages. In this case, links count as votes for higher Google ranking.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is writing the content and building links that use specific keywords that people use in search engines to find relevant results. It is the process of ensuring that your website can be found in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN for keywords that are relevant to what your website offers. It improves the visibility of a website naturally (unpaid) by on-page and off-page optimization. The former comprises of HTML codes whilst the latter refers to back linking of the links that points back to the optimized site (Jones, 2008).
SEO Back Then
The earlier days of SEO were easier to crack the search engine algorithms that quickly placed you in the top ten results just by inserting chosen keywords in the title tag and throughout the body of the website. Back in 2004, there was less focus on content but more on link building. Search engines’ result page such as Yahoo!, Ask, and AOL were not as quick in ranking adjustments and remained steady (Stamoulis, n.d.). Nowadays, algorithms for search engines became much more advanced and complicated. A focus on content quality is the foundation of a good website optimization in contrast to the earlier tactic of focusing on links’ quantities.
- Title Tags: The most important part of your SEO page is the title tag that uses the highlighted keyword for the user experience and search engines. The tag defines the content of the website appearing in search engine results page, the browser, and external websites (Schachinger 2012).
- Meta description: HTML or XHTML elements that provide information about your website for the search engine display. It is important to gain the interest of the user when looking at the search engine result page (Schachinger 2012).
- Image names and ALT tag: Due to search engines looking at text on a web page and cannot break down images, videos, and Flash, it is vital to put the description as a text on your website. Putting keywords within the image code but in a natural manner will make it noticeable for search engines (Jones 2008).
Here’s a consistent image name for my portfolio:
Here’s a consistent ALT tag that I used for my images. I want my images to appear on search engines when a potential employer or client types my full name on Google.
- Designing a sitemap: Having a sitemap makes it easy for search engine crawlers to access all of the pages on your website. Having a very detailed sitemap that breaks down your internal linking structure is vital for a user-friendly experience. Having a sitemap can assist visitors to see all the pages on your website, which is very important if you have a lot of content and links (“XML Sitemaps Generator”).
- The NoFollow attribute: This is an HTML attribute where it informs search engines to not follow the outbound link. This is important to add when you have a lot of external links on your website because it will influence and affect your page’s rankings in the search engines. By simply applying the code below, it avoids the search engine to interlink between the pages that are not related and causing the crawlers to think that your content has many unrelated and sporadic themes / topics / keywords. For my website, http://www.sarah-angela.com, will be detrimental once I build a blog that will generate a lot of outbound links. At the moment, a nofollow attribute is not needed (“Beginner’s Guide to Link Building”).
<a rel=”nofollow” href=”http://www.outboundlink.com”>
- Redirect with 301: Redirection is forwarding the nonexistent URL to another working URL automatically. Having a 301 means that the page moved to a different location and the search engines will forward the link from the old page to the new. It prevents users from seeing the ugly “Page Not Found” sign that makes your brand looks unclean (Jones 2008).
- Create Content: Writing for people and not for search engines: Quality content is important because the better the content, the higher your site will rank which depends on how informative and authoritative your content is. This is relevant topic that serves a useful purpose. It is not enough to post pictures on a website. Quality content is writing a very descriptive label of the product enough that the customer will understand what it is without having to see it (Jones 2008). Currently, http://www.sarah-angela.com, is a photography portfolio that lacks content outside of photos. Adding a blog is important to create both content and community in order to have more value and relevancy during a search engine’s evaluation. Writing a post will benefit my website to write an educational and entertaining topic for people, as opposed to being contained in short keywords to add to an ALT tag. A well-written content for human consumption, not search engines, will benefit a higher ranking in the SERP but also attracting users to visit and share the website.
- Link Building: Content affects search ranking because overtime, the content will attract other sites that cover the same topic that gives the potential for them to link to your site, creating more attraction from their network. The more inbound links your site will have, the more search engines will deem your website trustful, authoritative, and relevant (Jones 2008).
- Social Media Optimization: Using your online social channels effectively by linking everything together to get optimum results can be a powerful tool. Sharing your Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc increase the clients’ awareness of your product and brand. By linking all of your social channels, you get to generate traffic around your website and your other channels. You enhance your content by sharing across social media platforms. Social media is the best way to promote new content. By interlinking your website with Twitter or Facebook, the visibility of your content becomes stronger.
Common SEO Mistakes
Approaches to SEO strategy vary in two ways: White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO. Both have the same elements but the tactics vary in which White Hat SEO uses techniques to improve the website’s ranking without exploiting the search engine guidelines. This is the development of quality content, enhancing and restructuring of website’s HTML, as well as proper link buildings with quality content. The result of the White Hat technique is a lower but gradual growth that leads to a long-term development of your brand. The Black Hat SEO incorporates tactics exploiting the search engines’ algorithm weakness to get faster results in a shorter period of time. Techniques include spamming links and keywords by using robots. The risk in using Black Hate is being penalized and banned by search engines for being unethical (“Types of SEO – White Hat & Black Hat SEO”).
Monitor your Results
SEO is ongoing and fluid. You will need to monitor your results to learn about the visitors of your website and how they consume your content. Monitoring which keywords are effective is important for content development and to stay competitive within the search results page.
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