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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
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What Is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the process of enhancing the visibility of web pages on search engines like Google through the use of techniques that improve organic search rankings. Given that search is one of the primary ways in which people discover online content, higher rankings on search engines can lead to increased traffic to a website.
In search engines like Google, search results are usually displayed in an ordered list, with paid ads occupying the top of the page and organic search results appearing thereafter. Traffic that comes from SEO is often referred to as organic search traffic, in contrast to traffic that comes from paid search, which is often known as search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC).
Search engine optimization is an essential part of online marketing since search is a primary way in which users navigate the web. Generally, websites that appear at the top of search results pages receive the most traffic. For instance, the first result for a typical search query can receive up to 60% of total traffic for that query, while the second and third results get significantly less traffic. It’s worth noting that only a tiny percentage of searchers click beyond the first page of search results. Therefore, even a small improvement in search engine rankings can lead to more traffic and potential business for a website.
As a result, many businesses and website owners seek to manipulate search results to make their site rank higher on the search results page than their competitors. This is where SEO comes into play.
How Does SEO Work?
Search engines, like Google, use complex algorithms to determine which pages should be displayed for a given search query. These algorithms take into account various ranking factors, which can number in the hundreds or thousands. However, there are three primary metrics that search engines use to evaluate a website’s quality and determine how it should rank:
- Links: Links from other websites to a site are a critical factor in determining its ranking on search engines. These links are viewed as votes of quality, since website owners are unlikely to link to sites of poor quality. Sites that earn links from many other sites gain authority in the eyes of search engines, particularly if the linking sites are themselves authoritative.
- Content: Search engines analyze the content of a webpage to determine if it is relevant to a particular search query. Hence, a significant aspect of SEO is creating content that targets the keywords that search engine users are looking for.
- Page structure: The third fundamental element of SEO is page structure. Since web pages are coded in HTML, how the HTML code is structured can impact a search engine’s ability to evaluate a page. Site owners can improve their site’s SEO by including relevant keywords in the title, URL, and headers of the page, and ensuring that the site is easily crawlable.
To rank higher in search results, website owners must optimize each of these core components of search engine algorithms. The SEO process involves making strategic improvements to these aspects of a website to improve its search engine rankings
Common SEO Implementation Technics
Understanding how search engines work is just the first step in improving a site’s search rankings. The actual process of improving a site’s ranking involves utilizing various SEO techniques, such as:
- Keyword research: This involves examining the keywords that a site already ranks for, the keywords that competitors rank for, and the keywords that potential customers are searching for. This helps identify existing content that can be optimized and new content that can be created to target those keywords.
- Content marketing: Once potential keywords are identified, content marketing comes into play. This involves updating existing content or creating new content that is high-quality, engaging, and relevant to the target audience. Such content has a greater chance of ranking higher in search engine results, being shared on social media, and attracting links from other websites.
- Link building: Obtaining high-quality backlinks from external websites is one of the main levers that SEO has, as backlinks are a core ranking factor in major search engines like Google. This involves promoting good content, building relationships with webmasters, submitting websites to relevant web directories, and getting press to attract links from other websites.
- On-page optimization: Improving the actual structure of a webpage can have significant benefits for SEO. This includes optimizing the URL, title tag, and alt attribute to incorporate relevant keywords, and updating meta tags (such as the meta description tag) to increase click-through rates from the search engine results pages.
- Site architecture optimization: Internal links within a website also play a large role in SEO, so optimizing a site’s architecture is essential. This involves ensuring key pages are linked to and using relevant anchor text to help improve a page’s relevance for specific search terms. Creating an XML sitemap can also help search engines discover and crawl all of a site’s pages.
- Semantic markup: Another SEO strategy is optimizing a site’s semantic markup to describe the meaning behind its content. This can help with getting rich snippets displayed in the search results page, such as extra text, review stars, and even images. While rich snippets don’t directly impact search rankings, they can improve click-through rates from search and result in an increase in organic traffic.