The Problem – Internet Congestion
In the past few decades, the internet has undeniably increased in popularity and importance. Those who would not have hesitated to open a phone book a few years ago are now accustomed to a quick search on Google or Bing as their phone books collect dust. Other activities such as watching television, reading the news, or even ordering a pizza are becoming commonplace events online.
With everyone recognizing the importance of the internet in business and scrambling to take advantage of it, the internet has become a very congested utility. Searching for a website on a search engine is like rush hour in a big city. The more websites that are created, the harder it is to get where you are going.
Search engines have attempted to make it easier for users to find what they are looking for, yet, the engines pull up endless results for the content you searched. A simple search on Google for ‘Dallas florists’ produces about 2,320,000 results. Obviously, a city with a population of 1.3 million does not have 2.3 million florists.
What if you were a Dallas florist?
Where would your website lie in the thousands of pages of results?
In this blog post, we reveal why SEO for business is so important.
The Solution - Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is simply the art of increasing a webpage’s relevancy and ranking in search results through techniques that utilize a search engine's unique indexing and searching methods. It is a multifaceted, complicated, and time-consuming procedure, which, if done correctly, can substantially increase your websites traffic.
However, SEO is not an instant process – it can take upwards of 6 months for someone who has taken the necessary steps and implemented best practices to reap the benefits. Plus, search engines go through a hefty process for producing content to show users that is relevant.
Search engines rank websites based on several criteria. Content quality, site performance, and external links are just a few of these. SEO Analysts study the different criteria of specific search engines and employ tactics which are used to increase page rank.
One way to properly implement SEO is by optimizing each web page on a website with a keyword phrase. A keyword phrase is a group of keywords that reflect what a user should search for on a search engine to find the website.
Each page can also be optimized for different keyword phrases to increase the likelihood that a page on the website will be found. Search engine crawlers – the entity that search engines use to pass through pages – will look at the home page first and all internal pages after. For this reason, it is advisable to optimize your homepage before optimizing your internal pages. Professional SEO Analysts often utilize software applications that help determine which keywords are the most relevant and how certain HTML elements effect their potential ranking. Pages that promote keywords that do not describe its content or employ keyword stuffing are given lower rankings, and sometimes even penalized for “gray/black hat” SEO tactics.
External linking is another common tactic utilized by SEO Analysts to increase the relevancy of a website. If trusted and established sites link to pages on your website, this in turn increases the search engine’s assurance in your website. Backlinks are a critical aspect of SEO, as they are often considered one of the strongest ranking factors on search engines.
It is best for optimization purposes to ensure that your external links have relevant keywords around them called anchor text. A common format for linking a word or phrase in HTML is "<a href=”https://www.yourwebsite.com”> Keyword" Where "Keyword" is considered the anchor text – it is important to have relevant keywords as anchor text because it provides more credibility to that keyword with authoritative proof from another website.
Furthermore, some SEO organizations promote websites by link spamming, link selling, or mass page generation with poor or irrelevant content. As these malicious methods have become more popular – and have congested the internet – search engines have taken steps to lower the rankings of websites that implement these techniques or ban them altogether. This was a major implementation in Google’s "Penguin" update.
Best practices for on-page optimization are often-overlooked in SEO. Many amateurs focus on keywords and linking building alone without delving into this very important part of search engine optimization. If a web page has poor HTML, title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, or other HTML elements, the search engine crawler won't prioritize their site as it's not structured properly for SERPs.
There are many other factors that affect a website’s ranking. Some search engines take note of server downtimes, and some website genres are more congested than others. It all depends on which search engines you are optimizing for, what keywords you are focusing on, and the type of SEO tactics you employ.
Where to Get Started
SEO is an undertaking best done by professionals with web development experience, but not every web development company can do both. Cautiously examine prospective SEO professionals and be sure to ask them about their approach. Be wary of SEO organizations which use what is called “black hat” SEO approaches. These include, but are not limited to, link spamming, link selling, mass page creation, cloaking techniques, irrelevant keywords, or using the same keyword phrase for every page. “Black hat” SEO can irreparably damage a website’s trust, relevancy, and ranking.
A good rule of thumb in distinguishing between “black hat” and “white hat” SEO techniques is to determine whether the focus is beating the search engine at its own game or genuinely trying to increase its relevancy through actual user content. Search engines constantly work to catch websites that use “black hat” techniques. For example, Google frequently implements updates to rid their platform of black hat techniques, which is beneficial for users searching for content.
What to Expect
After taking steps to optimize your website, hopefully you’ll begin to notice a small improvement in rankings within a few days on major search engines, increasing to moderate or substantial improvement in 6 weeks to a few months. This is because search engines rely on a cache which updates on a cycle. As your website is updated within their records, you will begin to see changes in traffic.
Almost 95% users on search engines will not continue their search past the first page of the SERPs. It is for this reason that the goal is to choose optimal keyword phrases and attempt to rank as highly as possible. While becoming the first result may be a longshot in some congested markets, it is not uncommon for a well optimized website to appear in the first few listings.