Search Engines Optimization; The Overview
Search engines vigilantly analyze websites when ranking them on SERPs. If you are an online entrepreneur or blogger, you must strive to attain the highest possible ranking to profit. So, what is SEO? SEO is therefore the process of attaining the best ranking in search engines results pages; it takes time, expertise and resources as you have to compete against millions of other websites with similar keywords targeting the same audience.
Important SEO Statistics
Before delving deep into SEO details, take a look at the following search engines optimization statistics;
More than 70% of all links surfers click on are organic
You can increase your traffic by up to 2,000% with proper content marketing
More than 70% of web surfers ignore paid ads as they prefer organic links
SEO generated leads are 60% cheaper than outbound links (like telephone calls)
Close to 40% of online prospects/customers are referred to websites by search engines
The first, the second and the third search SERPs positions on Google receive 18%, 10% and 7% respectively of all traffic.
Every month, more than 100 billion searches are conducted globally.
The statistics above are drawn from numerous online resources, including Google. It is an indicator that the web users find natural links more viable than links to paid ads even if they are placed on top of search engine pages.
Types of SEO Techniques
There are two main types of search engines optimization strategies; white hat and black hat SEO. White hat SEO techniques are the acceptable and legitimate strategies for attaining favorable search engine ranking by sticking to the rules, while black hat techniques are the prohibited strategies that hoodwink search engines in their rankings. Search engines, especially Google have in the recent past introduced new algorithm updates (Google Panda and Penguin updates) aimed at wiping out low quality and poorly optimized sites and blogs from the search engines results and sites engaging in black hat SEO strategies.
1. White Hat SEO Techniques
As earlier stated, these are the acceptable SEO strategies. They entail adhering to set guidelines especially based on the Google webmaster tools. To attain favorable rankings, you must understand these rules for long term results. They range from high quality and effectively optimized web content to manually generated high excellent and back linking.
2. Black Hat SEO Techniques
Unlike white hat SEO strategies, black hat techniques involve the use of unethical SEO strategies to dupe search engines for better rankings in SERPs. Some of these techniques are just misused white hat strategies like keyword stuffing, using invisible texts or doorway pages, or buying bogus links. This is a very dangerous practice and websites involved risk penalties like being dropped from SERPs or banned by the search engines.
Just as the name suggests, on-page SEO entails proper optimization of the onsite SEO elements. There are a number of on-page SEO elements that must be well thought-out to attain preeminent rankings in SERPs. Some may be long-winded and require the expertise of an SEO professional.
Content: In SEO, content is king. In a world where most web users are information-seekers, you must craft high quality and unique web copy, optimized with relevant keywords and flawless to stand out. If you can, hire a professional copywriter.
Meta Tags and Title Tags: They are important for proper and speedy website indexing by the search engines. Include your keywords in title tags on all pages. Tags must be relevant to the page’s content and meta tag description. Keywords ought to be used sparingly and not stuffed in your descriptions and content as it may be considered as spam (search engines hate spam).
Internal Linking: Links make web pages more interactive and easy to access information and also speeds up crawling and indexing. This is especially important if you have a lot of content on the site, some that may be masked in deep pages.
Images: Include textual descriptions to all images for the search engines. Please note that images and videos may slow your pages’ loading time. The same applies to the flash and java elements which must be used in moderation.
User Interface: As much as an attractive web design is paramount, you must ensure that it is also user-friendly which is mainly defined by its ease of navigation. Simple designs are the best with site elements visible and easily accessible.
Some of the on-page search engines optimization factors may require some levels of technical know-how such as HTML and overall SEO knowledge. Talk to an SEO expert to get this right.
Off-Page SEO Factors
Off page SEO is the apposite management of major off-page factors that influence the overall organic results. They mainly center on building high quality links (mainly do follow) and driving traffic to your website. The following are some important off-page SEO factors;
Use of Social Media: A lot of information today is shared on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, video shares via YouTube, Google Plus one, Pinterest, among others. Other than the traffic driven from these sites, it is assumed that whatever is shared by others on social platforms is useful and valuable. Social networking and bookmarking sites therefore immensely influence the ranking of websites by search engines.
Search Engines Submissions: Getting listed on major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and many others is the surest way to get found on search results to attract targeted traffic. Submit your URL to these sites and speed up indexing even though search engines bots crawl the web for new information, it can take as long as nine months to get listed in some search engines.
RSS Syndication and Submissions to Directories: Target users who subscribe to new content through RSS feeds and directory syndication. In the end, they grant websites more exposure and improve search engines rankings.
Article and Press Releases Submissions: With more than 90% of web users seeking various pieces of information, articles and press release directories are increasingly becoming the best sources of such crucial data. You can submit articles and presses releases to directories like Squidoo, Ezine, Hubpages among others, include a link in the resources boxes for free quality link juice and targeted traffic.
On top of the discussed off-page strategies, you must use keywords appropriately, relevant anchor texts, create site maps, make use of video submission to video sharing websites like YouTube, guest blogging and comment on forums. This is s a rather knotty process that calls for time keenness and comprehensive understanding of SEO.
Google Panda and Penguin Updates
In their efforts to fight spam and unethical SEO practices, Google recently unleashed two algorithm updates; the Panda and Penguin updates.The Penguin update was mainly designed to flush out websites with poor quality backlinks, mostly spam-like. On the other hand, the Panda update that was released earlier (2011) concentrates on on-site factors like the quality of the web content and other factors. Many websites have been affected ever since these updates were let loose and are yet to regain their original positions in SERPs, and it may not be possible to fully reclaim their lost SERP slots.
The Bottom Line
SEO is very multifaceted and rapidly changing, what works today may not be helpful the following day. It therefore calls for closer attention to the changes in the industry. If you are into any online business and after realizing the best returns in your investment, it is essential to engage the services of a professional SEO agency or expert. It may take time, expertise and resources, but the results can be enormous and long lasting.
Ensure that you purely engage in white hat SEO and avoid black hat while at the same time bearing in mind the challenges posed by Google’s algorithm updates. Finally, SEO is a process; it is not a one-time-off activity. Constantly update your web content, check and build new links and other off-site SEO factors to retain a favorable position in SERPs.