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Search Engine Optimization 101: A Beginner's Guide

seo blocks

There’s a reason why we all want our businesses to have an online presence – that’s because more and more people turn to the web to find the products and services that they purchase. Unlike the past, most if not all consumers today prefer online research and/or shopping for the simple reason that it is more convenient. The most important aspect of establishing your business's niche online is building and maintaining a website. With this in mind, your hope is for that website to be found on the first page of Google and other search engines, the purpose of which is of course to get noticed.  But the task of doing that is not as easy as it seems, but it’s not impossible! The entire process of website promotion with the intent of attracting traffic in the terms of interested visitors is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.

Before proceeding with this lesson, if you'd like to determine whether or not your company and its website needs SEO, take this SEO Consulting quick quiz.

In this beginner’s guide, we give you the basic understanding of SEO, starting from the creation of a website that is search engine friendly up to the identification of the phrases and terms that will effectively drive traffic. It also includes building links and the successful marketing of the selling point of your site.

Importance of SEO

Search engines are vital to your success of building a presence online. This is because they direct traffic to your site. Aren’t you familiar with Google, Bing, and Yahoo!? These are the tools that you use when searching for something online.  In essence, they work as gateways for people to navigate the Internet and find the information they need. The search engines will in turn provide the websites with the visitors that are interested in what the website offers, which then translates into exposure and publicity.

So what if you don’t make use of search engines? It’s simple: if your content or your site is not listed in the search engines, people won’t find your website. And if your website isn’t found, you lose the ability of luring in prospective clients and customers.

In the infancy of search engines, it was easy to manipulate the search engines and make them believe that your website was popular and consequently should be placed on top of their search engine results pages (SERPs). But with improved technology and algorithms, the search engines, especially Google, have become much more sophisticated. But this doesn’t mean that SEO isn’t valuable anymore. As a matter of fact, those who overlook it are the ones that will most likely fail.

When done correctly, with utmost precision and consistency, SEO can increase the chance of boosting the ranking for your website, which typically means an increase in the number of visitors and prospective clients to your site. This concept makes SEO a necessity for all businesses establishing a presence online.

What Search Engines Do

Search engines generally have two functions: crawling/indexing and providing answers.

Crawling/Indexing

One of the unique attributes of a search engine is having spiders, crawlers or bots. These are actually automated robots that are designed to crawl and go through billions of documents and pages that are interconnected through various links. The things they crawl include pictures, web pages, documents, and others. A person searching for a specific answer based on search terms will get instant results the moment they click on the search button. So as to offer the most precise and accurate answers in the quickest way possible, search engines have data-centers that house thousands of machines. These machines process an enormously large amount of information. When search engines find new pages, they will automatically decode and store them in their massive data warehouses for them to be conveniently evoked the moment they are needed for a future search.

Providing Answers

The moment a user executes an Internet search, Google and the rest will browse through billions of documents in their data-warehouse storage. They will then display the most relevant results based on the search word or phrase. Likewise, the search engines will also rank the results based primarily on importance and relevancy.

For the search engines to guarantee relevancy of the content in a website, they will see if the right keywords are found on the pages. But then again, keywords are just one factor that contributes to relevancy. There are still a lot of others to be discussed.

Keep in mind that all search engines will distinguish websites based on popularity. It means the more popular the page or site is, the more useful it looks to the eyes of the search engines. But how do they calculate or interpret the level of popularity? This is where algorithms or mathematical equations comes in.

How to Get Better Ranking in Search Engines

The algorithms in today's search engines are practically impossible to crack. However, the search engines themselves actually provide information from time to time as to how to improve website rankings. In the process of planning and executing an effective SEO campaign take into consideration these tips, directly from the search engines. Bear in mind that these tips are focused on influencing relevance and importance of your website:

Bing from Microsoft

  • Be sure that any link or content is not hidden from the crawlers mainly due to the insertion of rich media like Adobe Flash Player, Ajax, or JavaScript.
  • The URL structure should be keyword-rich.
  • Websites must have fresh and keyword rich content on a regular basis. Likewise, the same content still needs to be relevant.
  • The text designed for indexing shouldn’t be displayed inside images.

Google

  • Eliminate duplicate content by using rel=”canonical”.
  • Content should always be useful and informative, and of course relevant.
  •  The URL has to be a description of the content and it should be keyword rich.
  • Cloaking is not advised. This is when content given to the search engines is actually different from the content shown to users and visitors.
  • A minimum of one static text link for every page and it must be reachable from that page.
  • Websites must have text links and clear hierarchy.

Search Engine Usage

Search engines play a major role in the web. In fact, the Internet we have come to know today is characterized primarily by our dependence on search engines. People use search engines when they are shopping for a product or service, when there is a need for answers, solutions to problems, and basically all types of information. In order to start a search, one would type a string of words popularly known as “keywords” or “query.” There are typically three types of these:

  1. Navigational Queries - They are performed when a user is looking for specific destination like going to Facebook, Twitter, or a shoe brand website.
  2. Action Queries - Action queries meanwhile are also called transactional queries because the user usually makes a transaction in the search like hoping to listen to a song or watch a video or perhaps book a ticket or buy something.
  3. Informational Queries - The final query is knowledge driven. This means that it is performed the moment the user wants to obtain specific information like a story of the life of a personality, list of the best movies of the year, and others.

Additionally, the importance and significance of search engines can be roughly described in the following statements:

  • With higher rankings, the visibility of websites is exponentially increased.
  • Search produces a substantial amount of both online and offline financial transactions.
  • Search engines are increasingly popular every moment.
  • When a website is listed on top of search engine results, it corresponds to users putting more trust to it.

Finally, you can now say that your ultimate objective of earning profit online can be achieved if you understand and then apply the concept of search engine optimization. The key strategy is building a website that is both search engine and user friendly.

Ready for more information? Go on to our next lesson on Understanding Keywords and Your Customer’s Mindset.