What is Search Engine Optimization?
By Shivam Chawla on May 02, 2017
Before learning about what Search Engine Optimization is, you must first know about how google or any other search engine works. So lets start with how a search engine works and how it knows so much about the internet.
How Search Engines Works?
A search engine like google uses a bot that crawls every page it finds. The bot spiders all the links that it finds on the page. It then spiders the linked pages and finds links on those pages and this cycle continues. Using this technique, the search engine creates a database with all the pages and their contents and the pages that they link to and are linked from. When a person searches something, google uses this database to serve the best results for. Simple isnt it. Actually, NO.
How Search Engines handles Searches?
As you know, there are billions of websites on the internet. Working on a database with billions of links every time a user searches a keyword isnt a viable solution. Even google cant afford it. Thats why, search engines keeps a database of pregenerated keywords with the set of results that it is going to show which are refreshed after a particular amount of time.
Search Engine Optimization
Now that you know how search engines work. Lets talk about Search Engine Optimization. After the results are generated, the search engine needs to decide which search result is better for the keyword. For this purpose, search engine’s have many algorithms that no one knows. But we have a basic idea of how they work. The process of optimizing a website to make it pass search engine algorithms is known as Search Engine Optimization.
Always remember that no one knows how google or any other search engine ranks a website for a keyword. If people knew, you would never be able to get correct results for anything you search. But there are theories and some techniques that helps in achieving better results and rankings on search engines.
Search Engine Optimization can be broken into two categories:
- On Page SEO
- Off Page SEO
On Page SEO
On page SEO refers to the changes that you can do on your website to improve your positions in search engine rankings. There are couple of things that you must keep in mind while creating a new page on your website. Some of them are:
- Title: The title of the page must contain the main keyword that you are trying to target. Also try to keep the length of title between 10-70 characters.
- Meta Description Tag: The meta description tag holds the description that search engine displays when your search result appears for a particular keyword. Sometimes, search engine displays a different snippet from the page’s content depending on the keyword. But it is recommended to write a good meta description about the page as it increases the CTR or chances that the user will click on your page. Meta descriptions should not be more than 156 characters in size. And also try to include your main keyword in meta description.
- Images: Images present on your webpage also affects your search rankings. All images on the webpage must have an alt attribute. Content surrounded by related images ranks higher in search engines.
- Text/HTML Ratio: The text/html ratio on a webpage must always be greater than 25%. So make sure your webpage has more than 400 words.
- Heading Tags: Each webpage must have one H1 tag which should contain the main keyword that you are trying to target. There can be multiple H2 tags. Always try to have one H1 tag, two H2 tags and two H3 tags on a webpage.
- Original Content: Always remember “Content is the king”. Google always love unique content. If you have quality unique content, you have everything.
- Keyword Density: The keyword that you are trying to target must appear regularly in your content but not too much that it seems unnatural. The keyword density of your main keyword must be around 1-3%. High keyword density can incur google penalty.
- External Links: You must not have many external links on a webpage. A search engine doesnt mind if you have links to high authorative pages but if you link to low quality new websites, you might be penalized and may lose search engine rankings. If you dont want to be penalized and want to keep the links, you can add an attribute rel=”nofollow” to the links.
Off Page SEO
Off page SEO can be regarded as a process to build authority about a website on the internet. The number of links pointing to a website or a page can highly influence its rank in the search engine. Couple of things search engine keeps in mind while evaluating the links to a website:
- Website Authority: The webpage that is pointing to your page is authoritative or not. Basically, authority can be regarded as the level of trust a search engine has on a website. A website that has quality content and has links from other quality websites is of high authority. Number of links doesnt decide the authority of the website. The quality of links is much more important.
- Anchor Keyword: The keyword that the website uses to link to your website may also affect the search engine juice that is passed to your website. However, if a number of links link with the same keyword to your website, Google might find it unnatural and spammy and you might get a penalty.
- Dofollow Links: If you read the On Page SEO section, you might have read about the nofollow links. Basically, links that are nofollow tells the search engine that you do not trust the link and does not want to provide authority to the link. So, make sure if you are buying a link on a high quality blog, it is not nofollow. A dofollow link is a link that doesnt have a rel=”nofollow” attribute.
- Distribution of Links: Always make sure that your links are distributed among various websites. You must have both nofollow and dofollow links. If google finds anything unnatural, get ready to be penalized.
- Social Signals: The more your website is shared on social networks, the better it ranks. Google tracks everything. Make sure your links are shared on social networks like facebook, twitter, reddit etc.
Always keep in mind that all the information listed above is assumed and based on research. You may or may not rank for the keyword you wanted but you will surely rank for some keywords you didnt think about. Some other factors that google uses to rank a website are:
- CTR in Search Results: Once your website starts appearing in the search engine, google keeps count on how many times it appeared with other search results and how many times it got clicked. The more the CTR, the better. To improve the CTR, you can improve your meta descriptions.
- Bounce Rate: Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors that visited your website and didnt navigate or browse any other page on your website.
- Demographics: Google also makes sure that the correct demographic audience sees the correct result. So, if you are asia based, you will have a tougher time ranking in US than those that are US based.
- Low quality links: If you have low quality links pointing to your website, you will lose your rankings. Google recently launched the disavow link tool that allows you to disavow links that are low quality. You can access the google disavow tool from google webmaster tools.
That pretty much wraps everything I know about Search Engine Optimization. There are tons of tools that can help you with SEO that I will tell you about in my upcoming posts. So make sure you subscribe to the blog using the form given in the sidebar.