Have you ever tried to search for one of your own pages on Google but cannot find it on the search engine results page (SERP)? There are plenty of factors that could influence Google’s rankings and algorithms used when listing sites in a particular order for search queries, but the main issue could be your site’s lack of search engine optimization (SEO) tactics employed.
This article will clearly explain what search engine optimization is, why it’s important and the best practices for optimizing your website to the highest ranking on SERPs.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, according to Google, the process of making your site better for search engines. Speaking of Google…
You should only consider Google as a search engine when creating SEO strategies.
Sure, there are plenty of other search engines out there, such as Yahoo or Bing, but Google and its properties (including Images, Maps and YouTube) account for over 90% of all web searches. Therefore, despite other search engines having their own set of optimization algorithms, using and understanding Google’s platform for building your site’s popularity is the clear way to go.
Why is SEO Important?
If your website is not optimized for search engines then you can pretty much forget about getting any sort of traffic towards your site. While you may be able to pay for advertising or use social media channels to attract users to your site, search engines are by far the best way to drive traffic towards your site. Using SEO tactics requires no money to be spent and can still make your site appear very highly in search rankings.
Plus, as long as you continue to update your site, it will remain relevant to Google and will continue to stay on top of search rankings.
How to use SEO To Your Website’s Advantage
There is a three-step process Google uses to scan through your website and decide where it will be placed on its SERPs. According to Moz, the three steps Google uses to go through websites are Crawling, Indexing and Ranking.
Crawling is the process of search engines sending out “robots” to discover your page. As long as your page is functional, it will be added to its index. One easy way to check and see if your page is in Google’s index is by typing your domain name next to “site:” in the search bar, as you see in the above image. Google will spit out all of the pages on your site that is currently in its index. If you see your page, then congratulations, your page was crawled successfully.
If your site was not crawled by Google, there are a few reasons that can contribute to this, including Google receiving an error when crawling, your site specifically blocking Google from crawling, or maybe you just launched your site and Google has not had the time to crawl it yet.
Believe it or not, most of this step was already described in the crawling section. In short, indexing is the act of search engines storing your site on their index. When this happens, your site is now capable of becoming ranked in SERPs.
You can also tell search engines to ignore your page entirely by including a “noindex” attribute on the meta tag of your code. This will render your webpage invisible to search engines and will thus not appear on any searches whatsoever. While this is a huge no-no for your main page (especially if you’re trying to drive more traffic towards your site), you can choose to add this tag to more specific pages that do not necessarily need to be searched.
The final step in the process of verifying websites is ranking them. This is where Google actually takes all the websites related to a search query and ranks them based on how relevant and helpful your site seems towards the search query. The two most important factors that determine how highly a site gets ranked is through links and content.
Links have been important since SEO began. The more high quality links you earn, the higher your website will appear on search engine result pages. By being quite reliable and providing helpful content and information, more sites will link to your website which will tell Google that people are finding your site helpful.
Aside from links, having a respectable level of quality in your content will make it more attractive for users and easier for search engines to place higher on SERPs. Using relevant keywords in your titles or descriptions can inform Google on what your page is about and whether or not it fits the requirements to rank high for a particular query. As you can see in the image above, my own YouTube video is ranked number one for the search query “Mario Kart Ultimate.” I have a short and relevant title, important keywords in my description, and a clean and attractive thumbnail. It is a 23 minute video that parodies an official Nintendo presentation. It is very entertaining and provides the searchers with exactly what they are looking for. I would recommend giving it a watch if you are interested.
The bottom line is, if you make quality content that users find helpful, it will create a chain reaction of credible sites linking to your content, which in turn helps your website rank higher on SERPs.
Good SEO Tactics vs. Bad SEO Tactics
The previous section described a few ways you can improve your SEO. These methods are called organic SEO or white hat SEO. White hat SEO includes tactics that are made specifically to aid the user and to give them the best experience possible. It focuses on making content easy to read and navigate while resulting in organically appearing high in search results.
On the other hand, black hat SEO involves ethically questionable tactics that cause your site to appear at the top of search results. This involves paying money or creating loopholes to artificially gain traction to your site, such as creating many false pages that link to your website. This approach only focuses on getting high on the SERPs and does not take the user into consideration. This is proved by the webpage usually being very complicated, hard to read, and often appearing as spam or as a virus. Black hat SEO does not benefit your business in the long run, and is thus not recommended.
Overall, there are many things to take into consideration when deciding how to optimize your site for SEO. Using organic tactics and making your site easy to follow and navigate by both users and search engines will guarantee success for both your website and your business.