What is SEO – Search Engine Optimization?
SEO is a digital marketing term that stands for “search engine optimization.” The term is defined as the practice or process of earning free traffic from the non-paid section of search results on search engines.
If you are at all familiar with the internet, you likely use a search engine daily. Major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing are all popular choices for users who are searching for information. When a search is performed, these search engines have an algorithm that determines what content to list on their search engine results page (SERPs). Search engines don’t only display web page content. They might also display videos, images, local business results, or other types of media within a search result page.
A Quick Introduction to SEO
If you’re new to SEO the following video is a good introduction. It will help give you a basic understanding of search engine optimization.
Some of the most basic principles that the video covers include:
- Words in content are important to search engines.
- The title of each page on your website matters to a search engine
- Links can help. Receiving a good link from another website is similar to a vote of confidence for your site. But not all links have the same voting value.
- Words in links help Google understand what your site is about.
- Reputation can help. Sites with a consistent growing index of fresh content and new links might do well in a search engine’s algorithm.
Building Your Understanding
Now that you have a better understanding of the basics of SEO, let’s take a deeper dive into more in-depth knowledge. SEO can be broken down into two broad categories. On-page factors and off-page factors. On-page factors are optimizations that can be made to your website pages, while off-page factors are elements influenced by readers, visitors, and other publications.
On-Page Factors Explained
When examining on-page factors, there are three categories under which your optimizations might fall: Content, Architecture, or HTML. While these can all be good factors to consider, keep in mind that not all of these factors are given the same weight in a search engine algorithm.
- Quality – How well written are the pages? Is there enough content to be relevant to the topic? Does the article answer all of the questions a reader might have?
- Keyword Research – Have you researched all the different keywords that are relevant to your topic? Does it make sense to include all of them in a single page or should content be broken up into multiple page topics?
- Keyword Use – Does each page on your site use words for which you’d like to rank? Are keywords overused or underused within the content?
- Fresh – Is the content up-to-date? Does it need new information added?
- Media – Are you using a variety of different media for your audience? Does a page offer video, images, infographics?
- Answers – Is your content geared to direct answers within search results?
- Local – Does your content have a local focus? Are you including proper local content such as the business Name, Address, and Phone (NAP)?
- Crawlability – Can a search engine crawl and index your site easily? Are there any web-pages that you can find by browsing the normal architecture of the site?
- Mobile/Responsive – How well does your site work on a mobile device? Can a user easily navigate pages?
- Duplicate – How well does your site manage duplicate content issues?
- Speed – When you visit your site, how quickly does it load? Would you wait that long if you were a visitor?
- URLs – Are URLs obvious as to the page topic? Are they short and concise? Do they contain the appropriate keywords?
- HTTPS – Does your site providing a secure connection for visitors?
- Cloaking – Are humans seeing the same pages as search engines?
- Meta Title – Does the title tag include relevant keywords and offer a compelling call to action?
- Meta Description Tag – How well written is your Meta description? Does it clearly state what the page is about?
- Structure Markup – If you haven’t heard of Schema.org, be sure to learn more about this markup language. Every page should use structured markup when appropriate.
- Headers – Does your site include headers and sub-headers to break up content? Are you including keywords in your headers?
- Stuffing – Are keywords being used excessively within the content?
- Hidden – Are your developers hiding words that you want to rank for? This can be a red flag for search engines.
Off-Page Factors Explained
Just like on-page ranking factors, there are a number of off-page ranking factors to which you will also want to pay close attention. When browsing the guide below, keep in mind that while all factors might be important, some may carry more weight than others.
- Authority – Links, shares on social media, and other factors may help to make a page a trusted authority.
- Engagement – How long does a user stay? Do they quickly “bounce” back to where they came from or do they spend time consuming content?
- History – Has the site been around for a long time? How old is a particular page?
- Privacy – Has the website ever been penalized for having pirated content?
- Ads – How many ads are on the site? Would you consider it to be ad heavy?
- Quality – How trusted are the links to your website? Are they from respected websites?
- Anchor Text – What words are your links using to point back to your website? Does it use words you’d like to be known for/rank for?
- Number – How many links point to your site?
- Time – How quickly do you receive links? Are you consistently receiving new links?
- Paid – Are any of your links paid for? Did you nofollow paid links in accordance with Google’s guidelines?
- Spam – Are you links created by spamming forums, blog comments or similar sources?
- Country – Do you receive overseas visitors?
- Locality – What city/area are visitors located in?
- History – Do people revisit your site often?
- Reputation – Do social media influencers share your content?
- Shares – How many shares does your content receive on social media networks?
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