What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization, SEO for short, is making your website search-friendly (easily read by the search engines) while providing a valuable resource packed with unique content about your products or services. The more credible, resourceful and relevant your site is, the higher it will appear in the organic or natural (unpaid) search results!
Did you know that according to Advanced Web Ranking, the top 5 sites that appear on a search engine results page (SERP) get about 67.6% of the clicks? Results for the 6th-10th positions get another 3.73% – and pages 2 and 3 of the SERPs only get about 5.59% of the clicks?
There are many ranking factors to consider, but SEO (search engine optimization) is a BIG one. If your website is not search-friendly or optimized, it will be more difficult for your site to rank high on the SERPs. Although there is no guarantee your site will ever rank on page one of Google, the chances are greatly improved with website optimization.
What Affects SEO?
There are many factors that go into search engine optimization, but let’s start with some of the basics.
One URL to Call Home
Did you know that if different urls like www.domain.com, domain.com, www.domain.com/index.php, for example, all resolve with the same pages (content), it’s like having multiple websites and “duplicate content” – which is bad for SEO? The reason this hurts SEO is that the domains themselves have a value – and that value is then split between all urls resolving to the same content.
All variations of your site’s url should resolve (or be 301 redirected) to the url that search engines find most relevant.
Each page of your website should have it’s own unique title (title tags, h1 tags) – so the search engines and your visitors have a clear understanding what each page is about. If your website is clearly planned out and organized, it will be much easier for the search engines to ‘read’ them correctly and determine if they are relevant to a given search.
Content is King
Offering unique and useful content on your site will help your end-users/visitors find the answers they are looking for – and will show the search engines that you are an authority – and therefore, more relevant. Being relevant improves rankings – as Google’s goal is to serve its users with the most relevant information matching their queries. A minimum of 350 (relevant) words per page is desired – no fluff – just good, quality content. Content is a huge component of SEO.
Clean or Pretty URL Structure
Using www.yourdomain.com/girls-winter-sweaters, as opposed to www.domain.com/?p=59745 (easier to read and remember) is highly recommended. It keywords in the url tell the search engines and the user that the page is about — and also make it easier to remember or share.
An XML Sitemap
An xml sitemap is a list of all of your pages’ urls that you submit to the search engines as a request to index. This means you are requesting the pages are recognized and can now show up in SERPs.
You should also use robot.txt to request that certain pages NOT be indexed (such as your login to the backend of your site – /wp-admin, your site’s terms and conditions, /thank-you, etc.).
How quickly the pages of your site load for viewing is also a ranking factor. Research has shown that many potential visitors will back out if the page takes too long to load. You can run a page speed test on your own here: Google Page Speed Test. This will tell you what needs to be optimized to increase load speed.
There are many other factors to consider when optimizing a website for search engines. External and internal linking, referral links, mobile and tablet compatibility / responsive websites also aid in higher rankings with SEO.
For those who ‘promise’ first page results, beware. Efforts to manipulate higher search results (spammy links, etc.) will likely result in a penalty from Google, potentially knocking you down or out of the SERPs completely. AGameSM will follow known best practices (white hat) to make sure your site is optimized without penalty.
SEO is a lengthy process and takes time to see results. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience is important but the results are longer lasting. For faster results and exposure on the first page of the SERPs, PPC (pay-per-click) marketing and SMM (Social Media Marketing) is recommended. For best results, utilize all methods together.