The advent of the search engine can be traced back to the beginning of the 90’s. Before Google appeared, there were quite a few websites out there trying to guide us through a growing landscape of sprouting new internet pages. People began to realize they could make money of their websites, thus making the need to make those sites appealing to search engines an ever-growing priority. This arising need to make websites visible and readily available to search engines gave birth to what we know as SEO today.
What is SEO and what is its main purpose?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is generally understood as the process of enhancing the visibility of a website by means of taking advantage of search engine query mechanics. The main goal of SEO is to place websites at the top spots of search results pages. This top places are called “earned”, “natural” or “organic” results; positioning websites in this area of the search results, is the outcome of an excellent SEO process.
What are “organic” results?
Organic results are the first entries that appear in a SERP (Search Engine Result Page). These sites are listed there, due to their content, text, information and general popular acceptance being more relevant than that of other pages that end up being listed further down in a search.
Organic results are not the only listings that appear at the top spots of the SERP. Here we will also find paid results; websites that “buy” positioning in a search result page and that are commonly associated with ads. Organic results differ from paid results in that they are the outcome that most closely resembles user’s queries. This is something very important to understand, because these particular users have a tendency to be qualified and quality visitors to your website. They are the people who are actually looking for your company’s products and services.
According to experts, the highest position on an organic search normally takes 40% of the total search traffic. This number is of great significance, considering search engines are the biggest sources of overall traffic web pages receive.
Is SEO then about “tricking” search engines?
The short answer would be no. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t tricks out there to get the better out of search engines. You have to understand these systems aren’t perfect and some users are especially crafty at exploiting these shortcomings and making them work to their advantage. These are exceptions and not the norm, and certainly not the only way to employ effective SEO techniques. More often than not, people who are completely unaware of what SEO even means, can be exceptionally successful at positioning their sites, simply by using common sense and making pages that place their users needs as their number one priority.
Ok, so how can I use that logic to position my website fruitfully?
You must start by correctly identifying who your target audience is, how do they search and what type of content do they find useful. This is where content marketing comes into play, since they ability to offer quality content should be your utmost priority. The amount of users you receive and their loyalty depends exclusively on quality content, and that is why you must understand and anticipate everything you can about your users so your content can be tailored to their needs.
Hmm I see, and how does one go about doing that exactly?
How is my target audience searching for me? Which words are they using exactly? The internet provides us with many tools so we can conduct our own research on this. One of the easiest ways to do it is by simply using the engines themselves. Start by writing a sentence on the bar and observe how it automatically tries to complete itself; there you have the sentences users are employing more often to search for content on that particular subject. These are clues to what your users are searching for and how they are doing it exactly. You can also find online tools that analyze the number of times a particular term is used to search in your geographical area on a monthly basis.
Your page must contain text, content and information that is relevant to the keywords you use. Don’t use keywords only to fish for results; search engines punish those tricks by dropping your page further down the SERP and making it harder for your users to find you.
Is your website friendly to the search engine? All your efforts are pointless if you forget about the fact that the search engine is the main tool that bridges your site to your users needs. Understanding how to make your content available and indexed by the search engine’s reach is paramount to succeed in SEO. Sometimes this means making pages for each one of the keyboards that you have previously investigated and that are relevant to the products and services you offer.
Last but not least. Are other sites linking to your content? Is your information respectable enough to be referenced by other content creators out there? Remember not all visitors are immediate buyers, but every visitor is a potential customer. That means that having information that is appealing and useful will draw users to your page and they could eventually lead them to becoming customers or bringing in more interested parties.