What does Search Engine Optimization do? In a nutshell Google tells its own people that SEO is the main determining factor for two things:
Enabling people to find websites relevant to what they are searching for.
Making a website accessible to Google for crawling and indexing.
As Google is the major search engine it makes sense to listen to what they have to say on the subject and they do in fact publish a lot of information. Webmasters and other internet marketers working with websites should pay great attention to that information.
Experts consider it to be a statement of best practice. In other words follow what Google wants and you will stand a better chance of achieving whatever your online objectives are. Fail to satisfy Google’s requirements and you will never achieve online success.
The best practice requirements are often thought to be complex even for experts so it is helpful to sift through them and re-state them in a way that online marketers can quickly and easily understand.
Keep one thing in mind. When you are planning and building your web pages good SEO is the way to satisfy the two things listed above. Therefore giving Google what it wants will immediately lift your website above all the others where people have not understood SEO or have chosen to ignore it.
That will not be a magical way to get on page one of Google’s listings. It really is more complex than that so let’s consider some basic but very important aspects of the best practice.
There is good reason for Google’s preferred SEO. They are in business to make money and by giving their search customers, people who search for web pages, the best possible online experience the more money they will make. They will retain their prime position in the list of search engines and their other customers, the advertisers, will pay higher fees to get on Google than they will to advertise on another search engine.
The first part of SEO is often overlooked by marketers who are too focused on trying to find ways to get round Google. They concentrate on what they think are the technical components but in reality Google’s main concern is to ensure their search customers have a good online experience. So, make certain your website contains good information that is relevant to whatever subject you are writing about. That way Google will know their customers will have a good experience because they will find information relevant to their search query.
Get your content right then move on to the technical parts of Search Engine Optimization
Google’s basic requirements are standard for all websites regardless of subject, size, nationality, the type of market you are aiming for or any other variable. The most prominent are:
1. Don’t ever copy anything from another website. Search engines recognize material that occurs in more than one place and refuse to consider any page containing material too similar to another page that has a better ranking. In other words if you find a great piece of advice on dieting on a website of a top nutrition company and you copy it then Google will not rank your page because the original source already has a higher rank.
2. Make certain that every page on your website has a page title. You will find it in the <title> tag of the html source code. Titles should be unique to each page so don’t waste a SEO opportunity by using the same title such as your website name on all pages. Use a name that describes the page and includes keywords.
3. Every page also has a description meta tag in the source code where you should put a brief description or summary of what the page is about. That helps search engines to decide whether the page is relevant to a customer’s search query.
4. Use well structured URLs. Right across the internet you can see URLs that are long and confusing. They mean nothing to anybody searching for information and they make the search engine process of crawling more difficult so the pages are not ranked as high as they might otherwise be.
Using this type of complex URL is also a lost opportunity. Good, descriptive URLs that are well structured with website information, subject categories and page details in a way that a reader can understand not only help the crawling process but, more importantly, they bring people to your pages. Try to use descriptive words rather than numbers in URLs.
A good URL enables the customer to make a decision whether or not to click on it rather than having to either go to the site or simply find an alternative supplier.
5. Avoid having more than one URL to get to any individual page. Sometimes people have various URLs such as with “www” and without it. That simply causes search engines to split the ranking between the different URLs so your page never achieves a higher ranking.
On-page and off-page
In general Google and other search engines are very competent at searching websites. Although your on-page SEO will assist the crawling process your main concern should be to make things easy for your customers
What has been covered here is just one part of SEO. It has concentrated on the on-page SEO but, as indicated above, SEO is a complex subject and also involves off-page SEO. However, get your on-page SEO right and you will be well on your way to satisfying Google. That means they and other search engines will be able to crawl your website easily and their search customers will be able to find anything they are interested in on your website.
Very often you will find that improving your SEO will mean making small changes rather than drastic alterations to a website. Over time you may make a series of small improvements which taken together will amount to a vast improvement in Google’s eyes. That also means your web pages will rank better in other search engines as well.
The on-page SEO described here is just the start of a complex subject but it is a very important place to begin. Get these basic improvements on every page and you will have a solid base on which to build more complex aspects of both on-page and off-page SEO. Make your first objective to give your customers a good experience and your reward will be that you make money online if that is what you want.