Search Engine Optimisation is used to improve the rankings of a website on various search engines. Search engines like Google display sites they believe are authoritative and relevant, higher up in the search results. They measure relevance by analysing page content, and they measure authority (mostly) based on the number and quality of other pages linking to the pages they show, links are like votes.SEO is important because there is a massive impact on the number of visitors that click through to your website depending on where it appears on the search engine results page. Studies have shown that the website appearing in the number one position on Google’s search results can attract anywhere between 20% and 40% of the clicks. The top three positions on the search results page attract almost 60% of the total clicks.
In the early days of SEO, search engines placed heavy weighting on the technical side of SEO. In the code behind websites, webmasters could put <META> tags listing keywords they wanted their website to show up in searches for. These days the algorithms used by search engines are much more complex, and they keywords aren’t taken from these <META> tags anymore. Nevertheless, there are still many technical errors that can be made which may stop your website from being indexed or ranking highly by search engines.Some items, especially media rich files like images, flash files and videos cannot be read by search engines, so any information in them will not be indexed. There are certain ways around this (such as using ALT tags), but it is important to ensure that keywords and content are in plain text on the website so that they can be read by the search engines. Instead of using the old <META> keywords tags in the code of websites, search engines send out “crawlers” (also known as “spiders” or “robots”) that read the content on web pages, and scour the content of each page for keywords. Search engines like Google actually use machine learning, and these crawlers can even tell the difference between content that is relevant and has been written by a human, and a page simply created full of keywords to try and rank higher in search results. They also pay attention to the layout of the page, and will rank keywords depending on where they appear on the page, and certain things like number of links can also affect results.
Whilst the technical side of SEO is very important (after all, if the search engines can’t read your site, then nothing else matters), content is king when it comes to search engine rankings. Search engines these days are geared towards the end user and what they want, rather than just organising websites by keywords.Content needs to be well written and contain keywords and phrases that users will search for. However, due to recent Google updates (Panda and Penguin), rankings are penalised for anything that looks like it was written specifically to improve search rankings (i.e. link spamming). At the end of the day, content should be useful and relevant, and something that keeps users coming back. Regular updates are important for SEO as well. Search algorithms like “FreshRank” test to see how recent/up-to-date the contents of the page are, and will rank more recently updated pages higher (depending on the topic). Blog posts are a good way to keep content updated on a regular basis.
In addition to content (which provides the keywords for search), the ranking of pages can be affected by links to and from external websites. Google terms this “PageRank”. Each time your website is linked to by an external site, your PageRank increases. The more trust or respect a website has, the more weight their links will hold (e.g. if your website is linked to by Wikipedia or the New York Times, those links will increase your PageRank a lot more than a link from someone’s personal blog). Building links is an important part of SEO, however building the wrong links can be detrimental to your website’s ranking. If the links coming to or from your website are low-ranking or untrustworthy sites (e.g. known for spam) then your ranking on the search results will decrease.
Relevant – Content needs to be relevant to what people are looking for.Reputation – Develop a reputation for good content. This will attract links from others. Reviews/recommendations are recognised by Google!Remarkable – Stand out from the crowd. People will talk about you and link to you if you provide something that’s different to everyone else.Readability – Make it easy to digest the content (both for customers and crawlers).Reach – What reach am I trying to achieve? You can have a niche market, but make sure that you aren’t excluding too many potential customers.Research
WHAT IS SEO?• Methods to improve the ranking of a website on search engine results pages.• Pages that are authoritative and relevant rank higher up in the search results.• Relevance measured by page content.• Authority measured by number and quality of links.• Top 3 listings on the search engine results page attract 60% of click-through.
TECHNICAL• Originally, search engines relied on webmasters’ submissions and keywords.• Technical issues may prevent the website from being indexed or result in lower search ranking.• Media-rich files (images, movies etc) cannot be read by search engines.• Keywords should be in plain text within the content.• Crawlers can tell the difference between relevant content and keyword stuffing.
CONTENT• Content is king when it comes to search rankings.• Search engines are geared towards providing the end-user with what they want.• Should be well written (spelling, grammar) and provide value to the end-user.• Relevant content keeps users coming back.• Fresh/updated content will improve search rankings and give people a reason to visit regularly.• Blog posts are a good way to keep content fresh.
TRUST• Search engines use links to assess trustworthiness.• Links to your website from other trusted websites will increase your search ranking.• Links can also work against you if they are from untrustworthy sources.
THE FIVE R’S OF SEO Relevant Reputation Remarkable Readability Reach• Content • Develop a • Stand out • Make it • Explore needs to reputation from the easy to niches, but be for good crowd. digest the don’t relevant to content. Provide content exclude what something (for potential people are unique. customers customers. looking for. and crawlers).
GOOGLE PANDA UPDATE• Released February 24th, 2011• Penalised low quality websites.• Uses machine learning to assess which websites are low quality.• Websites that had thin content or were copied from other websites.• Site-wide penalty.• Has gone through 15 versions so far.
GOOGLE PENGUIN UPDATE• Released April 24, 2012.• Targeting “webspam” used to influence SEO results.• Keyword stuffing, exact match anchor text etc.• Black-hat SEO techniques being penalised.• Currently version 1.1