What is SEO?
Simply put, SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimisation", which is commonly referred to as the process of receiving 'organic' or 'natural' traffic through search engines. SEO service providers help to ensure a site is accessible to search engines, including optimising a number of factors that have a direct correlation to the way sites are listed in search engine results.
There are a number of factors that have a significant impact on the
way websites rank for certain keywords. These can be categorised into two main groups; on-page and off-page factors.
On-Page Ranking Factors
On-Page ranking factors are the aspects of a webpage that have a direct influence on its search engine ranking.
The content of the page determines whether it is worthy of being displayed in search engine results. Popular search engines have sophisticated ways of determining whether a site's content is credible, and whether it warrants being placed higher in search than other sites competing for the same keyword.
Good original content is at the heart of any great SEO strategy for two reasons; it supplies a demand for requested information, and the content is highly linkable to other sites. It's important to note that without quality content, there is limited opportunity for a site to achieve first-page rankings, as popular search engines place a large weight on the number of quality backlinks a site has.
To ensure a site is optimised for search engines, the following factors should be addressed as part of an overall strategy:
- Title page - Include subject in page title
- URL - Include subject in URL
- Keywords - Specify keywords several times through text content
- Image alt text - Ensure sufficient alt text for all images
- Content - Provide unique and/or original content
- Usability - Ensure website content is easy to navigate
Each individual factor has a specific weight or importance; therefore it is important to address all aspects concurrently to ensure site content is optimised for search engines and to promote better overall rankings.
Off-Page Ranking Factors
Off-Page ranking factors are the elements surrounding a site that cannot be directly controlled. The biggest impact to search rankings involves the number of links to your site from related and/or credible online resources. The more links from highly ranked websites, the higher a site will rank in search engine results. Each credible backlink creates link juice (yes, it's a real term), which can be described as a factor that correlates to the overall credibility of a site.
There are several factors to consider when carrying out a link building strategy, to ensure links don't potentially harm the overall credibility a site. Building a diverse portfolio of links can have favourable results, however it's recommended to target industry-related sites.
Avoid paid link sites like the plague. As discussed in previous blog entries, paid link schemes have been in the cross hairs of Google's Webspam team for quite some time, and penalties are issued to offending sites to ensure they do not receive favourable rankings. The best practice for any site is to control the amount of inbound links through careful and frequent analysis. That way you're able to determine which sites are having a negative impact on your site to take the appropriate action to remove bad links.
So, as you can see, SEO isn't something a magical pill or some cheap software will fix for you; it involves hours and hours of effort and clever planning. There are plenty of resources out there available for those who want to research further (watch out though; there's also plenty of disinformation), or if you're short on time, contact us and let's chat about what we can do for your organisation.