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What is SEO?

SEO or search engine optimisation is a process of adapting your web pages to make them more "findable" by the search engines and to help your page appear towards the top of the search results, so in turn "findable" by your potential customers.

Getting SEO right

How search engines work

A search engine will crawl the web and collect data on every page it can find. When you perform a search for a word or phrase with them two stages occur (albeit very quickly).

First they pull together from their database all pages that match your search term. Next they rank those pages according to what they think is a best match for your term.

These results are then presented to you with the best match first - in their view. These results are know as the organic search rankings.

So for example if you perform a search with Google for "website evaluation" you will see a message:

About 199,000,000 results (0.22 seconds) 

I am not going to look at all those results however I am likely to consider clicking on those that appear on the first page and maybe the second. In which case only those pages in the first twenty sites stand a chance of getting my click and a visit to their site.

SEO is therefore about getting found as a possible match for a suitable search term that matches your product or service (one that you potential customer is likely to use) then ranking well for that term so that you appear higher up in the results - preferably the first page, which will get most of the clicks.

SEO is therefore about getting found as a possible match for a suitable search term with any search engine that matches your product or service (one that you potential customer is likely to use) then ranking well for that term so that you appear higher up in the search engine results pages (SERP's) - preferably the first page, which will get most of the clicks.

Search engine objectives

Search engines want to surface the best possible content for their users and to do this employ complex algorithms to establish how a page ranks which involve several hundred different elements. These are constantly changing and under review as they seek to improve how they perform. Some elements are more important than others.

Another concept to add into the mix is site or page authority. Each site that links to you will be considered a vote, recommendation or an endorsement of your page - this will contribute to a better ranking. However not all votes are equal, highly rated authoritative sites such as large institutions or reputable sources such as Wikkipedia contribute more credibility to your page and the reverse is also true where links and connections from very lowly sites or "bad neighbourhoods" such as a spammy paid listing or purchased links can have a negative effect.

To optimise your page or site for the major search engines you need to match those parts of the search algorithm that carry the most weight and impact for your ranking. Get it right you can drive high volume traffic - get it wrong and you content can remain hidden with little or no visibility.

 
On page SEO success factors:

Content: Quality, words used, freshness
HTML: Page titles, Descriptions, Headings (H1,2,3, etc.)
Site architecture: Crawler access, Duplicate pages, Site speed

Off page SEO success factors: :

Links: Quality (page authority), text used in the link, volume
Trust:
Authorityof refering site,, site history (Age helps)
Social: Reputation, social shares
Personal: Country and locality (where the user is based), user history

Penalty SEO success factors:

Paid links
Cloaking or hidden content
Spam
Thin content

Just getting one of these search engine optimisation factors right will not deliver first page search engine rankings. For example getting the HTML title right is no advantage if you page has poor quality content. Lots of links will not help either if they are from poor quality sources. Search engine optimisation success will come from as many factors as possible making a positive contribution. Penalty factors will of course wipe out any positive gains.

As search engines get increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to deliver quality matches, content providers (site owners) need to focus more on quality (both links and content) and positive social signals from their visitors. If you are looking at how well your site is doing in this area start with what you users are interested in and match that with the search terms or keywords they are likely to use. Do your keyword research and use it when you create your content. From that base create quality content optimised around the most important success factors and you will be on your way to good search engine rankings and increased traffic

For this post I have used the Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors which does a great job of simplifying a complex topic. More here >>You can also read more on the topic in the Moz Beginners guide to SEO

Most of your traffic will come from Google so it is important to use the tools they provide such as Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics however they are only one of the major search engines. You should also engage with Yahoo and Bing and their webmaster sections. Whatever search engine you look at getting the basic SEO success factors right will improve your organic search rankings.

If you would like to find out more on creating quality content that will appeal to search engines have a look here for some good suggestions >.>

Getting your SEO strategy right can be a major task.........

Helping you to get your SEO right

If you think that your SEO could improve or you would like some extra affordable support in creating a SEO strategy or plan, producing content that ranks well or would like a review of SEO on your web pages why not get in touch?

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