Companies in pre-internet era have depended on marketing avenues such as fliers, local classifieds in newspapers and magazines, radio, television ads etc. But soon internet took over pretty much every such traditional avenue of advertising, companies and other organizations have quickly turned to the power of the internet and its benefits such as reaching out to their global audience, especially their potential customers.
But at the same time, the internet being relatively a newer tool for companies to reach out their customers, using it has been a challenging task in early times of internet. Companies such as Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos, AOL etc., have emerged as leaders in internet search engines and platforms for companies to advertise and attract customers.
But in late 90’s and early 2000’s companies such as Google, Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo still hanging in there in search engine business, have faced tremendous competition from each other for the dominance and Google stood out quickly and became the leader in the internet search business with the use of their powerful search algorithms. According to Net Market Share as of 2017, the biggest search engine market share favors Google with 77.43%, followed by Baidu, Bing, Yahoo and others all less than 10%. With such a dominance, Google quickly became the de-facto for internet search engine domain.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimization is a technique used by the websites to grow their visibility in the search engine results to drive internet traffic. It includes technical aspects on how to improve the search rankings when users search using certain keywords. So, what is a keyword? A keyword is any word or a phrase used to search something on the internet. Website use keywords to optimize the search results. Search engines are smart, they scrape through the internet but these engines need some extra help from the websites, which are nothing but the keywords the website builders use for optimization. A web tool such as SEOBook can help find keywords other websites use for their optimization, an easy way to get the keywords used by others.
Paid and Unpaid search results
Most search results on a Google search result page are unpaid results, meaning websites using the appropriate keywords with high ranking get top spot and results page. Google also offers a paid service calls Google AdWords. This needs an AdWords account, once signed, gives tools to lookup mostly searched words or phrases, using which websites can optimize their own content. Google search results page displays paid links, for which Google’s customers pay for click counts they receive. So, not only through SEO but a paid service is also available for a small fee.
How Google picks keywords
Google needs keywords specified on web pages. These keywords need to be visible to the user when clicked on the page. If no keywords are specified, Google has no way to find the web page. The best of way having keywords on the page is have them appear naturally, meaning based on the page title and content. Have these keywords appear two or three times, so that Google understands these words are relevant to the page content.
Following are the some of the areas keywords can be used in.
Headings such as H1, H2 tags
Meta tags such as description and title
Navigation anchor text and title tags
Bolded and italicized textbooks
Resources such as image and video titles
Of course the content text
High-quality and relevant links are stronger than that of low-quality and irreverent links. It is not going to help if a ton of links are created overnight, these links need to be built organically over a period of time. Age of the links matter. So it is a bad idea to fool the system by creating links by other means. One thing to avoid is to have broken links on the website. Search engines can not crawl further if it finds broken links and thus ends up giving poor ranks. Links from charities or non-profit organizations help a lot. Links from Better Business Bureau are best. Signing up with them is a great way of gaining good links.
Links from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ help a lot, although Google says officially they do not use social signals in their rankings algorithms. Signing up on such websites and linking back the website helps businesses in a great way. Search engines look for social media posts and backlinks from social media posts back to the website. This helps businesses to increase referral traffic and customer engagement.
One social network website stands out from others is Google+, which is Google’s answer to other popular social networking sites. Google+ plays a larger role in rankings factors, so companies to improve their rankings, need to expand their presence on Google+ and backlink their websites from those posts. This helps in two ways, one is for greater rankings and another is to develop customer base on this site. To sign-up go to https://plus.google.com.
As more and more social networking websites got popular with huge user base, Google started making these activities as strong factors in their algorithms.
Google Analytics is a platform used by most of the websites. It is a decent, free to use, readily available web analytics tool available for businesses. To get started, sign in at http://www.google.com/analytics. Google Analytics provides various types of analytics data but a couple of important ones to note are comparing two date ranges and looking at the analytics charts over a long period of time. Acquisition section of Google Analytics tells about where the site traffic is coming from. Organic search report gives information about how many times website received visitors from search engine. One can also see data about page views, bounce rates, conversion rates etc.
SEO for local businesses
Google not only provides search results for the keywords searched but also displays links to related local businesses. Studies show that four out of five users search local information, half of the users who searched local businesses have visited local stores within a day and about 18% of local searches lead to purchases within a day. Both traditional and local SEO can be used to potentially increase the web traffic to businesses.
So, how is local SEO different from the traditional SEO? The answer is several mentions of local businesses within the search proximity, some of the mentions like physical address and phone numbers, properly identifying businesses on Google, the authority of citations, Google My Business category association etc. For a complete list of local SEO ranking factors visit Moz’s local SEO site at https://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors.
SEO Problems and fixes
As more companies choose to offer self-administrative tools and interfaces, traditional level of customer support services keeps going down. Google is no exception. Google designs tools so user-friendly and self-explanatory, most of the times users do not need support calls. But dealing with SEO could be frustrating at times and Google’s customer support is something hard to reach in other words barely exist. Following are some of the common problems that are encountered and their resolutions.
It could happen that your website is not listed in Google at all. This happens typically when a website is launched for the first time. Google does take time to crawl to this new website. Sometimes it could take a few days after the launch. A quick check would be to do a Google search like “site:newsitename.ext”, if Google does not return this new site, means Google spider hasn’t crawled to this site yet. A quick fix would be to tell Google explicitly that your new site came into existence by generating a handful of links to the site in social networking sites.
What if your site rankings have fallen and you no longer see your site link on the first page of search results? The truth is top rankings are not going to stay there forever. Both existing and new sites are always competing for the top rankings. So it is the duty of the webmasters to always find and fine tune SEO problems. One reason could be, your site competitors have implemented more SEO techniques than you and its time to work on your site’s SEO improvements. Log on the Google console and other SEO consoles to see if Google penalized your site and look up for remedies on Penguin or Panda updates. Remove any shady links from other sites that you may have over posted or used any link posting services. Google algorithms are smart enough these days to identify where a link is a natural one or not.
If none of these techniques work, it is time to take help of professional help either for free or paid. There are a ton of internet experts available to answer very technical questions for free, if questions are posted are posted properly and on right websites. Stackoverflow.com, stackexchange.com, quora.com, ask.com, moz.com and other SEO Q&A forums are there for your rescue. A simple Google search itself will lead you to the right forum for help. If none of these free sources help with your situation, there are always sources available for a small fee to look into your issues.
Clarke, A. SEO 2017: learn search engine optimization with smart Internet marketing strategies. United States: Simple Effectiveness Publishing
The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2017, from https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
Desktop Search Engine Market Share. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2017, from https://netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0