Are you considering the different search engines when building your website? Learn about some of the basics of SEO and how you can begin to improve the search rankings of your site.
Even if you’ve reached the point of having your “perfect” website, what good does it do if no one can find it? How can you crack the code on how to appear at the top of Google’s search results?
The answer is far from simple. Even if we dedicated the next month’s worth of posts to just SEO we still wouldn’t be able to solve every SEO mystery and answer every webmaster’s questions out there. We can however introduce you to the basics of SEO and give you a couple of tips to get you started.
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, or Search Engine Optimizer if referring to a person that specializes in SEO. The main objective of SEO is to help your site receive higher amounts of traffic. This is generally done by increasing the chances of your website getting to the top of search engine results, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. When done correctly, SEO helps these popular search engines find and display your sites to a potential audience.
We should note that SEO is also about improving your visitor’s experience. You should never focus on creating a site that only caters to a search engine’s requirements. Instead, you should design and build a site that will keep your visitors engaged and get displayed at the top of search engines. These two aspects of web management go hand-in-hand.
Dedicated SEO firms specialize in helping their clients improve their search engine results. However, with dedication and a little bit of practice, anyone can grasp the basics of SEO and be on their way to improving their site’s performance.
Building An Index
Search engines such as Google and Bing need a way to create connections between websites. These connections are made using automated robots called “crawlers” or “spiders”. Crawlers branch out to millions of websites using available links. Once these connections have been made, the search engine can analyze and dissect each site in order to display the most accurate result for your search. This is often referred to as the ‘algorithm’. Confused? Watch this quick video from Google to clear things up:
SEO-friendly Web Design
To build an index that allows crawlers to go from link to link, consider breaking up large pieces of content into separate but linkable pages. Make sure that you use HTML for your most important content. Search engines will generally overlook images, flash files and java applets. Don’t expect your photos to improve your SEO results.
When you do have images on your site, it’s important to write a descriptive tagline in the HTML document. Here’s how it looks in the code:
<img src=”server.png” alt=”Web server”>
Adding this description in the alt text is what improves SEO, not the actual image. If you forget about the HTML code, forget about a high ranking with search engines.
Although links are important, avoid having too many. Crawlers will only go through so many links, and having too many will make your site look like spam and it may be overlooked.
Want more information on design and development? Refer to this beginner’s guide.
Creating Relevant Content
Search engines don’t want to fill the user’s results page with garbage. In fact, they go to great lengths in order to deliver search results that will truly help the user. These major search engines favor sites that actually display relevant and accurate information.
When creating your site, write compelling content that your visitors will actually want to read. Think about what words or phrases someone would use to search in order to arrive at your site, then include those keywords. Consider your audience and write content that they will be looking for.
Creating a blog with topics relating back to your business is a great way to publish relevant content. Search engines will often rank sites higher that have recently published content. The same rule applies here: write content that is relevant to your audience, not the search engine.
Although this seems far too simple, remember that “content is king” when it comes to SEO.
Check out Google AdWords to find the perfect keywords for your business.
Allow For Engagement
Social media has greatly changed our online experience. Rather than just updating your website you also need to manage several social media platforms. Is it worth it? Coming from an SEO viewpoint, definitely.
When searching for a business on Google, have you noticed that their Facebook page or Twitter handle often times show up on the first page of results? This is a great way to help future clients find your page. Just as with your website, make sure the content on your social media platforms is relevant and interesting.
Keeping updated and valuable information on social media will lead to more shares, which in turn leads to more of your followers finding your website, which will lead to more customers.
Going More In-Depth
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, we could spend days going through the basics of SEO. If you’re wanting a more in-depth look at SEO, we suggest looking at the following resources:
Google Webmaster Course – a great introductory course that outlines the basics of SEO and how Google views webpages.
Moz.com SEO Guide For Beginners – a comprehensive guide to SEO, starting with the most basic of topics and branching out to how you an adjust the HTML code.
Midphase Blog – our sister company, Midphase, releases up-to-date information and tips on how you can improve your SEO.
Keep checking back to the WestHost blog for more articles about SEO and ideas on how you can receive more engagement from your visitors. Keep in mind that if you’re not at the top of a search engine’s rankings, your competitor is.
Our cPanel service offers SEO tools to help you achieve a higher ranking. If you’re unsure on how to access these resources, chat with our technical support today!