In today’s digital world, we can’t imagine finding the things we need without first checking on Google. For everything from restaurants to real estate agents, we turn to search engines to get all kinds of vital information.
Here, SEO plays a critical role to the end users by giving the most relevant results and to the website owners, SEO help provide top rankings in search engines.
But, have you ever wondered how those results get there? Or why some websites and businesses are high up on the first page of results, while others are buried back on page 46? And as a business owner with a website, don’t you want your company to show up first when someone is searching for your product or service?
The answer you’ve been looking for is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. And the hard truth is, Search Engine Optimization is the lifeblood of your company online.
Don’t believe it? Consider this: over 60% of people who use a search engine do not look past the first page of results.
Now, Google your product or service. How many results are there? As an example, try “Golf clubs London”. There are 715,000 results – and only 14 on the first page. It’s a guarantee that those 14 businesses have used Search Engine Optimization. But how does it work?
Google, Yahoo!, Bing and other search engines use “spiders” to “crawl” the web, looking for the content on Internet websites. Using the data they collect, the search engine’s algorithm then places each website into a kind of category, so that it shows up on search results when people type in that data, in the form of keywords.
This method is why when you type in “Golf clubs London” you don’t get results for pet grooming businesses or medical labs. But, it’s not as easy as simply putting a bunch of words that have to do with your business on your website. As with all technology, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Search engine algorithms have gotten really, really smart. The “spiders” know to look for certain things that may or may not make the website eligible to be included in search results.
One thing they look at is context. For example, let’s take this web page you’re reading right now. As you’ve already seen, we’ve included the term “Golf clubs London” several times. But obviously, someone looking to purchase golf clubs in London is not going to find this page very useful!
Search engines take a look at the content and context of this article, as well as all the other pages on this website, and determine that it’s not about sport, but about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It will therefore put our website into the correct category, saving golfers the inconvenience of weeding out extraneous results themselves.
Not so fast – this is called keyword stuffing, and it’s something else that search engines look for when assessing a website. You see, if a website has too high a percentage of any given keyword, it will be rejected by the search engine. That’s why it’s called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and not Search Engine Maximization.
Now, you may think you can game the system by simply having a website that consists of nothing else but your keywords. After all, if you have them on your website 500 times and other sites only have them 100 times, that has to count for something, right?
And this is where Search Engine Optimization gets tricky. You need to hit a “sweet spot” of a certain percentage of keywords, so that it will recognize your site as belonging to a certain category – but if you go overboard, search engines will manually remove your site from search results, and no one will ever find it.
Not to toot our own horns here, but SEO really is something that should be left to professionals. Writing about your business may seem easy – after all, you know a lot about it and you’re enthusiastic – but these and so many more factors go into Search Engine Optimization that it can be all too easy to slip up – and that can affect your bottom line.
The most common mistake we’ve seen among our clients is when they understand SEO, and they get excited about it – but they forget that actual people, potential customers, are the main target. You can have all the keywords in there, at the correct percentage and in context – but your website copy still has to make sense, engage the reader, and have a strong call to action.
There are also other ways to optimize search engine rankings, and they’re no secret – but they do take up a lot of valuable time during which you could be running your business. Do you want to spend your time leaving thoughtful comments on blogs, linking your site to others, updating social media, keeping your website active with a Search Engine Optimized blog, and other tricks of the trade?