SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. Why is it so important?
We use search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc for browsing. Once we type in a topic and click on ‘Search’, the search engine returns several pages of search results. But we don’t browse through all the pages; we usually look at the first one or two. Thus every company tries to make its website appear on the first pages of search results, so that it is visited more often by potential customers. SEO is a combination of tips and tricks employed to increase a website’s visibility, i.e. its ranking in the search results, so that it appears higher up in the search list.
A website with good engaging content that captivates visitors’ attention naturally attains a higher ranking over time owing to its popularity. Such a group of practices aimed at improving a website’s popularity is called Organic SEO. This includes keyword analysis, link building and back linking, blog writing, media updates etc.
You need to do some initial research on what kind of audience you expect for your website. What are the search terms they are more likely to use? We can gather this information from databases. Once we know the most popular search terms (keywords), we need add content to our website which uses the keywords to the maximum, without affecting the quality of content. For example, let us assume you are creating a website that sells health equipment. Keyword search might return most popular searches as “How to lose belly fat” or “How to lose weight quickly”. Keywords give us an idea about what is in people’s minds, and how we can write content that interests them.
It is of course the first and important step to make a great website, but what after? How does one get people to notice it? It would be stupid to just sit there thinking people would somehow notice your website, so we need to do some advertising for it. Such advertisement is creation of back links.
Search engines have a complex algorithm for deciding which websites should come first in ranking. Of this a highly important aspect is the number and quality of inbound links (or back links). These links are the ones provided by other websites to link to you. For example, if you have a website selling designer cakes, and your site is linked to by a popular site that deals with event management, your ranking goes up because the search engine assumes that your site is authoritative because it has been found worthy of linking to by a well-established site. On the other hand, if a site with poor content, or a spam site links to your website, the links are not considered significant by the search engine.
There are automatically generated pages called link farms that have been created for the sole purpose of creating back links, and these claim to increase ranking but search engines normally ignore links from such pages. There are also paid links, but buying a link puts you at risk of getting removed from the search engine’s directory if found out. Such deceptive techniques used to increase site ranking come under black hat SEO, and are generally short-lived as search engines regularly weed them out. So take care to get linked by credible web pages, and for that, you need to have amazing content for your site in the first place. Ultimately, nobody gets a free lunch. You get links for your great, innovative content relevant to readers. So create such content and keep doing so.
Search Engine Optimization is not a one-time procedure. You need to regularly update content and look for increasing backlinks by searching for authentic sites that might be interested in linking to your website. You also need to regularly check your ranking, and analyse why it goes down when it does. When done right, SEO can permanently sustain web traffic to your website and bring profit to your company.