posted by | Comments Off on Search Engine Optimization For Dummies

It happens every time I meet someone new. No, I don’t get shy (at least, not anymore). The topic of our occupations is brought up and it usually leads to me dumbing down the explanation of mine, just to save time and so the majority have a general understanding. The same can be said for a variety of professions I suppose. But what is mind blowing is how popular and reliant people are on the Internet (specifically search), and how little the average person knows about its inner workings.

Millions use search everyday and have no concept of why or how a website achieves preferred rankings.

It’s true that search engine algorithms are purposefully kept hush hush like The Colonel’s Secret Recipe. By keeping an algorithm’s anonymity under lock and key, it in part prevents websites from scamming the system. It is also true that search engine engineers and programmers are tweaking said algorithms on a constant basis, always looking for ways to make your search results more relevant.

More than an overwhelming majority of search users worldwide still consider Google to be top dog when it comes to returning relevant results. With more than a 80% market share, Google continues to leave its competitors like Bing and Yahoo in the dust. But where do these relevant results come from? How does a given search engine know which websites to return when you type in “Ice Cream Cone” (for example)? Better yet, if I owned an ice cream cone website, how would I get it to show up on the first page when a user performs a search on Google?

Starting with the most bizarre to the more logical, let’s cover some of the myths that some search engine optimizers may feed you for your ice cream site:

1. “The more time people spend on your website (like leaving web browsers open overnight), the higher it will rank for related keyword searches.” What’s funny is that I have only come across this gem only once in my lifetime. I will no doubt be following up with these people to see how their theory worked out for them. The real reason why your website even has a chance of ranking well is covered a little later.

2. “If you repeat the same keywords over and over again in your meta data, You will be #1 overnight.” Meta data was the equivalent of Reebok Pumps to the webmasters of the world. Once popular (and even fashionable?), meta data would give your site a boost by telling (or spamming) search engines exactly what your page was about. However, it is true that page titles (considered meta data) are (arguably) the single most important on page element that tells a search engine what your page is about.

3. “You can spam blogs with comments to promote your website and Google will consider these links as a strong indicator to rank your site first.” Those who practice this theory aren’t off their rockers completely. There is some validity to the fact that the number of links from other websites that point to yours are a deciding factor in the ranking process. But Google and other search engines factor in the quality of links in to your ranking equation. Spamming blogs of course violates Google guidelines, but who am I to crush your dreams? Spam on!

So, how do you get your website to rank #1 for a specific keyword? Like many college freshmen’s relationship statuses on Facebook, it’s complicated (especially for those just starting out). What isn’t complicated and is consistent across all the search engines is the demand for other websites to link to yours. The biggest indicator of how well your website will rank is based on the number of backlinks that point to your site. Backlinks can be everything from business directories, social bookmarks, links from your friend’s website, to your content shared on another website.

It’s true that good content never goes out of style. It’s the reason I encourage all of our clients to always be writing and blogging for their website, if nothing more than to give it an updated look. The truth is that publishing content on a regular basis increases your website’s online visibility in a variety of ways, especially in this social sharing day and age.

We’ve covered myths; we’ve covered the basics, so to speak. The one thing you should take away from this is there is a process (or an algorithm) a search engine uses to rank a site. All search engines factor in the number of other websites that link to yours and decide where your site should show up for a given keyword. Links can be obtained naturally by having content worthy of sharing, like this post for example : ) A SEO professional like myself would be happy to review the specifics of increasing your search engine rankings.

If you are dying to learn more about my high tech, super skilled profession please contact me.