What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the term used to describe the process of enhancing a website to increase the likelihood it will be ranked in the top results of a search engine whenever a relevant keyword search is performed.
Why is SEO important?
Websites that rank on the first one or two pages for a search term receive a lot of traffic – thousands of visitors per day – which in turn, can be successfully monetized in a number of different ways. A website that can get and maintain a top position for a very popular search term is in a powerful position because of the audience they command. On the other hand, websites with a very low ranking have little traffic and little chance of making money.
What does SEO involve?
There are a number of factors involved in optimizing a website:
* Content needs to be good quality and regularly updated
* The site needs to use and focus on the search terms that the target audience employs to search for related information.
* Site needs to be structured well and have a site map.
* Each page needs to have a good hierarchy and layout.
* The HTML meta-tags (such as H1 and H2 tags, image tags etc) need to include your most important keywords and have good descriptions of the page content.
* The site needs to indicate its importance by linking to other relevant sites.
Is SEO difficult to learn?
Yes and no. SEO can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with HTML and website structure and design. It is also complex because search engines change their algorithms for judging the importance of websites very frequently, so you need to keep up to date with current thoughts and commentary on the process.
But on the other hand, once you are familiar with the basic principles of SEO, it is just a matter of continuing to update your site regularly by making small changes.
The Pitfalls of SEO
The most common pitfall of SEO is trying to ‘fool’ the search engines by taking shortcuts. The most common of these is keyword spamming, where words with very high daily search numbers are added to the meta tags in large numbers – even if they are not relevant to the site.
Another common method of keyword spamming is site content packed with searchable keywords to the point where the text doesn’t actually make sense.
These methods will sometimes see a short-term rise in page rank (although search engines are becoming more discerning), however, it doesn’t take long for search engines to catch onto the fact that the site contains no data of real use. When this happens, the site may face penalties.
However, even before the search engines catch on, this technique creates problems as the traffic will quickly leave the site when they realize the content is poor. In sum, fooling the search engines with keyword spamming is not a smart move. You’ll be paying more for bandwidth, yet if visitors aren’t staying long enough to buy from the site, there is no benefit.
Where should I start?
Your first step should be market research using keyword research. The most important aspect of SEO is understanding your audience and targeting your site to meet their requirements as fully as possible.
You can find what your audience is looking for and interested in by researching related searches. There are piles of keyword research tools on the Internet to help you with this task. Start with broad search terms such as ‘marketing’ or ‘site optimization’ and see what other related search terms people are looking for to help you further understand your market and match your website to their requirements.