SEO Basics and Best Practice
What is SEO?
Most people who own a website know about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and that it is important for a website. But There are still so many website owners who don’t understand the true meaning of SEO and how to practice it properly. These website owners often consider that SEO is a way to MANIPULATE the search engine so that a website can rank high on search results. This understanding has led to all kinds of bad SEO practices, or what is known as black hat SEO, like spamming, cloaking, keywords stuffing, etc.
There was a time when most website owners were using these methods to rank their websites, but back then major search engines like Google were not like today. These search engines, especially Google as the most used search engine today has become so advanced so that black hat methods are no longer helpful right now, in fact, this strategy only will damage the website in terms of SEO.
So what is the real meaning of SEO? Basically, SEO is a strategy to affect the visibility of a website in a search engine’s results. The target is to make a website appears as often and as high as possible in unpaid results of a search engine. Unpaid results also referred to as organic or natural results, which means you don’t have to pay to be listed. The main goal is to get as much targeted visitors as possible because the more often your website appears on organic search results, the more visitors it will receive.
There are various kinds of search that can be targeted using search engine optimization, there is a local search, image search, news search, and others. In order for a website to be able to affect the search engine’s results, the website manager should understand how search engines work. Basically, the website should follow the search engine’s guidelines in order to stay out of trouble or avoid getting banned while at the same time should also maximize the website’s performance in dealing with the search algorithms in order to always appear on top.
The website optimization work is involving on-site and off-site optimizations. But before that, you need to determine what keywords you want to run for. These keywords should be closely related to your niche and what your website is all about, but should also able to bring targeted visitors to your website. Therefore, keywords research is vital in SEO. You need to know what keywords your targeted visitors type in order to find whatever it is you have to offer in your website.
Then you can continue with on-site SEO. This optimization involves quality content, HTML coding and META tags, also everything in your website that will allow search engines to be able to index it easily. Off-site SEO activities are mostly revolving around creating high-quality inbound links from relevant websites. When being applied appropriately, these strategies will make your website appear more often on search engine’s results with decent positions.
Why you need SEO?
The Internet plays a very important role in today’s world. It has become a media that can connect everyone from all over the world. Year after year the Internet keeps on developing and has more and more functions. It has become a place where people can share and find whatever information they need. But not only that, the Internet has also become a place where people can find all kinds of products and services they need. In this case, the Internet has a huge economical value, because that means the Internet has become the largest market on the planet.
The search engine is a vital technology that can help you find whatever it is you need on the Internet. That’s why millions of people all around the world are accessing search engines every day, or almost every time they use the Internet. This is what makes search engines, especially the big ones like Google extremely important for anybody who owns a website because this is the place where they can get visitors. This fact confirms the importance of SEO for any website because with a good practice of search engine optimization these websites will gain targeted visitors.
Businesses that want to expand their market should definitely embrace the Internet technology because that way they can introduce their products or services to more people, even to those who live on other parts of the world. However, simply by creating a business website is not enough to reach this goal. No matter how good you build a website, it will be completely useless if nobody knows about it or in other words, it has no visitor. In order to get your website noticed by targeted visitors, you need to perform search engine optimization.
A lot of small businesses nowadays have grown bigger after embracing this concept. Search engine optimization as one of the most important Internet marketing strategies has helped these small businesses to get acknowledged and gained lots of new customers. One misunderstanding about Internet marketing is a lot of people still think that it only works for online businesses, which means online based businesses that only operate on the Internet without an actual business place. This is actually not true because “offline” businesses also can take advantages from Internet marketing and search engine optimization.
Offline businesses usually can benefit from search engine optimization targeting local search. The goal is to introduce the business to more people in the area so they are interested in visiting the business place and become new customers. This strategy has been proven effective to help a lot of small businesses to grow bigger and finally expand their customers’ base.
Basically anyone who has a website and needs a lot of visitors to the website should apply an appropriate Internet marketing strategy that incorporates SEO as the major part of the strategy. You need SEO to bring visitors to your website if you have a business website, SEO is even more important to help you expand your business.
History of Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization is first known in the mid-1990s. During this era, the first generation of search engines was compiling websites on the Internet that were not as many as today. In order to be listed on search results, webmasters at that time should submit their websites to these search engines. These search engines then send a web crawler to the page being submitted by the webmasters and extract links to other pages of the website. The crawler then brings this information back to the search engines to be indexed. This information is stored on the search engine’s server where various information about the webpages is being extracted. Finally, the program will evaluate all these pages word by word, also assess their weight for specific keywords, a number of links they have, and other aspects in the search algorithms, including placing the information of the webpages in a scheduler so the search engine can crawl the website again later.
At this point, a lot of website owners started to recognize the importance of search engines and the significance of being able to rank high on search results. The next development was these people tried to figure out how search engines work and how the algorithms determine which websites to be displayed on top, so the search engine optimization is born. The term “search engine optimization” itself was started to be used in around 1997.
Search algorithms during the early era of the search engine relied a lot on information provided by webmasters to determine the websites’ visibility. This includes reading the keyword META tags that inform the content of a webpage, also various attributes within the HTML source. This system gave a lot of power to webmasters to control the search results. That’s why search engines at that time often display irrelevant search results because a lot of webmasters actually manipulated the META tags and HTML source of their websites just to make them rank higher, while the information given on the META tags and HTML source didn’t represent the actual content of their websites. Keywords density factor on search algorithms was also being abused by webmasters by stuffing keywords all over their webpages without providing actual information for their web visitors.
All these abusive practices are known as black hat SEO, which still exists until today, although the methods are way different and more difficult to do compared to how it was back then. As more and more webmasters were practicing this unethical strategy, major search engines quickly developed new systems to provide more and more relevant search results with search algorithms that don’t rely too much on the webmasters.
As the Internet technology is developing, so do the Internet users. People are getting more aware about the need to easily find online resources that are relevant to whatever it is they actually need on the Internet. For that reason, they need a reliable search engine that can provide the most relevant search results for them. This is also the reason why Google becomes the largest search engine on the Internet today because most internet users nowadays agree that Google is able to provide the most relevant search results based on the search phrase given by the users.
How Google Search Works?
Basically, Google is very secretive about its data centers and how it calculates its search results, however, there is some basic information that have been released to the public that could give us an idea of how it works.
Google has a very sophisticated software that supports its search technology that could conduct a series of simultaneous calculations and provide accurate search results in a matter of seconds. While many other search engines still rely a lot on how many times certain words appear on a webpage to determine its relevance to the search phrase used by the Internet users, Google is claiming to use more than 200 signals to assess the link structure of the web and finally determine which web pages are more important or relevant than others based on the search phrase.
When you create a webpage, whether it’s a blog post, video, tweet or any content to the web, Google bots that work continuously to crawl the web will come across your page. Google bots will eventually crawl your page even though you don’t do a lot of SEO work on your website. However, this is not enough if you want high visibility for your webpage. Your website should be crawled deeply and regularly to increase its visibility on Google search. Your website should have inbound links to be crawled by Google bots because basically that’s how they work, they follow links. The links’ quality also play an important role, the more links you have from high authority pages, the more often Google bots will visit your website. Google could also crawl your site if it’s being pinged by XML sitemaps or blog software.
When the site is crawled, it will be indexed in a matter of seconds. The page content is stored in a reverse index, this includes page titles, link data, and on page content. So when you do a search on Google, you actually don’t search for the active web, but Google’s cache of the website that’s constantly being updated.
Your webpages will be checked against Google’s editorial policies. A number of data are assigned to each of your webpage based on Google’s assessment to help in user searches, on the other hand, Google can also give penalties if there are some violations found.
Google is using synonyms that are included in your search query to help you find the most relevant results to your search. Then it will create an initial result, which will be sorted based on page rank and page authority, plus it will also remove duplicate pages. Before the organic search results are displayed, Google will apply its search filters to provide the most relevant and reliable search results for its users.
SEO Best practices
When it comes to practicing SEO, we will have to deal with different options, there are many different paths to choose. But basically we can choose the easy way or the hard way, or at least that’s how most people see it. So, if there is an easy way to do it, why would anyone choose the hard way? That’s because the easy way comes with a risk, a risk of losing everything that you have been working on very hard.
The easy way is usually just another term for the “unethical way”, which describes some unethical methods that violate search engine’s guidelines in order to rank well in search results. These unethical methods are applied to cheat the search engine in thinking that a website has strong relevance and high importance regarding certain keywords. The truth is, most of the times such website is far from being important or even has any relevance to the keywords. The most impaired parties are the Internet users and the search engine.
The most common unethical methods being applied include spamming, keywords stuffing, blog network, and many more. Unfortunately for these unethical websites’ owners, Google as the biggest search engine on the Internet already has a way to anticipate these unethical SEO practices. Since the day it was launched, Google’s search engine keeps on evolving, and today Google has a lot of sophisticated filters that can separate the good apples from the rotten ones.
These cheaters also won’t getaway so easy, if they are caught by Google’s filters, they will be banned and never show up again on Google’s search results. Losing visibility in Google’s search is the worst nightmare for any website because all the hard work of building the website and maintaining it all this time will go down to the toilet. So, it’s best to play it safe, even though it would take a little more work and a little more time for you to get the results.
The hard way of doing SEO or the ethical way is not really as scary as it sounds, in fact, anybody actually can do it. A good SEO practice should begin since the website building process. It’s important for you to make sure that the website is light enough so it can load quickly. Google loves websites that take only a few seconds to load – some experts say it should be around 3 to 7 seconds. You also need to create a sitemap so the search engine can crawl all pages in your website easily, as well as creating the user-friendly interface.
Next, you should choose the best keywords for your website. This is a very important step in search engine optimization because it will be the base of all your SEO plan. Almost every aspect of your SEO strategy will include these chosen keywords, so you have to pick them carefully. There are many great tools available nowadays to help you come up with keywords that can bring targeted visitors to your website while at the same time realistic for you to work on.
The next step is to upload original content with real value to the website. Your website should have enough content to perform well on Google search. Quality content is extremely important nowadays, not only it has to be completely unique, but also has to provide real values to the visitors. Google makes sure of this by releasing a filter called Panda that keeps on being updated. A violation to this rule will result in a severe punishment like being banned by Google. You also need to provide an informative title tag every time you create a new page, put your keywords in title tags where appropriate.
When you’re done with the on page SEO, next thing you need is to do an off page SEO. Off page, SEO is mostly to create inbound links to your website. The best links you can get are from high authority websites that have high relevance to your website, plus these websites also don’t have no follow tags. Another great way is to create links through guess posting, high authority press release as well as high-quality web directories.
SEO is not a strategy to CHEAT your way to the top of search results, but it should be seen as a proven method that you can use to affect the search results and make your website have more quality according to major search engines’ guidelines, especially Google. Cheating will only get your website punished by Google and all your hard work and money will go to waste after your website is no longer listed on search results.
Since the search engine technology was introduced, it keeps on evolving in order to provide a much better, more relevant search results to Internet users. Today, Google as the biggest search engine on the Internet has lots of filters and use more than 200 signals in its search algorithms in order to provide the most relevant search results, and it keeps on improving its technology to provide even more accurate search results.
There are many different SEO strategies being applied today by webmasters all around the world, but not all of these strategies work, some of them are even harmful to your website. Shortcuts in SEO usually only lead to disasters, these unethical SEO practices look very tempting at the beginning, because they are easy to do, sometimes a cheap software can even do the job, and the results are quick. But in the end it will be your lost when Google finally caught you and ban your site from its search results.
Search engines like Google are extremely valuable for website owners, especially those who own business websites. Any website that needs visitors will need search engines to bring them those visitors. For business websites, search engines are the source for them to get new customers, which will eventually help them grow their businesses.
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