Search Engine Optimization Definition
Creating an engaging website is only the first step for businesses seeking inroads to online success. How that website is discovered and by whom will ultimately determine its fate; for even the most well designed, user friendly website will be an overall failure if it cannot attract new visitors. The truth is that a business website is only as good as its ranking on an online search. According to a 2011 Pew Internet study, nearly 60% of all adult users engage in an Internet search every day. In other words, the majority of web traffic is directed solely by search engine results. Search engine users start with zero knowledge of a subject. Their eventual Internet destination hinges on the link they choose on the search engine results page. Additional studies conclude that potential visitors using the big three search engines — Google, Yahoo, and Bing — rarely look beyond the first page of search results. Business websites languishing on the edge of the search, especially past page two, are only slightly better than no web presence at all. As the majority of search inquirers click the first three results at the top of page one, sites further down the line lose potential visitors exponentially. Lost visitors equals lost clients which equals lost profit. A low ranking on a web search can cost a business big bucks in missed opportunities.
The Nuts and Bolts of Search Engine Optimization
Thankfully, businesses can change their visibility and move their sites up the popularity list. Search engine optimization is a data driven marketing strategy that explores the fundamentals of search terms and search results and applies precise tweaks to the website in order to improve overall ranking. Search engine optimization analyzes a website’s needs against the way people actually search for information. Equal parts data research and expert intuition, ad agencies specializing in search engine optimization have mastered the art of predicting search results for individual sites. By better understanding how users enter queries and what kind of answers they expect after asking them, search engine optimization experts can tailor strategies for directed traffic. In addition, depending on the available products and policies of the search engines themselves, websites may also purchase adverts on the search result pages. As an example, Google ad space appears as the paid advertising links in the coveted top three spaces above the regular results. A good advertising agency specializing in strengthening a business’s digital footprint, such as Ad Army Group Marketing Services, can combine both search based and ad based strategies into a comprehensive Toronto search engine optimization package for a business site.
The History of Search Engine Optimization
Search engines have been part of the digital landscape since the web’s beginnings. Savvy web masters quickly learned the benefits of search engine optimization. In those early days, high rankings could be attained by simply registering a site’s url with a specific search index. Soon, however, as the Internet boomed and thousands of sites with similar services sprang up across the web, the criteria for ranking became more complicated. By the late nineties, search engines had begun to seriously change the way they indexed website data. Originally, search engine indexes were dependent on the meta data gathered by “web crawlers.” Web crawlers are automated software programs used to gather links from across the web. These crawlers, which are tasked with collecting the data that fuels the search engine results, are the key to healthy search engine optimization. Early search engine optimization exploited web crawling by listing keyword data in the meta tags of the site’s html code. Although web crawling continues to be the most vital function of search engines today, the ranking of sites has changed and mere dependence on meta tags is no longer enough. Search engine web crawling has evolved beyond simple meta data collection to produce the most relevant answers to users’ search queries. Web crawlers now index the titles of articles as well as their content. Search engines today take this mountain of data and use it in a series of sophisticated, closely-guarded algorithms to rank websites according to individual search queries. Sites at the very top of the search have used these algorithms to their advantage in the form of search engine optimization. Not only are the keywords and html of top ranking websites sculpted to predict the most popular search requests, but urls, article content, and even social networking links have been structured to attract the very best search results for users. Additionally, top ranking sites have streamlined their architecture to allow unfettered search indexing. These sites also use specific methods to further promote their ranking in general search results.
A Plan for Search Engine Optimization
Ad Army Group Marketing Services is an expert in Toronto search engine optimization. The ad agency improves site recognition for the best search results tailored for the ideal site visitor. Even without an expert consultation, however, the ranking of a site’s search results can be noticeably improved. Web administrators may begin the process of search process optimization, by checking their websites against the classic fundamentals of search engine optimization.
Data is the Internet’s digital currency. The first step in assessing the needs of a site is to examine the available data. Google, for example, through its Google Webmaster Tools, reports the exact number of pages indexed by Google for individual sites. These numbers tell exactly how a website is discovered by search engine queries. Knowing where to look and how to read the relevant data is a first priority for search engine optimization. Indexing status, collected by the search engine’s web crawler, reveals whether a site is actually getting discovered by users.
- Backend Design
Messy, inconsistent data from muddled code is a guaranteed search rank killer. Site design that is structurally flawed from the backend will be poorly indexed by search engines. Web design should have multiple browsers and platforms in mind and should conform to the standards set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). W3C validation of coding and style sheets is not only sound design policy but vital to better overall search rankings.
Content should be the easiest factor to control, yet websites regularly make simple mistakes that cost valuable search ranking. Content for a site should be fluid. Stagnant sites that never update or add new content drop in their search engine rankings over time. New content should be useful and interesting to potential visitors. This means producing valid information of reasonable length. Longer content contains more data to index and find in search queries. The main home page of a site should have at least 500 words of content while informative pages should aim for around 1500. Most importantly, all content must be original. Websites that plagiarize content from other websites will find themselves penalized in their search engine rankings (This is especially true of Google).
- Keywords & Key Phrases
Search engine optimization must take a holistic vision of content from across the entire site. It is not enough to simply have a web page on a site dedicated to a single product. Search engine optimization ensures that keywords across the site will guide prospective visitors to not only the site but also to the correct page that answers their specific query. A careful plan for search engine optimization checks for clear keywords across all links and pages. In addition, search engine optimization makes certain that words grouped in logical clusters will point to the correct search results. Keyword frequency must walk the delicate line between informative and abusive. Keywords are important to proper site indexing, but too many may flag a site as spam. Websites with proper optimization keep keyword frequency around 2% of total article content to avoid penalties in ranking.
The website is only a single gear in the larger machine of search engine optimization. Sites that appear prominently on social networks or are featured on other websites will appear more often in search results. Backlinks or links on one website which link back to another website are increasingly important in building the popularity ranks on search results. Backlinks are the twenty-first century equivalent of the classic business referrals. Backlinks from other websites are indexed by the crawler as are mentions of the site on social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook. Visibility across the Internet beyond just the website brings higher popularity on search engine results.
Search Engine Optimization for Online Success
Search engine optimization is essential if a business plans to use its website to create a customer base or even augment an existing one. Without a well crafted search engine optimization strategy, a website’s popularity on the search pages is left to chance. An expert ad agency with the know how to read indexing data can structure a successful SEO for a website. Search engine optimization guarantees a fighting change in the online jungle. Especially in a localized markets, like Toronto, businesses want their websites to jump out to potential visitors.