February 1, 2015

Understanding SEO

An Introduction To SEO And How The Internet Gets From A to B

The goal of the search engines is to provide us with the best internet possible and they do an impressive job of this via the small army of machines they have all over the world, collecting and processing the billions of pages of information that are now available on the web.

As good as they are at achieving this monumental task, they do need a little help piecing the whole thing together and that is where search engine optimisation, or SEO as it is known, comes in.

Imagine an enormous city subway network where each stop is a document, webpage, jpeg, pdf, or other type of file; well, this is the internet. And joining all these dots and connecting you to where you need to get to requires a lot of complex route mapping. Plus, given that each day more content is added, the ongoing mapping task is made easier if the information added or already in place contains certain clues to aid the process. Links and keywords provide these clues and we’ll get to them shortly.

subway map

Once you hit return on any search, in a fraction of a second, the main engines select the most relevant and popular websites to display. In order to determine relevance they take into account hundreds of factors from prior assessments of the content of all internet sites that have been set up to reveal themselves to the engines.

Popularity comes into play because they assume the more people visiting a particular site, seemingly as relevant as any other, the more that site must be offering something of greater value. The engines therefore give it a higher ranking as a result. This assumption has so far proved reasonably successful when it comes to giving users satisfaction with the results.

Let’s talk then about links. They come in various forms, but all do the same thing, which is to link you from one area to another.

Take, for example, the page you are reading now. The initial link you clicked on to get to this page, doyouneedawriter.com/understanding-seo, may have been emailed to you by someone. Or you may have arrived here via a link from within another part of doyouneedawriter.com, an internal link. Equally it could have been after an engine search, or by clicking a link from within a different site altogether that brought you here, both of which would have seen you using external links. Links are important to the internet and work as good facilitators in tying together different sites of similar or related interest.

Keywords are the words you choose when starting your search and will greatly affect the results you receive. If you search for “cats”, the results would be very broad indeed. If you put “tabby cats” you would find much more filtered results. If say, you lived in London though and what you wanted was to buy a tabby cat and you searched “tabby cats for sale London” then obviously you are going to home right in on your quest for that new cat.

fluffy tabby kitten by wicker basket

So then, if I was someone who sold tabby cats, in London, and I had a website, I’d do well to have such keywords and appropriate links already carefully placed within articles on my site. This is to try and give my site a favourable engine ranking, before your search, so I can then help you fulfil both our needs. Obviously, the more competitive the marketplace required to rank highly in, the more creative one needs to be in selecting keywords initially.

In the early days of the internet it was not uncommon to see high ranking sites displaying articles that were hard to read. This was largely because of keywords clumsily stuffed into text as many times as possible, with little thought for how we humans would be able to digest the content and with the sole aim of rising through the ranks of any search list. This needed to change, and fast, to avoid a poor user experience becoming the norm.
Things are different now, with Google largely leading the way. For a site to currently rank well with them in searches, informative content is crucial.

Keywords are still around, but their use is much more delicately applied. They need to be carefully woven into the fabric of an article’s context and no longer overused. Sites that persist in this outdated practice of overuse are penalised accordingly, resulting in lower than previous rankings. Some of them don’t even know why they’re falling down the pecking order, but this is often the reason.

By way of a footnote, you will see current trends showing a lot of sites refreshing their overall content more frequently and including blog sections that are regularly updated and added to. The internet loves new content as long as it is quality. Such updates often demonstrate a contemporary site, by offering readers the freshness they want, which in turn will only aid rankings.

So, if you need articles that will help get your website singing to search engines and make sense to your customers as well,  please just ask me.