December 6, 2016 22:55

The essence of SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization i.e. website optimization for search engines. In practice, it includes techniques and practices to make our website pop up high on a search engine’s results such as Google, Bing, Baidu, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and Yandex.

We will use the term “SEO” as a noun as it is used quite often in this way in the market. So to improve the SEO of your website, there are countless techniques that have different gravity. Some make little or very little difference, others large, and others huge. In this article, we will draw your attention to the basic principles and practices of SEO that can make your Site to stand out from the masses and to climb on the first page of results.

Your website lives in a computer that operates continuously around the clock and is housed in the Web hosting company’s premises with which you selected – or your programmer for you – to do business.

To view your website, you – as well as your visitors and your customers – use a type of program called Web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Opera and Safari. Your browser then downloads the site from the remote computer and displays it.

What your browser downloads is essentially a text document written in a language called HTML and along with it come other files that complement it such as images and videos. Even the images and videos are texts written in a language! If that seems odd to you, then right-click while you are on a website and then select “View Source” to view the code of the page (or press CTRL + U). Try it!

Website Source Code

In fact that’s what your site really is. Text! The text you are reading along with the code that gives it form and color. Your browser knows how to read this code from beginning to end (from top to bottom) and thus “paint” the website on your screen – complete with images, colors, frames, etc.

You, as a human being, see the final, beautiful, visual result. However, a website is not downloaded and used only by people but also by robots.

Companies like Google, have computers with artificial intelligence – robots – that visit our website in order to assess it and classify it in the company’s search engine.
So when one person uses Google search to find a site she’s looking for, it will be able to show her the best results.
Google’s robots do not have eyes or a screen and do not see a rendered visual result. All they “see” and evaluate is text. Common text with code surrounding it.

So it is important to understand what a robot evaluates in the text it sees, if you want your Site to show up on Google and to achieve a high ranking among other search results.

What matters in SEO

As mentioned above, Google’s robots review the plain text and code. Roughly, the things they evaluate are:

  • The Site’s speed. How quickly did the hosting company’s remote computer respond and send the site? How long did it take to reach our computer and how long did it take for the program to render and display it? A robot can estimate the render time by evaluating the efficiency of our code.
  • The structure and appearance of the Site. Whether the code is efficient and semantically structured. If the information, service or product that the site contains is easily accessible from the home page and not after several clicks. If it is suitable for devices of various sizes and if it fits the screen of a mobile phone i.e. it looks good and without any horizontal scrollbars. If it is beautiful and pleasing to the eye.
  • The text and content of the Site. Does it have enough good and relevant text and content that people are searching for using keywords in the search engine?
  • The traffic and popularity of the Site. Does the Site have traffic and do people visit it through the search engine? Are there several other sites that “speak” about it and point to our own Site with links?

Fairly will you wonder what you can do for all the above. For some things you can do a lot, for others maybe little or nothing. Also, some things are worth trying for, while others not so much.

In order to decide what can be done and by whom, you must first call the players behind the operation of the site. Usually three. 1) The creator, which may be one or a team of designers and developers. 2) The owner together with the personnel to which she has delegated the operation and management of the site and its contents. 3) The hosting company which is serving the site.

Of course, all the above three can be the same player or the creator can simultaneously be the owner. In these cases, we’re dealing with “players” who have a good knowledge of SEO for which there are already countless articles on the Internet. This article, however, concerns mostly web site owners who have a client’s role in their relationship with the creator and are looking for ways to improve their online business either on their own or with the help of the creator-partner.

How can we improve our SEO

Let’s see what can be done for a site’s SEO:

  • For the Site’s speed. As an owner all you can do is to enter the customer’s position and point of view and think about whether your page appears well and quickly. If not, you must request the intervention of the author (i.e. the creator) in order to identify and solve the problem or make a more “lightweight” design and content. Quite often it’s not possible for the creator to improve the speed, but is a matter of the hosting company, so in this case you should contact them and possibly buy a better service from them. The speed of a site is influenced by several variable factors such as traffic, so it is not always the same. If it is not satisfactory on a frequent basis, then it is worth to take an action.
  • For the structure and appearance of the Site. As an owner, you must once again enter the customer’s position and point of view and see if you can easily find what you want through the Site’s search or the homepage e.g. whether any of your products can easily be located requiring just a couple of clicks to locate its category and from there to go to the product page. You should think about whether the Site is beautiful and whether it is a pleasant experience browsing it. Ask your friends and acquaintances to gather several opinions. Take care to display and browse it using mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.). Even if your Site scores good enough in Google’s search results when you are behind your laptop’s screen, Google can place it significantly lower in the results shown to small devices, if it decides that it is inappropriate for them. Somewhere here you stop with what you can do about this matter – which is not little! What else is important, is how the Site is made and the structure and efficiency of its code. Only the author or a programmer can do something about it but you do not have to worry about it much. That’s because, usually, for the construction of your Site a well-known platform is used like WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, Magento, OpenCart, PrestaShop etc. and they all have been made with SEO in mind and have quite good SEO themselves.
  • For the text and content of the Site. Any visitor to your Site that found you from Google’s search engine, used some keywords to find what she is looking for. Google decided that your site has some relevant content and showed it in the results of her search. First, you need to think like your customers and get the content they want. If you are selling clothes, then the audience that you need to satisfy is people who buy clothes, and if your online store has local orientation rather than international, then its contents should aim to satisfy a subgroup of the general audience. So you should have several pages of products that have good and relevant titles, relevant images and video, and enough of good, useful and relevant text. If the client feels that what he sees is visually pleasing and what he reads is useful and relevant to his search or interesting even if it’s not the specific product she’s searching for, then she will be satisfied, even as a reader and not as a buyer. A satisfied reader of your Site, is also a satisfied customer of Google, as it aims to provide the best and most relevant results to its users. So if a Google user visited your Site and was satisfied – and Google has several ways to know this and make a good estimate – then Google will be satisfied and you will be satisfied as well. So then, you must not only think like your customers, but also like Google’s customers – the users of a search engine. What keywords do they use? What are the trends this month or the following one? If you do not have the specific keywords in your content, then it is practically impossible to appear in search results unless another site is “talking” about your own using some of them.
  • For the traffic and popularity of the Site. If your site is good in all areas mentioned above and has quality content, then sooner or later the news will spread and you will get traffic. Google has ways to know about your traffic, and especially the amount coming through its own search engine, and rewards you with high rankings in search results. Besides, to get enough visitors and traffic means that you’re doing well and people like you and so it is quite likely that users who are searching for something related to what you have will like you as well. Beyond your daily traffic, there is a greater guarantee for Google – the popularity of your site. That is how many other sites “talk” about you and have a link to your site. Each link is a vote, and it has a different gravity depending on the popularity of your voter and the relevancy of the voter’s content regarding your own. A vote from another site of the same category as yours (e.g. clothes), is much more important than an irrelevant one (e.g. pastry) and a vote by a large site like Microsoft’s could count like ten votes coming from small sites, even if the latter ones are more relevant to your content. If your site is good and you often create new content, sooner or later you will collect votes and there will be discussions about it on the Internet. There are several natural ways to win votes with targeted efforts, such as advertisements. Finally, your popularity will determine whether you will appear higher than your competitors, even if you have equally quality and relevant content! Otherwise, the only way to appear high in the results, in addition to paid advertising, is when there is low competition for the keywords used in the search.

What is evidently clear from all of the above, which is also the essence of SEO, is that you should aim to satisfy your customers and users of your Site!

If your customers are satisfied then you will be satisfied, and Google will be satisfied as well!

SEO is easily understood; however, it requires much effort to create content and to build the popularity and credibility of your site.

It is necessary to understand the philosophy behind the creation of content and to learn good practices for creating good titles with keywords, good images with keywords and good text which will be relevant, readable, with correct grammar and punctuation, and of course with sufficient keywords.

We can help you in your quest to learn to create content and to discover new ways of obtaining vote-links – it is part of our job!


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