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What Is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is "the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.” (Wikipedia) What this really means is that when Joe* decides that he needs to find out what Cathisophobia is, he goes to his trusted search engine (usually Google or Bing) and types in "What is Cathisophobia". Now every dictionary site, phobia site or random fact site would like to be the first one to appear on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), but there is only 1 top place. This is why we need SEO, to get us into that #1 place.

(*an average customer - average Joe)

What Can SEO Accomplish

Search Engine Optimization can bring your website to the front of a user’s mind, by making it one of the first websites they will see when they search for a particular item. Search results play a big part in user’s choices for physical locations, online sources and more. Simply put, people are lazy, they are therefore most likely to go onto a Search Engine, type in what they need and pick the first result at the top of the list, rather than look any further down. This means, if you are at the top, you will usually get the most clicks.

SEO is not an exact science, nor is it predictable, however anything you can do to increase awareness of your website is always good, and this is a great place to start.

Top Tips for SEO that Works

As stated previously, SEO is not a science, however there are certain tips that can help you along the way to becoming an SEOer.

1. Quality Links - While Google always warns to stay away from link building, backlinks are still the most important way to improve your visibility in search engine results. This means that when another site mentions you and links to your site, the Search Engine sees that your site is viable and giving quality content and therefore should be recommended by them.

2. Content is King - Content quality plays a large role in determining a site’s authority. If you have a site that has repetitive notes, illegible articles or scraped content (content duplicated from another site) then it will not add value to a user, and therefore you will have a low chance to score in the search results. To make sure that your site does not fall into the traps, keep your site up to date with fresh and original content and useful information relevant to your audience. You must also be sure you play by the rules but remember that these rules are changing every year, for example the Hummingbird (Google update) era impacts the way Google can serve results for keywords based semantic search. This means that rather than showing you results that exactly match the keywords you have entered, it will understand what you are looking for and rather give you results that will be most helpful to you. 

3. Take Your Layout Seriously - While many may think that Google and other search engines can’t see your layout and therefore it doesn’t really matter, think again. Layout is a big player in SEO. If there are too many advertisements above the fold (where people can see without scrolling down) or if your layout is messy and confusing, your ranking will be negatively affected.

4. Keywords - It is very important to include keywords in various places in the content of your page so that a Search Engine can identify what people can find on your site. A keyword is what a user will type into the search engine to state what they are looking for. You can include keywords in your domain, a unique URL (see our URL on this page includes SEO), in the META tags (this is found in your HTML code) and in the content on your site. You should not overload on the keywords you’d like to target, but make sure that they appear enough to be the prominent words on the website.

5. Optimize Images - When an image is loaded onto a site, it comes with an ALT tag in the HTML code. This ALT tag can be a great resource for your SEO. This tag should include keywords that are relevant to the image and to your site. Remember, some people may just search the images section on Google, and your page could still come up.

6. Track Your Results - This is something that some SEOers tend to forget. Tracking your results is extremely important in order to make sure that your efforts are succeeding. Besides the basic tacking of where your website ranks for your keywords, you also need to be familiar with Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, which provide additional information on your site performance in Google and analyzes the user behavior. You can also take it a step further and use an SEO Platform that integrates with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, as well as other major search engines and link tracking tools, to consolidate and display data in easy to understand reports.

SEO Terms to Know

  • Adwords - Google’s paid advertising system. 
  • Algorithm - A system used by a search engine to decide how to rank websites. Follow Google’s algorithm updates on our update page.
  • Authority Site - A site that is trusted by Google, usually due to many people linking to it including expert sites. 
  • Back Link - (incoming link) A link coming to your site from another site on the web.
  • Black Hat - Underhand SEO tactics that are not inline with best practices such as Google Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Bounce Rate - The number or percentage of visitors to your site who enter and leave your site without viewing any other pages.
  • Content - The text, images and items found on your website. 
  • CPC - Cost Per Click, the cost for an advertiser every time a user clicks on their advertisement.
  • CPM - Cost Per Thousand Impressions, a system of payment in which the advertiser pays according to how many people see his advertisement rather than clicks.
  • Crawler - A spider, server or bot that crawls the web and websites in search of information to send back to a search engine, which will help in the decision of rankings.
  • HTML - A basic web language that gives a website it’s structure.
  • Impression - When your advertisement or organic result is shown on a page that is being seen by a user, that is one impression. 
  • Keyword - The word that a user enters into a search engine.
  • Keyword Stuffing - The event of a website overusing a keyword in their content, META tags or elsewhere on their website.
  • Landing Page - The webpage that a user lands on when clicking a link to a website.
  • Link - A section or element on a web page that, when clicked, will allow the browser to jump to a different web page. 
  • Link Farm - A group of websites whose only aim is to link to a target page. (Usually in an attempt to improve that page's Google ranking).
  • META tags - These are hidden elements that are placed within the HTML of a website that are not seen by a user, but are seen by a crawler.
  • Nofollow - A command in the HTML of a website that instructs robots (or crawlers) not to follow any links or a specific link on a website. This is done to prevent deteriorating the authority of your website.
  • Organic Link - A link to your website that was not paid for and only put there because the webmaster felt that it added quality to their content.
  • PageRank - PageRank is an algorithm used by Google to rank websites in their search engine results.
  • Paid Link - A link to your website that was put there because your paid or gave incentive the webmaster.
  • PPC - Pay Per Click, a form of payment used in online advertising related to CPC.
  • Scrape - Copying content from another website. This is often done with automated tools.
  • SE - Search Engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc...
  • SEM - Search Engine Marketing includes things like SEO, paid listings and other techniques that can increase a website’s stance on a search engine.
  • SERP - Search Engine Results Page is the page of results that appears once you search for a keyword in a search engine.
  • SMM - Social Media Marketing is becoming more and more prevalent. This is any form of promotion of a brand or website on social media platforms.
  • Social Media - These are platforms that encourage social sharing and relationships online. Some of the biggest social media sites are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • URL - Uniform Resource Locator or a web address.
  • User Generated Content - Content on a web page that is created by the users of the page. 
  • Social Media sites run on user generated content.
  • White Hat - SEO tactics that are inline with best practices such as Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, or Subscribe to the Rank Ranger Blog for the latest SEO Platform updates and trending news, plus helpful articles on the SEO Process.
We also recommend:
Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO blog
Search Engine Land 
About The Author
Shiri brings her knowledge in online marketing and social media, among other things to the Rank Ranger team. She's excited to be a Ranger and looks forward to wearing the ranger hat and getting her sheriff's badge in the SEO force.

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