SEO-Search Engine Optimization

Anyone who’s  searched for something on Google knows how overwhelming the results of that search can be.  Literally millions of result appear in less than a second.  The results most likely to be noticed are those on the top of the page.  To get there, however, takes some work.

The process of optimizing a website so that links to in Google (and other search engine) search results appear on or near the top of the page is call Search Engine Optimization.  The SEO process involves 2 separate practices, Onsite SEO and Offsite SEO.

Onsite SEO

Onsite optimization means going through a website’s content and making changes that positively affect how search engines treat it.  Google and other search engines regularly crawl every site on the internet and index (or file) the results.  The first step in onsite SEO is listing your site’s pages with search engines.  By listing each page, you no longer have to wait for the next time your site is crawled for the page to be indexed.

Other changes include making sure the content on your site is informative, interesting, highly visible and has the optimum keyword density.  Simply put, this process makes sure that your site is useful to the person visiting it and provides real information, not just spam designed to attract search engines but have nothing informative to offer.  The keywords that are likely to be entered into Google should be used in the site’s contents enough to establish with Google your site’s relevance. Equally important is that your verbiage not overuse keywords.  Too many keyword can result in Google thinking your site is spam.

Other onsite SEO techniques involve meta tags, alt tags, h1 titles (and h2, h3 etc) and other methods to refine the site’s internal code to affirm its relevance on the web.  Let’s say you own an e-commerce business selling golf supplies.   The category and product pages of your site should have readable, English URLs rather than long streams of numbers and letters that make no sense to a human reader.  Images should have clear captions, and some meta data (hidden information about the image) that relates to the product.  These are some of the types of things that can result in good onsite SEO, and consequently better visibility to search engines.

Offsite SEO

Just as onsite SEO refers to techniques used to modify and refine your website to optimize its relevance with search engines, offsite SEO refers to efforts throughout the rest of the web for the same purpose.  Among the most important of these is establishing linkbacks.  A linkback is just what it sounds like, a link to your website from some other site, preferable one that has prominence and “authority” on the same subject.  Back to our golf supply example, having a link to your site from a USGA page, or from the blog of a PGA player or well-known country club or golf course would be excellent examples.  All of those sites have authority on the subject of golf, not just according to the people that visit the sites but to Google and other search engines as well.  And by sending traffic back to your website, they send some of that prominence and authority as well.  Its kind of like website nepotism.

Another excellent offsite SEO practice is the placement of written content containing your keywords, and your website as well, on other websites.  The best way to do that is through a blog.  Blog contents get updated on a regular basis, as new articles are posted.  Each time a new addition is made to your blog it gets registered with Google and indexed.  Your keywords establish relevance and any links to your site add even more authority.  Of course blogs can work on site as well as off.