SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. The main idea behind this seemingly big term is to help businesses and websites increase traffic through organic searches on search engines. This way, when an issue or a topic in your industry is searched, you are one of the first results the search engine turns up.
The sad truth is that the first results on the search page get more traffic than many others lower on the search result list. Many users stop their search on the first search page and may or may not continue to the next page. Effectively employing SEO in the right places could give your website a leap.
As a website owner, knowing when to use SEO is relevant in climbing on search ranks. You know its time to think about SEO when you need a boost in web visitors or traffic, or an improved page ranking. As a matter of fact, you should consider adding SEO to your web pages when you notice a decline in sales or if you want to increase them.
Keep reading to know when and how to get it done on your website.
When SEO Started
The early mention of the word SEO can be dated to 1997. However, before then, the idea to rank higher in lists or be amongst the first mentions had always been there.
Common examples were directories and Yellow Pages. Yellow pages were directories of businesses and organizations arranged based on their categories or their industries. Names were not necessarily arranged based on alphabetical order. As a result, it was not uncommon to find business owners pay the publishers to have their names on the top of the lists.
After the first website was launched sometime in 1991, many more came along as time went by. Consequently, search engines were developed to help users of the web find information easily among the growing contents available. Common examples were Archie, developed in 1990, Wandex, and ALIWEB in 1993.
In 1994, prominent websites such as Atlas and Yahoo came on board, and in 1996 came BackRub. BackRub acquired its domain as Google.com in 1997.
Site owners began to seek ways to get their sites noticed and increase traffic. At this point, the internet was relatively new and the search engines still had areas to improve upon. Exploiting these loopholes, site owners could manipulate searches through simple actions such as keyword stuffing, adding spam links, spam comments, and several other black hat activities.
However, things changed in 1998 when Larry Page and Sergey Brin worked on a paper that first mentioned the PageRank technology. This new method became the selling point of their search engine, Google.
With this method, search results are ranked based on the quality of the contents and not the keywords alone. Some factors considered include the effectiveness of the content, the relevance of the links, as well as the traffic.
As expected many websites lost their positions on the search list and some others climbed up. This continued to be practised as their algorithm got better and better. This idea spread to other search engines such as Yahoo and MSN and favored websites that published and delivered quality content.
SEO When Building a Website
Plans should be made from the onset to include SEO when building a website from scratch. This way, you are building a guarantee from the beginning that your website would be easily indexed by the search engine. Starting with this in mind also saves you the stress of going through this much later. So here are some things to consider about SEO when building a website.
First things first, know what your website would talk about. Good keyword research would help you identify the best keywords to use. Like times before, keywords play vital roles in SEO when building a website. By using the right keywords, it is easy for search engines to determine the content or message on your website.
After selecting the keywords that best suit your message, how you use them can affect the ranking of your website. A little hack is for the keyword to make up not more than 5% of words in a 1000 words content.
The layout, formatting, and plan site of the website
With an idea of what the website would talk about, you would want to work on the layout, the formatting, and the plan site of the website. Page layout describes the outlook of the website, from the location of content, links, pictures to the text fonts and size. The background colors should make it easy to read what is written.
For a website optimized for search engines, you would want to plan out every content that would go on specific pages. These all work together to ensure a very satisfactory customer experience when on your page. And as you can guess, better customer engagement boosts SEO ranking.
The relevance of your content is important
Every form of content that sits on your webpage should be made very relevant to visitors. Images, videos or sound clips used should not be a far cry from what the website is talking about. Different people would be visiting your site so it would be wise to use simple and easy-to-understand words.
Make navigation easy on the website
The goal of many websites is to have visitors and then convert them to customers. To get that done easily, navigation on the website should be made easy. With this, visitors can go from different places on the site.
A website that loads slowly or does not effectively link different parts of the website can frustrate the user’s experience and thus earn you a low SEO rank. It is important to double-check probably with real users or tools the ease of navigation.
There are several analytics tools to help you see the SEO performance of your website as time goes. With these, you would be able to track how your users interact with your website and note the areas that need improvement. It is important to begin running this from the building stage of your website.
A common analytic tool is Google analytic. Since Google remains the biggest search engine engaging their analytic tools can help you increase your SEO rank
The arrangement of the topics and titles on your website does affect your SEO ranking. A simple trick is to include the keyword you want to rank for in the title tags. The title tags should be properly used based on the page and what is in it.
You would find that the title tag is useful when your website gets bookmarked or when the post is shared on social media. When building your websites, it is important to pay attention to the title tags.
It has been observed in recent times that results from social media are included in search results. Popular pages on social media would organically be brought up in search when topics are searched. Sometimes, they come up before business websites!
Knowing this, you would want to improve the chances of your website coming up on a search page by creating an active and engaging presence on social media.
SEO When Redesigning a Website
It can be sad to lose all the hard work and ranking your website has gathered because of errors when redesigning. Without taking proper steps, your SEO can be affected when redesigning your website. To maintain or even build upon your SEO ranking when working on redesigning your website, here are simple things to bear in mind.
Start with an audit
Run through and make a list of all you have on the old website. This could be the SEO ranking, the pages
Back up the old pages
You do not want to lose anything so it is safer to have a backup.
Work on a URL you can use in the meantime
Copy your website and do the redesign on a temporary URL so it can be moved back when you are done. It also does not tamper with the files from the old website.
Test new designs
After creating the designs, trying out the designs is the next step. This way, you would be able to identify any broken link or feature that needs adjustments.
It might also be necessary to work out 301 redirects in cases where there might be a URL change. Without proper redirects, the search engine would display a 404 error page and thus a slip in your SEO ranking.
Having ensured that everything is alright, you can make the move to the new website. For really big websites, you could do this steadily instead of at once.
Ensuring everything is running smoothly is another thing to consider. You would be checking again for broken links, and amend them quickly. To do this, you could employ tools such as the Google Webmaster.
Another thing to also check is the robot.txt file of the website. Ensure it is not corrupted and if it is, make adjustments. Also, check to ensure the website is available to be crawled by search engines as well as its verification.
SEO When Changing Domain Name
The domain name plays a very important part in the SEO of the website. For several reasons, you might want to change the domain name of your website but care is needed so you do not lose all your hard work. Following these under-listed steps would make you retain your SEO position even when changing the domain name.
Start with an audit
As with everything that concerns an adjustment to your website, you should run an audit from the start. This lets you see how the website was performing before you made changes.
Create a sitemap for the old domain
A sitemap is an outline of any website. This shows every resource, page and how they are linked across the website. Search engines crawl your website and the sitemap makes it easy for every page on your website to be easily read.
When changing your domain name, it is also important that you update the sitemap of the old website. You should also ensure it is submitted to the search engine so the website as a whole can be crawled.
Set up a 301 redirection
301 redirections are also called permanent web forwarding. They are valuable in linking each of the pages or content of the old domain to the new domain. With this, the search engine is notified that the page being sought has been moved to another link and it would redirect the user to the new page.
Care is needed so you do not omit any page as that would present a 404 page cannot be found to your users.
Check the backlinks
Backlinks are links to your website from other sites and these are vital for SEO ranking. When changing the domain name, you would want to take into account the backlinks you have on the website. Contact these sites and request an update of the backlinks.
If you have a long list of backlinks, you might make out a list first. Beginning from those with higher authority you can work your way till you have reached out to all of them.
Notify the search engine
It is a good idea to send out the change to your search engine so they can index this as well. For Google, it can be done directly in the Google Search Console. By simply going to the console’s options, you add the website and state your ownership of the website.
No harm in double-checking the websites to be assured that all that needs to be done has been done. If a page is missed, you can go back and make adjustments before it affects your SEO rank.
Following these steps given, nothing should affect your SEO when building or redesigning the website. Your SEO ranking should also not be affected when changing your domain name. You can always check and monitor the changes to the website after making adjustments to ensure you did it all well.
When is SEO important?
Altogether, SEO has become an important part of web search. At every stage involved in the making and running of the website, it is important to not overlook the need for the website to be well optimized.
An increased rank on search pages come from the interplay of effective SEO across the website as a whole. So when is SEO important? The answer; at every point of the website building, redesign and running.