In this guide, we’re going to take a short look at the major aspects of search engine optimization or SEO. SEO is part of an ever-changing discipline that tries to understand search engine algorithms and create websites that will be at the top of the search results. In order to be effective at SEO, you will have to follow several fundamental principles.
Here are some of the crucial elements of any SEO strategy:
- Crawler accessibility
- Content that targets common queries
- Keyword optimization
- Great UX
- Content that is sharable
- Snippet/schema markup
Understanding Search Engines
Without search engines, the internet would be a very different place. In fact, it would probably be unusable in its current form. You could only navigate it through indexing websites that host a variety of links to other websites of interest. In fact, this is pretty much a rudimentary form of a search engine.
Search engines use a process known as crawling and indexing, where small programs follow link after link from website to website, collecting and cataloguing a wide range of information. This information is then ranked according to its relationship to a certain query or keyword.
Search results can be divided into organic, paid and dynamic organic results. The paid results are self-explanatory: companies can pay search engines to have their websites show up as an advertisement. Organic results are the ones achieved through SEO, and dynamic organic results consist of a variety of snippets that you may have noticed from time to time. These snippets can be answer boxes, “People Also Ask” lists, or image carousels. For example, if you search for a movie, you might get a snippet that contains a series of questions about the movie, and an image carousel with the cast.
Working with Search Engines
There are two types of SEO: white and black hat. These two terms come from the hacking community, and in the context of SEO they refer to the nature of the optimization efforts. White hat SEO focuses on the best practices, strategies and techniques that are within the rules of the search engine provider, while black hat SEO uses techniques and strategies that attempt to exploit, hack or spam search engines in order to gain results faster and for a lower cost. The main drawback of black hat SEO is that it can lead to consequences such as penalties for the ranking of the website in question, or even its de-indexing/delisting.
In the interest of the long-term well being of your business, you want use a white hat strategy. This means that the main focus of your efforts should be to provide value to your users and fulfilling their inherent intent for a query. For example, if someone is looking to purchase tickets for a concert, the search engine results should be relevant to that desire. The goal of your SEO efforts should be to provide users with the content they desire as fast as possible.
Think of a content strategy that fulfills this need for information within your niche: you have a number of articles related to common issues, you offer a photo carousel that is choc full of information, and you provide content that answers direct questions from your users. This will all add up and signal to the search engine that your website is a source of authority, leading to higher rankings for your desired keywords.
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