Today we will be discussing how to get your content seen in the digital world. With billions of webpages, it can be difficult to bring traffic to your website. Without knowledge in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and inbound marketing, most company websites, personal websites, and blogs can go unseen; buried deep within the rankings. This guide will help you understand how search engines work and how to use that knowledge to achieve a better ranking and therefore bring in more traffic to your personal or business content.
First we will discuss exactly how search engines work. Search engines use three processes to find, index, and rank all webpages on the World Wide Web.
- Crawling: The process of finding new content. The search engines finds a webpage and follows every link on that webpage, then follows every link on everyone of those webpages, and so on. In this fashion, the search engine can find almost every webpage that exists.
- Indexing: After visiting the webpages from their crawling search, the search engines index each webpage away in a large data base. This makes it so the search results can be found very rapidly.
- Ranking: The final process is the rank each webpage receives for the given search. This is the most stressed step for SEOs and SEMs. The search engines use a formula to search the pages in their index to find the most relevant webpages. Relevance is determined by having keywords, links from your site, links to your site, how popular the pages are that link to you, how many times your site has been searched for, and many other factors. In this manner, it determines what rank each webpage will be displayed as.
Now that we know how search engines work, lets discuss how we as SEOs and SEMs can leverage this information. First we need to have our content seen by the crawlers. We assume that because our website is launched, it is visible to the search engine. Many times, pages of content of our website go unseen because there is never a HTML link to that page of the website. Remember, crawlers can only see what is linked to via HTML, that includes all pages of your site. So what does this mean for us? That we need to have links to every main page of our site on the homepage. This can be as simple as having an index at the bottom or on the side that categorizes all of your sites content in a simple, user friendly fashion.
So now the entire site can be seen and indexed by the search engines, but how do we move up in rank? There are over 200 elements in the formula and if you are curious, here is a link to all of them. Moz also has their own list through testing, and you can find that list here. 200 factors seem like a lot to work with especially starting off new. However, they are not all weighed the same. Title tags and keywords are the most important factors that we can change. Linking is also very important which we will discuss a little further down. So title tags are HTML’s title element. This can be coded as seen below.
This title tag is arguably the most important factor in SEO. Having as many of your most important keywords in this title is even more beneficial. Keep in mind though that search engines only display 65-75 characters of your title tag. So try and keep it under that limit if at all possible. If it is crucial to get in some final keywords over that limit, that is okay but try and keep the most important keywords as close to the front of the title tag as you can. After you have a solid, keyword enriched title tag for your site, repeating it with no or slight changes close to the top of your homepage is very beneficial as well.
We can also use keywords outside of our title tag. Having keywords placed close to the top of different pages on your site can help draw in more diverse traffic. There are two types of keywords, long tail and short tail. Short tailed keywords are general topics such as “pants”. Many people aim to be the top of the search ranks for such keywords. However many times people are not ready to buy when they search such general topics. Long tail keywords make up 70% of the searches but one specific long tail key word might only be searched a few times a day. However, these rankings are much more important. When someone searches for “dark brown dress pants size 30” they practically have their wallet in their hand. This is the difference between heavy, uninterested traffic or small, specified traffic. At the end of the day, your website will do better with the later.
There are two other factors when dealing with keywords and choosing which ones will be the best; inverse document frequency and co-occurrence. inverse document frequency is the practice of using less common key words so your site will be ranked higher when those specific keywords are searched for. This ties in with long tailed keywords but they do not necessary have to be long, just have a higher rarity. Co-occurrence is the practice of using words that are usually pared together. This will help your rankings when people search for one of the keywords. For example, Space Needle and Seattle Tourist Attraction are very similar and if a site has both of those keywords than it will most likely rank higher when someone searches for one or the other.
Finally, the last factor we will discuss is linking. The more sites that link to your site increases your rank. However, these cannot just be any sites doing the linking. In other words, all sites are not equal. The more popular a site, the stronger a link. For example, if someone links to this blog that only has 5 followers, that will not do much for me. On the other hand if someone with 100,000 followers links to me, that would do wonders for my rankings. Popularity is not the only factor in linking though. Quality is also weighed in. The number of links to your site helps your rank as well. To help the number of links you receive, make sure your content on your site is of high quality and user friendly.
So to tie all of this together, SEO and SEM can be a main part of your inbound marketing campaign. With ranking high in search engines, high quality customers will come to you for answers to their problems. Companies, individuals, and bloggers can all incorporate SEO and SEM into their sites to increase high quality traffic. A few tools and white papers to help the beginners out are listed below. If you found this guide helpful, follow my blog for more quality content in the digital marketing world. Good luck with optimizing your website for search engines, you got this.
SEO and SEM tools and white papers: