When using a search engine such as Google or Bing, almost two-thirds of Internet users click through to one of the top three results returned. If your website doesn’t appear there—or at least on the first page of results—the chances of your site getting organic Web traffic is slim to none.
So how can you increase the chances that your website information reaches its intended audience? Understanding and using search engine optimization (SEO) best practices can help.
Understanding the Algorithms
Google, by far the most popular search engine, processes more than 38,000 searches per second. In order to sort through the 60 trillion individual web pages on the Internet and find the results it believes search engine users want, Google uses an algorithm that evaluates more than 200 criteria.
While the exact formula of the algorithm isn’t released to the public, Google does provide some guidance about SEO that may help you secure your position in search engine results.
Make Your Site Search Friendly
As you’re updating your site, keep these tips from Google in mind.
Even with all the bells and whistles of a sharp-looking website, no design can sell without well-written content by talented writers who are strategizing to get results, according to Search Engine Land. Hire writers who produce content that is precise and concise. Marketable writing balances personality and purpose time and time again.
Solve Your Audiences' Problems
Gone are the days of stuffing your website with keywords in order to rank highest. A smarter strategy is to mirror your content to use some of the exact phrases and questions your readers will be searching for. Readers hunt with an end goal in mind, so toss them a line—embed search phrases or search questions into your content—to bring them to your site.
Link In and Out
Google already knows which sites it views as “important,” so links from those sites to yours make you seem more important, too, and help Google find your site more easily. Provide useful and relevant information, link that information to other sites, and make the unique information on your site so valuable that other reputable sites will want to link to you. According to Google, “Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves ‘important’ weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important.’”
Keep it Fresh
According to Moz, the current theory is that Google evaluates all content to determine its relevance and uses that information to find the best results for the search. If the topic searched needs information that is constantly updated, Google will pull results from the newest information. Moz predicts that Google also evaluates the individual pages on your site to see how much and how often the information is updated.
Do Any Violations Exist?
You bet. Algorithms want puzzles with all the pieces intact, particularly original, valuable information that is safe for users. Sneaky redirects, user-generated spam, and sites covered in search-friendly phrases are considered negative in Google’s quality guidelines. Your site might show up lower in search results, and that plays a huge part in how many users will see your site. According to 2013 research from Chitika, an online ad network, sites on the first page of results get 91.5 percent of search engine user traffic, while page two results get 4.8 percent. If your site shows up on the seventh page of results, you will only end up with 0.1 percent of Google traffic.
The Bottom Line
Be as familiar with your audience as the content you’re selling. Give them what they want in the terms they want. Utilize social media to get the word out. Plan with SEO in mind and enjoy the results—but realize it’s a long-term investment.
Get more tips for optimizing your content for search: