What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process or science (and sometimes an art in itself) of maximizing the visibility of websites in search engines, in the results they generate and getting the optimum level of relevant traffic directed to one’s site, thus the word optimization is used. This involves a lot more than one would have guessed, from the way that a site is structured, the manner in which it connects to other websites, to the words used in the main areas of the website.

It is common knowledge and now statistically proven that the higher up or earlier a website appears on a search engines results page, the more traffic it is likely to get from the users of that search engine. The second factor to influence traffic is frequency of appearance on the results page, or how many times a certain website appears on a search engine’s results page. The primary or basic goal of search engine optimization is to maximize both these aspects of appearance to direct more traffic towards a website from a search engine.

Search engines use internet bots called ‘crawlers’ or ‘spiders’ to index websites on the World Wide Web and keep their indexes updated. This process is called crawling or to put it in easier terms, crawling is the process of reading and cataloging websites on the internet. In collaboration with these spiders, algorithms are written to generate results from the indexes created by these internet spiders. The process or methods through which, firstly, a website is made easier to index for a search engine’s spiders and secondly, made as responsive as possible to the algorithms of search engine, is what a large part of search engine optimization is all about.

Why it matters?

Although it is possible and necessary to generate traffic, get recognition and build interest for your website through social media, advertising and other forms of traffic to attract visitors to a website, search engines are the backbone of any website’s publicity and visibility. This is due to two major reasons.

Firstly, search engines are the virtual highways through which the majority of internet traffic flows and finds its destinations. According to Forbes magazine, at the end of 2013, Google made up 40% of all internet traffic. And that is just Google alone. So if a website is not doing well in its relationship with search engines, it is literally missing out on the majority of the traffic found on the internet.

Secondly, an essential quality of search engines is their ability to generate and direct targeted traffic towards a website – in easier words, visitors who are interested in exactly what a certain website has to offer. These targeted visitors, that a search engine provides a website, are an indispensable component of success on the web and the growth of a website, since they can be (and mostly are) a single major source of publicity, exposure and revenue to a degree that no form of marketing can ever compensate for. Thus, investing in SEO is crucial to the prosperity of any internet venture due to stakes involved.

CLASSIFICATION OF SEO

SEO techniques are classified in many ways, but one classification is of a legal or procedural nature. And that is of BLACKHAT SEO versus WHITEHAT SEO with GREYHAT SEO being a no-man’s land of sorts between the two.

BLACKHAT SEO consists of techniques, which are disapproved of by search engines and in some cases not tolerated, to the point that they can lead to a website being penalized, which means losing ranking or being completely removed from the search engine results. They all have one thing in common, which is the fact that they revolve around deceiving or tricking the search engine and its algorithms into producing higher rankings and better results for the website. They are not geared towards creating better content and developing a committed user base or content visitors. They are concerned with climbing to the top of the search results page through tricks. An example of BLACKHAT SEO is the use of the same color for background and a body of text hidden in it.

WHITEHAT SEO can be defined as optimization done within the guidelines set by the search engine.

The following is an elaborative list of commonly employed SEO techniques:

• Making the website abundant in keyword-rich text and key phrases to anticipate as many search queries as possible. It includes the addition of relevant keywords to the Meta tags of the website.

• Creating dense and unique title tags for every page. It helps search engines understand the contents of a page by providing them a quick reference.

• The creation of media content such as press clippings, e-zines or newsletters to maintain a threshold of inbound links.

• Maintaining the search engine saturation at an optimum level and making regular comparisons with competitor websites. (Search engine saturation is a term denoting the quantity of pages of website that have been indexed by search engines. It is a measure of how efficient optimization efforts have been and are a good marker of the site’s visibility and accessibility.)

• Using online resources such as Google Trends and Google Analytics to understand current online behaviors and patterns in context of what is trending.

• Varying search phrases and employing them in the first 100 words of content.

• Employing a back link from a web directory.

• The use of canonical Meta tag or 301 directs to achieve URL normalization in case of multi URL web pages.

• Crosslink between pages of the same site.

• Providing greater number of links to the main pages of the website.

• Using other websites to link back to the original.

• Employing a mixture of keywords and key phrases in conjunction with brand/business being promoted.

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