It doesn’t matter how great your work is if no one can find it. Other articles will describe precisely what you have to do to stand out. But right now, it is vital to understand why you ought to dedicate a few hours per week towards appeasing search engines.
1. HOW SEARCH ENGINES SEE YOUR SITE
Archive (Internet) — >Folder (Web Site) –> File (Web Page).
The internet is nothing but a series of interconnected websites. As an archive, it has grown to become the world’s most extensive directory of folders.
Think of your page as nothing more than another folder of value to online users. Each page on your site is a file in your folder offering quality that satisfies the interests of users.
You start to think about your digital business in these understandable terms, and the mystery of search engine success begins to wane. Archive – Folder – File.
But how exactly do you help people realize that your folder contains the most relevant files in such a vast depository?
Initially, you needed to be a detective to find what you were looking for back when the internet was merely a bunch of random clusters of FILE TRANSFER PROTOCOL locations. Don’t fret the technical stuff. The internet was gradually simplified.
From its infancy, the internet developed into a system that allowed users to find relevant files through the use of KEYWORDS. Thus the search engine was born.
Believe it or not, GOOGLE was not the first search engine, though it is now the most popular. They have developed the most reliable system for crawling through the digital archives, indexing folders and making the most useful files available to the world, at the click of a button.
Now the use of a search engine is practically akin to walking into a magical library. Think Hogwarts. You snap your finger, and the most pertinent information flies into your hands. And since there happens to be a formula for this coded wizardry, why wouldn’t you want to understand how the backend of the system works?
2. UNDERSTANDING HOW SEARCH ENGINES WORK
Search engines have way too much to comb through. They also happen to face the burden of accuracy amidst clutter and chaos.
Though they have dedicated robots, crawlers and spiders sent to index the hundreds of millions of websites online, these laborers need to conserve energy to be productive.
Despite the extensive work put into creating search algorithms, search engines can’t possibly take the time to examine every detail of every page. They prioritize by carrying out specific functions on your website.
If you want search engines to choose you, this is where you need to pay attention.
As machines, search engines scan critical aspects of your site and its code to know what you offer and how much value users may attain.
They scan your URL to get an idea of what your website is all about. HINT! You may want to leave a signal of your product/service in your URL name if it is not too late. Eg Manchesterusedcameras.com (This is an blatant a hint a URL can offer.)
No worries, if you want your first name to be your domain name. Just be sure to include relevant information in the path section of your URL. Search engines give you points for that too.
Search engines scan your page TITLES to register if you are a match for user queries.
They scan your HEADERS to understand what sort of information you are prioritizing on various pages.
They log your DESCRIPTIONS for a quick summary of your pages.
They check for KEYWORD matches and how often they appear on your page. They assume the frequency of keywords found on a page indicates a close relation to a possible search query. Umm… I know what you are thinking. Search engines have thought about it too. Include a keyword too often on the same page, and you may be considered a spammer. Not good. Not good at all.
They even check for how often users CLICK THROUGH your website. Hence why engaging content ought to be one of your objectives.
Search engines scan for IMAGES, VIDEOS and TAGS to understand just how much work you have put into your content.
They scan for LINKS to see if you are recommended by other sites they trust. Plus, they want to know who you trust. It gives them a better idea of how reliable you are. Starting to sound like the mob.
And when it comes to site speed, these search engine robots don’t need to think about it. If it takes them too long and too much energy to go through your website, they correctly assume that users will have a hard time browsing your page. Do not neglect site speed!
Search engines collect all this information, send it to their database and try to match user keywords with the best available content.
People log on to query interfaces, enter their keywords, and if you have done enough to assist your website in being noticed and respected by the search engine then POP! Out comes your site on the first page, a marketers dream.
But getting to the first page takes work. You need to be rated highly by search engines to begin driving organic traffic. If not, your folder rarely comes up when people are looking for information in the magical library.
Make it your business to stand out so that your files are retrieved. Update as often as possible, think about your customer’s experience, create campaigns, consider how advertising may help, and get ready to work.
3. BE KIND TO YOUR SEARCH ENGINES
Understand that not all search engines are made to work in the same way. That is why your search results may vary from one query interface to another. It all depends on the algorithm selected and its search process. But all search engines will follow rules that anyone can learn.
It is important to be ethical, to focus on quality as opposed to obsessing over inventive methods of “beating the system.” I don’t say this to be utopian or idealistic, but rather logical.
Take, for example, if you get away with loading up your website with weak backlinks to drive traffic, it will only be a matter of time till search engines penalize you.
And on a less selfish consideration, let’s say you continue to get away with driving traffic through manipulated content and corner-cutting strategies.
You show up when users search for information, but your content is subpar.
Eventually, online users will stop relying on their search results. How will search engines know? There is an algorithm for that. Bounce rates will increase over the search query and adjustments will be made to source out the black hat techniques being used. Then we all suffer (being dramatic). It’s a pain in the neck having to relearn new online laws when you were already thriving off previous guidelines.
Thus it is clear, trying to cheat search engines will either result in you cheating yourself out of success; or you cheating the rest of us out of rules we took the time to understand.
You’ll always have your rotten apples, don’t be one. Still, if you are diligent and honest, you often won’t have to change much in your approach. Algorithm changes will rarely affect those playing by the rules.
Focus on value, quality, consistency, and relevance. With time, the search engines will respond in your favor.
P.S, PLEASE REMEMBER!
Though Google is the most popular search engine, it is not the only one available to you. Other lesser known search engines just may be more generous when reviewing and indexing your site for traffic. Some will respond better than Google would if you advertised through them. Some favor in-depth content. And some just want you to make them a priority, so they reward you with quicker rankings.
But perhaps the most glaring opportunity: since most site managers tend to ignore the search algorithms of other engines, not named Google, you may face less competition by deciding to shift your focus.
But take this advice with a grain of salt, I focus on Google.