Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has garnered a lot of attention recently as Google and other search engines have increased the complexity of their algorithm. For most businesses, the change has been relatively minor – just one more update in an unending pile of them – but for companies that want to succeed in the online market, these changes are profound.
For those not aware, Google’s search engine basically matches up keywords within websites to search queries. A decade ago, that was the level of sophistication of all search engines and companies could stuff their homepages with keywords to attract the attention of these search engines. In the last few years, however, Google and others have become much more sophisticated.
Now, Google’s algorithm ‘learns’ from searches. Although it still looks for keywords, it also looks for reputable links and backlinks to valuable content. Keyword stuffing has died out as a way to generate interest and quality writing has taken its place.
The most important aspects of good SEO are:
1. Applicable keywords
Although keyword stuffing will lower your website score with Google’s algorithm, keywords are still necessary to signify what your page is about. Search engines look at keyword placement in both articles and headers to determine whether your website is what it appears to be.
2. Quality content
Articles on your website are judged by the quality of their links and backlinks, but you must produce good articles to get those links. High-quality articles that generate and keep interest are ranked higher than articles that don’t get hits.
3. Links and Back-links
Although these two aspects are similar, they are not identical. Links go from your article to content supporting your writing, while back-links come from other articles citing the authoritative nature of your article. Having both – to and from websites that Google rates as high quality – improves the chances that the algorithm will rate your website higher in the search results.
Although there are other factors involved in search engine ratings, these three seem to be the most important. The caveat here is that Google – and other search engines – use proprietary systems to program their algorithm and don’t release the standards they work with. This keeps less than reputable companies, usually, from ‘gaming’ the system.
It also has created an entire industry dedicated to optimizing websites to score high on internet searches. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is one of the fastest growing industries in the world with companies springing up everywhere. This, of course, has led to a lot of competition in the market.
According to the management of Falcon Digital Marketing of Houston, Texas, “There is a difference between understanding how SEM works and having the resources and experience necessary to create a successful SEM campaign. Businesses now have a choice between hiring a full-time search engine optimization division for their online business or going to an outside consulting firm that specializes in online marketing. For most, outsourcing SEM makes sense.”
Although the creation of an entire industry may have been unintentional, Google has created a highly competitive market that online retailers and businesses cannot ignore. Success in search engine rankings can mean the difference between having a frequently traveled website that is considered authoritative while acting as a cornerstone of business and being forgotten in some dark corner of the internet.
By giving their customers what they want, Google has moved online marketing to the next level and forced online companies to keep pace. The customers are the ones who have benefited the most from Google’s innovation.