Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is the practice of getting your website to rank better in search engines by altering certain characteristics to take advantage of how search engines rank websites for search results.
While that might be a mouthful for some people, it’s a relatively simple process but you need to understand everything that’s involved.
What is SEO?
The goal of SEO is to get your website to rank higher than other competing websites when a user searches for a certain term. For example an SEO company may want to rank for a query such as ‘SEO Dublin’.
You optimize so that search engines know that your pages are about a certain keyword or phrase, which is usually a term that describes your business, such as “brown shoes” or something like your brand.
A Two-Part Process: On-Page and Off-Page SEO
There are two parts to most search engine optimization campaigns. One occurs on your website and the other occurs from it.
On-site optimization involves ensuring that your website is built in a way that search engines can understand better. This involves altering page titles, content keyword composition, meta keywords and even the structure of your website so that it meshes together better.
The goal of on-site optimization is to ensure that every page of your website can be reached and that search engine spiders know immediately what your website is about.
While the goal of on-site optimization is to make search engines can easily traverse your pages, you often end up with a website that is easy for people to navigate too.
Off-site search engine optimization is a bit more complicated the general idea is that you’re building up other properties that support your website. With a bit of tweaking, things like titles can also help convert visitors into paying customers while helping your website’s rank in the results pages.
This can involve guest posting, blog commenting, forum signature links, top site lists, article submission, social bookmarks and more. Depending on the type of SEO that you’re trying to achieve, you might also need to submit your website to local directories or global directories to see a rank increase in local and global searches.
One side effect of proper off-site optimization is that your visitors will convert to customers more easily. You may even see an influx of visitors come from those properties that are meant to be the pillars supporting your website in the eyes of search engines. The reason for this is that a well-built property for off-site SEO can often rank well all by itself, which means that you may own more of the search result real estate than just the results for your business’s domain.
Can The Success of SEO Be Measured?
The simple answer is that SEO is one of the few advertising-related statistics that can be measured.
Unlike other methods of measurement, there’s also no estimation involved. Just cold, hard numbers that can tell you how well your website is performing.
The way you measure the results of SEO is by using an analytic tool.
While there are a large number of tools available, even the most basic analytic tool should be able to show you three things:
- The amount of visitors your website received in time period.
- The keywords used by visitors to reach your website.
- Websites that referred a visitor to your own website.
More advanced tools can show you everything from the bounce rate of your visitors to your competitor’s ranking compared to your own.
The way these statistics are used to measure success involves measuring how your website’s traffic has trended. If it is on the increase for a certain keyword while your ranking is also increasing, then the SEO that was performed on your website was successful. If it shows anything else, then you can safely say that it wasn’t.
SEO Isn’t Just About SEO Anymore
Search engine optimization is a comprehensive field of studying how search engines rank websites. That’s why building links and optimizing your website is just the beginning.
Recently, things like your website’s social media presence have been proven to boost your search engine rankings.
Even before that, things like having a surplus of Google Pluses on your website allowed visitors to trust your content more. This would then reduce your bounce rate, which is yet another factor that most search engines weigh when determining how “useful” your website is to your visitors.
Further past that, things like search engine marketing, article marketing and offline advertising can all make your SEO marketing efforts more efficient. While the benefits that these things offer are indirect, they’re still absolutely vital to any business that wants to be successful.