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Understanding SEO

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

This Article Includes:

What does SEO stand for?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

What is included in SEO?

SEO is a combination of content optimisation and a set of actions you take to ensure that your website ranks higher in search engine results.

Content Optimisation for SEO could be done in a number of ways. Identifying the right keywords / keyphrases and uniformly weaving them in the content is one of the most efficient ways of content optimization. So, if you have been able to identify 5-10 keywords / keyphrases that are important to the information and also happen to be the most used cues on the search engine; make sure that you are using these keywords / keyphrases more than once in your content and they are evenly spread out across the content. So, if your web page sells cushion-covers, your keywords / keyphrases could be cushion covers, furnishings, printed cushions, embroidered cushions, floor cushions, vibrant cushions etc. While writing the content for this web page, make sure these words/phrases are spread across the titles/ product description, more than once.

Additionally, designing content that makes it easier for voice assistants to answer queries, can be another effective way of optimising your content. In effect, you should be able to anticipate the cues (keywords) or phrases / questions (key phrases) that people would type in the search engine box to be able to obtain the kind of results that your website content provides.

Set of Actions for SEO are the other features one would include in the website to make it user friendly & interesting. These could be actions like linking your social media channels with your website, obtaining backlinks, making sure that the load time of all web-pages is minimal, designing right navigation for the viewers, designing attractive and uncluttered web-pages etc. This would include all the actions that one would take to ensure a smooth experience for your website visitor. Even better, if this experience is designed in such a way that it prompts surfers to click next pages, spending maximum possible time on your website.

Who needs SEO?

Every website needs to ‘optimise’ its content for Search Engines: Search Engines have a vast database with millions of possible results for each query/ phrase/ question/ keyword. While it reflects all possible results from it’s database in response to a searcher’s cue, it arranges these results in a particular sequence before presenting them as results (we all are familiar with….’About 397,000,000 results (0.73 seconds)’). This sequence is decided by the search engine internal ranking for each webpage (this ranking is dynamic and keeps changing with the latest cues received by search engine bots crawling data from your website).

Research suggests that hardly any viewer/searcher browses beyond the third page search results. Infact, 70% of searchers never go beyond the first page & 90% of this 70% never go beyond the first 6-7 results on the first page. In these circumstances, getting your stuff listed on search results 3rd page or beyond is as bad as not being there because your content will never meet a searcher’s eyeballs.

So then, how does a search engine decide which content is to be displayed in what sequence in the search results? How do some results get featured in the first 5 search results and some are featured on the 10 millionth?

The answer is SEO.

Websites with the right SEO maintain a relationship of mutual trust and confidence with the search engine algorithms and gradually move up the ranking ladder. Search engines constantly rank content on the basis of quality & reliability. Good SEO techniques provide that sense of ‘quality & reliability’ to search engines, leading to improved ranking and exposure over a period of time.

To understand this, let’s look into the savouries shelf of your neighbourhood convenience store. There could be hundreds of brands of savouries available in the market but your neighbourhood convenience store only stocks 5-10 of these on it’s shelves. What prompts the shopkeeper to pick these 5-10 brands of savouries over 100 others? The answer is that the shopkeeper wants to provide the best match to her/his customer’s expectations, while keeping his profits in order. With observation/experience (customer data generated over the period of time), he keeps note of all the brands that got good customer reviews, people came back asking for more (because of quality or advertisement), made value for money customers happy etc. etc. So, he picks up the best ones in each category….fancy and expensive, value for money, gourmet, well advertised etc. and curates a satisfactory inventory of savouries for his customers. So basically he wants his customers to get the feel of, ‘I exactly got the thing I was looking for, so I will come to this shop again as it has things as per my taste and requirements’.

It is exactly this process that makes a search engine decide your content’s ranking in its results. Search engines want to offer the best possible search results to their searchers where there is maximum possibility of customer satisfaction. So if your content and website is able to convince the search engine algorithms about their capability to help a searcher, it will rank your content early in the search results.

SEO practices are all the actions you take to make the search engines develop this confidence in your website content.

How does a website benefit from SEO?

SEO strategies build confidence between your website and search engines. This leads to search engines ranking your website higher on Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). Early ranking in SERPs provides better exposure and higher click rates on your website. When people come to your website finding your link in the SERPs (unpaid), these are called Organic Clicks. Organic clicks are the most valued clicks as these have not been obtained by paid advertisements on search engines. These clicks have been earned by the sheer strength of content quality on your website. Where higher click-rate boosts reach, branding and overall business; if customers come back to your website again (counted as Repeat Rate), it pushes your website ranking further up the ranking ladder.

So, organic results obtained by good SEO can open a flood of opportunities connecting you with the right customer base online.

How can I build my Website’s SEO?SEO tips

Search Engine Algorithms rely on over 200 parameters to determine which website will provide the most relevant answer to the given query. Keeping these parameters updated helps a website move up the ranking ladder ......but gradually.

Tip 1: Identify potential ‘search words and phrases’ a customer might use while looking for the product or service provided by your website. These are your KEYWORDS/KEYPHRASES. Frequently weave them in your website content - titles, description, metadata etc., as much as possible.

Tip 2: Search Engine Algorithms keep an eye on:

  1. How many people click on your website? As the number of clicks increase on your website, the ranking gets better. This could turn out to be a chicken-&-egg story sometimes! As a new provider, your webpage is ranked down under, which limits your capability to win organic clicks & low click rate keeps your ranking further down. Therefore, a new website in its early days, needs to look at innovative ways of just getting customers to click on its web pages. This could be materialised by posting freebies, games, contests or even paid advertising.

  2. How much time do visitors spend on your website? (higher duration leads to a better ranking). If the duration of time spent by a website visitor is equivalent or higher than the industry standards, search engines understand this as interest generating quality content & vice-versa.

  3. How much is the Bounce rate? (people click on the website and leave within a few seconds, without browsing more pages- leads to a downward ranking). Higher bounce rates convey to search engines that although visitors were interested in the subject of your website, they did not find the actual content interesting or usable.

  4. Did customers visit your website ever again? (Repeat customer rate), further improves the ranking of your webpages as search engines interpret this phenomenon as a proof of your useability for searchers/browsers. Repeat customer rate gives an impression to the search engine that your visitors were satisfied with the content quality on your website, and happy and satisfied customers are exactly what they want!

Tip 3: Make sure that images are backed with descriptive keyword rich ‘Alt text’. Search engine bots cannot understand a picture the way humans do, but they are trained to read descriptions. The edit tools provide an option of writing picture description or ‘Alt text’ while uploading pictures on web pages. This description is not visible to website visitors, but helps algorithms understand your picture and reflect it accordingly in search results. Pictures from some very recent web-pages manage to appear higher up in picture results while they are still struggling to rank better in text results ….because the website designer spent time explaining the picture to the bot!

Tip 4: Search engine algorithms gauge your ‘brand popularity’ by measuring:

  1. Likes , comments, followers and reviews on social media channels

  2. Mentions about your business, brand or domain in digital media.

Yes your popularity on social-media might or might not be earning sale-conversions, it can definitely earn you a better space in search engine ranking.

Tip 5: ‘Backlinks’ further cement the trust between your brand and search engines. When blogs, reports, news articles, magazines and other independent web properties publish and recommend your website links, it boosts the search engines confidence in your website too. However, these algorithms keep a close eye on the quality of web properties generating these links and rank your website accordingly. So backlinking from a shady website (maybe a news blog known for printing reviews in exchange of kickbacks) can instead downgrade your ranking. It is typically a case of ‘a person is known by his/her company’. If your website is being courted by reputed independent backlinks, it will boost your own ranking and vice versa!

Tip 6: Also -

  1. Submit your updated sitemaps to search engines as and when required. This helps crawlers index your web pages properly and retrieve them quickly when prompted.

  2. Keep updating and refreshing your website regularly. This indicates your active interest in your business and motivates search engines to upgrade your ranking. Long-standing, static web-pages that have not been updated for a long time send an impression of a closed down or lazy enterprise. Search engines definitely do not want to drive their viewers to inactive or lazy web assets.

Your website’s SERP ranking is constantly adjusted as per these parameters!

Remember, building website ranking via SEO is a gradual process that gets better with constant effort, time and patience.

Not to forget….

While featuring in the first 3 pages of organic search results can do wonders to your website traffic, using unethical means like paid bot clicks and other hacks can cause long term damage. Search engines constantly upgrade their ranking algorithms and keep looking for red flags. An unethical hack might lead to your website being silently blacklisted or pushed way down the ranking ladder as punishment… sooner or later. And yes, they never warn or inform you when they do this to your webpage!

Do not fight or fear SEO!

Befriend it while building a relationship of mutual trust. Follow the impact of your SEO strategy with close observation, keeping tabs of the new changes. If you find a sudden improvement in your website ranking or vice-versa, reflect on your recent promotional practices and take note of what could be working for or against you!

Do you want to grow your business with the SEO strategy? Contact us to learn more about our Digital Self-reliance Program customised for micro / small businesses!

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