The ABCs of SEO – Search Engine Optimization made easy to understand. Part 1.

Every business needs a web site but if that site isn’t easy to find by your prospects you’re losing potential sales. And guess who those sales are going to? YOUR COMPETITION. Especially the ones who have higher visibility and search engine ranking than you. That’s why it is so important for your site to be as optimized as possible.

Ranking is where your web site appears after typing words in the search box of a search engine (i.e. Google, Yahoo or Bing). That resulting page is known as the search engine results page or SERP. The words that are typed into that search box are known as keywords, and every web site should have industry and company related keywords associated with it.

SERP Facts

  • Google’s first page captures 89% of all clicked traffic. (Most searchers don’t even go to the second page.)
  • The top-ranked result on the first page captures 42% of all clicked traffic, with each subsequent result below that receiving fewer and fewer clicks.

What does that mean? That means that a) if you don’t appear on the first SERP there’s a good chance you may not be found on the internet and b) the higher you appear on the SERP the better your chances of being clicked-on. Being within the first three positions should be everyone’s SERP goal.

How do you rank higher on the SERP?
To answer that question you must first understand how search engines think.

It is the intent of all search engines to put the most valuable information forward for it’s users, so they rank based on a combination of two things – Relevance and Authority.

Search engines constantly “crawl” and index web pages. They look at the keywords and text content and match the relevancy of each to your industry and business. They also look for links back to your site from other sites. Search engines believe that if your site is linked to by others, you must be relevant. (Especially if that source is within your industry. That adds to your authority –more on that in a minute.)

All search engines periodically return and re-crawl sites. They like to see change. The more often a site changes the more they view you as relevant and authoritative (they really hate stagnant sites).

As important as keywords are (and they are very important) search engines love “authoritative” sites. A site is considered authoritative if it is linked to a lot, has constantly changing information, keywords match page content, are industry relevant and if the site is “all-over” cyberspace.

So, how do you move up the SERP ladder?

  1. It’s associating the best (most relevant) keywords – the words someone types into the search box – with your site. And that means all forms of a word (singular, plural, and different variations of words) or phrases someone may use to find you. When developing a list of keywords, try thinking of what users looking for your business might type in the search box. Don’t underestimate the value of spending some time thinking about your site’s keywords – they are the backbone to SEO.
  2. It’s being as authoritative as possible. Simply stated, your authority is based on others linking to your site. The higher the authority of the site linking back to you, the higher authority your site receives. In other words, a link from CNN carries much more weight than a link from your nephews family page. And you get links by appearing to be as much of a leader in your industry as possible. Industry leaders offer insight worthy of being read – which in turn garners links back to your site. Read and answer blogs – or better yet write a blog revolving around your industry. Participate in industry forums and answer questions. Contact industry associations and trade publication sites and request a link to your site. Get listed in industry directories. These are all ways of being viewed as an industry leader.

These are just some SEO basics. There are a variety of technical and programming methods along with a few “secrets” that should be implemented with every SEO strategy, but I’ll divulge those in an other article.

Moving up the SERP ladder isn’t expensive – in fact it really doesn’t have to cost anything – but it is important to recognize that it does takes time and some effort. In the beginning it takes a number of search engine crawls before that good relevancy starts to takes hold. It also takes time to start to be considered an authority. Basically you’re building an on-line reputation – and that takes time. However, if you’re persistent and keep a visible and refreshed on-line presence, I can guarantee that you will steadily move up in the SERP rankings.

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About Ray Bauer

I am an independent designer and marketer operating my own enterprise, rBAUERdesign, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I have an understanding of, and dedication to, the design and marketing process of firms in need of communication solutions. I bring my design, layout, creative and art direction experience and knowledge as well as applied and tested marketing applications from the advertising agencies and marketing firms I've worked at for over 25 years to every job I touch.
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