For the uninitiated, SEO means Search Engine Optimization. This is a fancy term for having a website that shows up in Google (or other search engine) searches for relevant keywords. In other words, if I search for a local plumber, I want to find a local plumber. If I am a plumber, I would like to show up on page 1 of the search engine results page (SERP).
It is the search engines’ job to evaluate all of the websites that answer what the searcher is looking for and to deliver the highest quality sites that most accurately fit the search parameters.
Unfortunately, many SEO companies have a reputation for trying to manipulate the search engine results. Google continues to try to ferret out “black hat” strategies. Once they suspect bad behavior, they will either downgrade that site or delete it from their index. Companies using these SEO companies may see their websites disappear from Google.
So should website owners abandon the idea of SEO altogether? Absolutely not.
Statistics prove that having high rank on search engines translates into higher revenue for companies on the Internet. So search engine optimization is critical. The good news is that since Google is committed to returning the most relevant search results, they have published guidelines that help website developers design and write the sites that not only receive high rank on the search engines, but also meet the expectations of those who are looking for those sites.
It is Google’s suggestion that SEO be built into the website design. They admit that the page layout, navigation, structure, and on-page optimization, including H-tags, alt tags for images, SEO-friendly page titles and descriptions, and even URL’s all make a difference when returning results. Google now also admits that they look for “social” signals. In other words, having a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a YouTube video or Slide Share slide show all improve the chances of a website achieving good search engine results.
However, the top criteria for Google and other search engines is good content. Search engines now have built-in grammar and spell checkers, they look at sentence structure and even the grade level a page is written at. Google also periodically “crawls” the site and rewards new and fresh content. This makes having an active blog one of the best ways to improve SEO. Since backlinks are also key elements in Google’s world, having “sharable” content in blogs and social sites is also important.
The bottom line is that today’s SEO is about having well-designed, well-written website – visible to search engines and interesting and valuable to human viewers.