Search Engine Optimization Basics
Search engines like Google and Bing are the table of contents of the internet, helping you find the content that is most relevant to the search terms you enter into them.
When a user does a search, they will see a list of pages relating to the query they have entered. For any given topic, there are likely many matches. Most people only look at the first one or two pages of results, so it’s important that you rank well for the terms you are targeting.
There are many factors both on and external to your website that will affect how a page ranks for a given search. This post will cover some basics.
How Links Lend Credibility
Search engines don’t want to waste your time by showing you content that is irrelevant. They need a way to determine which pages provide the most value for a given search and how credible those pages are.
One way to accomplish this is to look at how many other websites link to a website or page and how popular those websites are.
If page A links to page B, then it may be seen as a vote for page B by page A. This can apply to both internal pages on your own site and links to pages on other websites.
Often search engines will assign a value to a particular page and then divide that value between the links on the page, to determine how much of that value should be passed to each page. This is referred to as link equity or link juice.
Not all links on a page will receive the same benefit. Often links that are higher up on the page will receive a greater share than those that appear lower on the page.
A webmaster can also ask search engines not to pass link equity to a particular page by setting the rel attribute to nofollow. There are many reasons why a webmaster may want to do this, including to discourage website visitors from posting spammy links in blog comments or social media posts.
<a href="https://www.google.com" rel="nofollow">Google</a>
Since linking to too many irrelevant sites can hurt the reputation of a website, it’s common for webmasters to discourage search engines from rewarding most external pages, except for those that they deem most worthy.
Even if a link does not directly pass link juice to a page, it can still be a great source of traffic and have an indirect impact on rankings.
As a marketer, it is important to consider what terms potential visitors may search for when planning your content strategy. This can help you determine what content searchers are looking as you brainstorm ideas for new content.
In the past, it was common for webmasters to stuff their pages with the keywords they wished to rank for. This often lead to a poor experience for readers, with unnatural sentences that were awkward to read.
Many search engines now evaluate the overall theme of a page, instead of simply looking at the density of a particular keyword. One of the ways that they do this is by looking for related words that frequently appear together for a given topic. These are referred to as LSI keywords.
The search engines are smart and will look at the content of your site, but sometimes we want to emphasize what our pages are about. We can do this by using META information. This information is contained in the header section of a page.
The title tag is often what search engines will display as the link to your website. It is always a good idea to load this with two or three of your most relevant keywords from the page. This will help entice searchers to click on your link.
<title>Web Design Melbourne Florida | Nautic Studios - Digital Marketing & IT</title>
The meta description is often used by search engines as the description that appears in search results. While it does not directly affect rankings, it will give searchers a better idea what a page is about. Pages with accurate, compelling descriptions tend to have higher click-through rates.
<meta name="Description" content="Nautic Studios builds responsive, marketing oriented websites and helps customers to get found online. We specialize in web design, branding and SEO.">
Each page on your site should have a title tag and a description tag. The title for each page should be unique, containing keywords relevant to that page.
Images and Alternative Text
Search engines only understand text. They don’t understand what your pictures are about, unless you tell them. When writing the code for your website, you can add the alternate text attribute to the img tag. This will let the search engines know what your image is about. It is best to do this for any image that is not purely decorative.
<img src="get-in-touch.jpg" alt="Get in touch" />