“SEO” is one of those buzzwords that everyone knows, but that few people understand. Most of us know that SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and that it tailors our online presence to search engine programs and algorithms like the ones designed by Google. The more attractive our websites look to Google, the higher they’ll rank for relevant queries on Google’s eponymous search engine website. Therefore, the more potential customers will see our businesses.
It’s easy to see the “what” and “why” of SEO. But it’s a whole lot harder to see the how, and Google isn’t helping. Its algorithm and inner workings are closely guarded trade secrets. The best link-building services and SEO experts have to play detective and suss out exactly what Google wants to see and how its priorities are ranked. SEO is a moving target, and an opaque one at that. A/B testing and clever tricks, however, can help SEO pros keep pace with Google’s secret tweaks and changes.
At the core of SEO are certain basic concepts. Google may change its rules and priorities here and there, but a few things always matter in some way and to some degree, explain the SEO experts at LinkGraph.io. Below, we’ll lay out the building blocks of SEO.
Perhaps nothing is so closely related with search engines and SEOs as links. Links are what make this whole thing work: Google indexes the internet through the use of its “spiders,” computer programs that “crawl” the web by moving from link to link recording what they find.
Links are more than a way for Google to get around, though. Google’s algorithm uses links to determine how trusted and popular a website is. When a lot of people link to The New York Times as a reference, for example, Google figures out that it’s a trusted and reputable source and a that their website is important. That may seem obvious, but the important thing is that Google can figure this out without having a human sit down and tell its algorithm the name of every single reputable site.
So more links are better, right? Not necessarily: It’s also important that links to your website come from other reputable websites. The “domain authority” of a website confers some prestige on its links in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
The text on your website is, of course, what tells customers what your business is all about. The same text is read by Google’s search engine spiders. That’s why it’s important to have “keywords” and keyword phrases in your website’s text. If your business is a restaurant, for instance, you should say so: Use the word “restaurant” a fair bit, actually.
Google is getting better and better at recognizing different permutations of words — customers who search for “Chinese cuisine” may still find your restaurant even if your site only says “Chinese food.” Still, it’s best to use different permutations and to do keyword research to determine exactly which keywords your customers are using to find businesses like yours. Don’t assume they call everything by the same names that you do!
Metadata And Beyond
Links and keywords are basic SEO building blocks. But so are trickier and less obvious things. Take images, for instance: Google likes them even though it can’t really see them the way that users can. Google’s spiders read image captions, image tags, and even the filenames of the images you use. There are the other HTML details, including “metadata” like the page title, description, and tags. Using this real estate property is essential to good SEO!
This is where things start to get tricky. As with other elements of SEO, the best practices change with each Google update. Also, messing with HTML isn’t necessarily something that you want to be doing on your own. Be smart: Outsource this task to digital marketing experts who understand each of the building blocks of SEO!