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search engine optimization

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

If you are thinking to make the Internet work for you, and help you connect with the targeted audience, you should know what SEO is, the practices involved in SEO, the guiding principles therein, and search algorithm updates.

What is SEO

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is an Internet marketing discipline that involves a series of practices performed on a website and other relevant Internet platforms where your target audience spends their time with a single goal: “winning the trust of targeted users and search engines.”
What is the series of practices in SEO, and what is the purpose of using the term “practices”? I would like to answer the latter first. SEO is an applied science, and it evolves with time based on how users interact or engage online with a business. It’s quite similar to a medical professional who has to exercise the right medical treatment depending upon the patient’s conditions and diagnostic reports. Remember, a doctor despite having years of experience under his or her belt always says he or she is into the medical practice profession.

SEO Practices: A Quick Outline

1. Figure out what your customers are searching for

Without understanding how your target customers are looking for the products or services you offer, you can’t expect to get result from your Internet marketing effort. Keyword research helps you align your effort to your business objectives. Though there are many keyword research tools out there, but considering the authority that Google holds on the Internet, using Google Keyword Planner is the best idea. Fortunately, it’s free! It helps you understand the volume and competition on the user’s query over a period by geography, and other factors. There are many more filter options to narrow down your keyword research.

2. Optimize your web pages for your target keywords

The optimization or promotion is broadly categorized in two parts: On-page and off-page optimization. On-page is a set of SEO activities you perform on your website that you need to promote, while off-page is done on relevant websites or Internet platforms with a sound reputation. On-page SEO is focused on enhancing the user-experience (UX) and making it easily accessible to the search engines. Relevancy of the content and structure of the content and the webpage as a whole is a very important aspect of on-page SEO. Strategy of content development is a broad area which I will take up in my upcoming SEO guide.Google Webmaster Guidelines is a key to building an optimized website.

3. Make sure your website is accessible to both search engines and humans

It’s important that your website is readable to search engine bots or crawlers as well as human beings. This demands a collaborative work of your web developer as well as SEO professional. In most of the cases, clients approach SEO agencies or professionals once their site is ready. This can lead to further development rework on the site as per the recommendations of the SEO expert, which increases your budget unnecessarily. To avoid all this, bring your SEO consultant into picture before you kick off the web development.

4. Misconception About User-Experience

Most of the times website owners mistakenly relate UX to the look and feel of a website or user-interface (UI). It’s generally considered as the task of a graphic or website UI designer. This is a blinkered or narrow approach to the Internet marketing or website optimization. User experience is a holistic thing that creates the perception of a business in the user’s mind, though the experience is digital. The way your website serves the users, thereby helping them to accomplish their jobs from start to end creates a persona of your business. UX has become a key differentiator in today’s economy.

Creating a winning UX demands a collaborative approach. It ropes in EVERYONE in your organization from technical to non-technical and from the top to bottom who contribute to your success. Your digital marketer bridges your company with the customers, therefore, it’s important to take his or her opinion in crafting the UX of your website or any digital product. The more you make your website or product friendlier to the user, the more weightage you get from Google or any other search engine – which translates to your SEO ranking.

5. Get other websites to link to your site

You are confident and experienced – it’s a good thing, but what if a third-person accepts your authority on the subject and recommends you to the audience. It makes a big difference to your worth and acceptance by your audience. The same is about your website. If other websites link to your website, they contribute to the authority of your website and business, and Google takes it seriously in assessing the value of your website against user’s search. This is also called as external-link building. However, it should be done wisely and honestly. Create good content that people would like to refer in their content. Link-building is part of off-page optimization, which is again a broad chapter, and I would dedicate a separate SEO blog to it.

6. Keep monitoring your SEO success

Monitoring and reporting is an inseparable aspect of SEO marketing. You should know how your all Internet marketing efforts are contributing to your website. Most of the businesses limit the monitoring to finding SEO keyword ranking, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. How do your target audience engage with your website or webpage? What does stop them from taking the action you want (conversion)? What is the user’s journey? What do the users think about your business? Get answers to all those queries, and apply them to improve the SEO strategy and get better results. Wondering about how to keep a tab on all. Google has got you covered. Link your website with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster. Third-party SEO tools like SEMrush that customize the SEO findings for you can help you too.

7. Keep a watch on the SEO Updates

Search engine optimization has evolved with the change in human’s online behavior and content consumption patterns. The role of evolving digital technology is of no less significant. All this development has pushed Google and other search engines to enhance their search algorithm that guides results on SERP (search engine results pages) with an intention to provide the best relevant result to the user’s query.

13 Major or CoreHistorical Google Search Algorithm Updates

  1. Fred
  2. Intrusive Interstitials Update
  3. Mobilegeddon
  4. RankBrain
  5. Panda
  6. Penguin
  7. Hummingbird
  8. Pigeon
  9. Payday
  10. EMD (Exact Match Domain)
  11. Page Layout Algorithm
  12. Medic Update
  13. Google BERT Natural Language Processing Update

Apart from these major or so-called core updates, Google has released and keeps on releasing frequent minor update to its search algorithms to respond to the user’s search queries in the best manner. Rolling out of these updates may cause fluctuation in SEO results – sometimes, they can be horrible too!
Hence, an Internet marketing professional has to evolve his or her SEO strategy, action plan and monitoring systems accordingly to keep pace with the change and perform better.

Comment your SEO queries and doubts, I will be glad to respond to them as quickly as possible!

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