Welcome to the confusing zoo world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Between Pandas and Penguins, Google has website owners spinning their wheels with little to show for it. In the good old web days all a webmaster had to do was create a website, submit it to a few search engines and wait. However, with the exponential growth of the internet and the thousands of new sites created every month, that type of passivity will get you nowhere fast.
It does not matter how classy your products are, how competitive your prices or how eloquent your writing is if no one is there to see it. If you have a website that you want to drive traffic to, you need to adopt specific tactics and methods that will ensure that your site gets noticed by the search engines and your potential visitors.
So what is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a web marketing strategy that analyzes how search engines will identify pages containing a your particular keyword, how those pages will rank when compared to other pages with similar keywords and then adjusting the pages of your website to maximize your position in those rankings. Sound like a mouthful? In short Search Engine Optimization is the practice of trying to convince the search engine that your web pages are the best choice for your keyword or keyword phrase.
Onpage vs Offpage Optimization
There are two parts to a successful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) effort. Onpage optimization and Offpage optimization.
Onpage optimization is the only component of SEO that you as the webmaster will have complete control over and it only comprises about 20% of the success of your SEO effort. Onpage SEO optimization involves ensuring that your page(s) have quality content that‘s relevant to the keywords and that the page is easy for the search engine spiders to crawl. Off page optimization provides the word of mouth validation in terms of backlinks and other links to your website.
As you’re developing your SEO strategy keep this is mind; the search engine is neither your friend nor enemy. Like you, they’re in business to provide a service. This service is to ensure that the search results they provide their customers are relevant and offer value. To this end they will promote you, bury you on page 15 of the search results or ban you all together. Therefore developing a comprehensive yet ethical Search Engine Optimization strategy is very important.
Onpage Optimization -the Details.
One of the first things usually mentioned in reference to Search Engine Optimization is keyword density. Keyword density is the number of times your keyword appears on your web page when compared to the other words on the page. [(Number of times keyword(s) used ÷ Total Number of words on page) x 100 = Keyword density%]
In my opinion, no one should lose any sleep over keyword density. It should be used as a guideline and is but a small piece of a well developed SEO strategy. Keyword density should always be as low as is possible with a maximum goal of two to three percent. Any higher than hurts you with the search engine and your reader.
There was a time when stuffing your page with your target keyword would be ok. The thought process was that if web page ‘A’ contained the target keyword 13 times and web page ’B’ contained the target keyword 43 times; web page ‘B’ should rank higher. Those days are gone and you’re not doing yourself any favors by including too many keywords on a page. No matter how relevant you think they are.
I can’t stress enough that the most important aspect of your SEO effort is to have a page with high quality content. The first and most obvious reason is your visitor. If your page is poorly written, nothing else matters because your visitor will not stay on the page long enough.
The second reason is that search engines are just plain smarter these days. The major search engines are implementing a technique call Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). Which is based upon Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) and while not developed for search engines the technology is proving to be invaluable to companies like Google.
The scientific particulars of this technology are way beyond the scope of this post but it can be important to your knowledge of SEO to be aware of it. Basically, LSI is a method of analyzing the relationships that exist between words.
For example if you’re optimizing your page for the keyword:
Search engines utilizing LSI technology would place more value on a page that mentioned floors, carpet and HEPA filters than a page without any of these references.
In other words, LSI matches words with concepts and uses that knowledge to access how truly relevant your web page content is. Using this technology the search engine can tell the difference between two websites with the keyword drive and return either a result about cars or golf depending on the visitor’s request.
While I’m sure that there are many people out there trying to figure out ways to circumvent this technology, the effort is pointless. The LSI technology was designed to mimic human language associations and relationships. So if you have a well written web page there’s no need to do anything else because you’ve already created the relationships.
Quality content that appeals to your target visitor should be your first goal. From that point, you can use keyword density and/or LSI as a way of measuring how well your page stays on topic. Think about it, a visitor who visits a poorly written site of little value will not stay and more than likely will not buy anything. And your customer is who you are building the website for, right?