Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process building the strength and trust of a website to rank higher in the search engine results. The organic results are simply the free listings in the results. Although there are many search engines, Google controls almost 70% of internet traffic so that should be the main focus of any SEO campaign.
Google has become part of our lives. Think about it, if you want to know something, what do you do? You Google it. That’s the way almost everyone looks for information and services today. You’d be hard pressed to find an encyclopedia or Yellow Pages these days, but chances are you won’t have to reach too far to grab your cell phone or your computer keyboard.
If you want to know how far away the moon is, where the closest bagel shop is or which private school to send your kids to, you’re likely to type your search into Google and click through the results. But, if you’re like most people, you won’t ever make it past the first page of the results.
So the formula for success is clear. Ensure your site shows up on the first page of Google for the terms that most people would type in when looking for your business.
How Does Google Work?
Google is a relevancy based search engine that makes 99% of their income from selling Pay-Per-Click Ads (PPC) that show up on the top of and on the side of the organic results (free results). Google really wants to show the MOST RELEVANT websites for the keywords that someone types in their query. Their entire business model is solely based on providing the MOST RELEVANT results so users will choose Google when they are performing a search. The more traffic that Google can control on the internet, the more they can charge businesses for their paid advertising (PPC).
Notice I said “Relevant” and not “Best”. Google has no way of knowing which restaurant has the best Mexican food, which plumber provides the best service or which private school gives their students the best education. Google uses a complex, probability based algorithm with hundreds if not thousands of individual ranking factors to determine relevancy. Although the ranking factors and their importance have changed over the years, there are two main factors that Google has to take into consideration.
What’s Google Looking for Anyway?
The biggest factors that Google uses to rank a website are called “on-page” optimization and “off-page” optimization. Although Google’s algorithm is top secret, we can get a really good idea of what they consider important by looking at the sites that currently rank on the first page. These are the sites that Google considers the “most relevant” to the search query and we can then reverse engineer the site to determine why it’s ranking so well. Once we have that information, we can use it to then rank a website for the same terms by taking what we learned and making the site we are working “more relevant” than the sites on the first page.
On-page SEO is really just what it sounds like. It’s making sure that the words on your website match up with the terms you would like to rank for. They need to be included on the page a certain amount of times (based on the research of what Google is looking for) and be included with other related terms that Google finds to be related and also highly relevant. Other “on-page” factors include your site’s URL, page titles, meta descriptions, internal linking between pages on your site, how many pages a site has and even how many words are on the pages. All these factors need to be in balance and are different for every website because they are all based on each other. For example, if your URL contains your keywords, you would want to have that keyword on your page LESS than if the keyword wasn’t in the URL. This is just one example of the balance that Google is looking for. Although the “on-page” SEO needs to be in balance, it’s just part of what ranks a site.
The second way that Google determines which ten websites (out of millions of sites) should show up on the first page of the organic results for any given keywords is through links from other sites. And not just any links, but high quality, relevant links that contain relevant “anchor text”. Anchor text is the highlighted word or words that you would click on that would take you to another site. These words can be keywords, the name of a business or simply the URL of a website.
The real key to any successful SEO campaign is the ability to get relevant, high-quality backlinks from other sites back to the site you would like to rank. This is called link building. In simple terms, Google considers these links a “vote” for a site and factors them in very heavily into their algorithm. There are hundreds, if not thousands of location to get high-quality links back to a website. By building links with the correct anchor text, from high-quality sites in the way that Google likes to see them, website trust and power increases and your site will climb. Low-quality links or links that contain too much anchor text will drop in the rankings.
Wrap it Up
The SEO process is:
1.Making sure that the “on-page” optimization is in balance with what Google is looking for. This changes over time, but slowly, so gradual small changes are needed.
2.Increasing the strength and power of a site through the link building process. When the links are high-quality, relevant and contain the proper percentage of anchor text, the website will rise in the rankings.
By repeating this process over a span of months or even years, we’re able to position websites on the first page of Google to show up when someone types in a related search. If you would like to learn more about how Solar Flare Marketing can help your business find new customers online, please let us know.