All these factors, plus many more, are taken into consideration when search engines such as Google calculate search results, demonstrating the importance of effective search engine optimization.
SEO in Relation to Search Engines
The overwhelming success of Google in comparison to its competitors can be attributed to the fact that the Google search engine currently provides the most accurate, relevant and valuable search results on the Internet. This is a direct result of its algorithm, which currently features over 200 factors. Many of these factors are dedicated to determining the quality and relevance of a website in relation to the search query. The more of these factors a website satisfies, the higher it will be placed within Google’s search results.
On-Page Optimisation and Off-Page Optimisation
In order to meet the demands of modern search engine algorithms, an SEO campaign needs to implement both on-page and off-page optimisation techniques. On-page optimisation takes into account all factors of your internet presence of which you have complete control such as text content, video content and the development of an appropriate structure. On-page optimisation can directly influence in an increase of a website’s search engine ranking, of the number of relevant keywords stored in the Google index and how easily a website can be navigated “Googlebots”. In addition to the benefits associated with on-page optimisation in regards to search engine performance, the visitors of your website will also profit from a simpler navigation, more relevant content and user-friendly design and structure.
Off-page optimisation techniques refer to SEO methods that take place away from the website and usually consist of organic link building campaigns. A link building campaign can also influence a website’s search engine ranking as well as its page rank by placing inbound, high-quality links on thematically relevant websites.
Increasing your Online Visibility
In practical terms, a key aspect of SEO is the increase of your website’s visibility on Google and other search engines. The better your website’s optimisation, the better its search engine ranking; the better its search ranking, the more visible it is to your target audience. To help a website prosper in the online world, effective search engine optimisation is the most valuable tool at any webmaster’s disposal.
SEO: Common Mistakes
The semantic optimization of a website relies on many processes, each of which is designed to appeal to users and search engines alike. However, knowing how to implement these processes and functions is just as important as knowing exactly what to implement as many websites suffer due to easily avoidable SEO mistakes.
The misuse of keywords is the most common mistake made by web developers. Keywords and their synonyms need to be sprinkled naturally throughout a webpage’s content. The keywords need to be relevant to your website, the specific article in which it is featured and the needs of your users. Not only this, but it and its synonyms have to be implemented in a natural way.
Also, the importance of finding the right keyword is paramount. For this, you must think like your target audience and see what keywords are used more than others. Many websites suffer as they misuse their keywords or, even worse, feature keywords inappropriate to the content its target audience.
Misuse of HTML Tags
HTML tags are an important and often overlooked component of an effective SEO campaign. Ensuring your title tags are correctly placed helps search engines and users navigate your pages and also act as the main tags that appear in search engine results. HTML tags should include keywords that help users and search engine establish what content is featured on the page.
Misuse of Meta Tags
Although they play an important factor in SEO, many web developers rely too heavily on meta tags at the expense of other important areas. Meta tags help search engines establish the content of a website, though this information isn’t as important as the content itself, which is often overlooked. A successful SEO campaign finds the right balance between on-page content and meta data.
Over Reliance of Images
Images, graphic elements and videos are hugely important for users and search engines alike, however, there is a tendency for web developers to rely too heavily on these elements. Remember that search engines can’t analyse these elements as effectively as text content, meaning that text content should always be given priority. This, however, is not say that images, videos and graphics should be overlooked as they help improve the user experience and are looked upon favourably by search engines even if they cannot be fully analysed.
A URL needs to be concise, clear and dynamic. In order to achieve this, the URL should consist of a title which contains a keyword relevant to the page’s content. Over complicated URLs are difficult for users to remember and are poorly rated by search engines.
In order for an SEO campaign to be successful, it is important to secure strong backlinks. A strong backlink refers to a high ranked page and offers the user relevant information. In principal, the more backlinks a website has the better; however, this only applies if the backlinks are strong. For example, 5 strong backlinks is better than 10 bad backlinks, which is why it is important not to simply backlink spam.
PageRank is a ranking system used by Google to rank websites in their search engine results. When first developed, the PageRank algorithm revolutionised how search engines generated their results by introducing the concept of a website’s “authority”. Since Google’s introduction of PageRank, almost all other search engines have adopted the same or at least similar algorithm to calculate their own search results.
According to the original PageRank algorithm, a website’s authority was calculated using a number of different variables whereby popular and trusted domains were identified and their link patterns examined. As these identified sites were considered to be real authorities, Google determined that if these websites featured links to another website (website B), then website B would receive a piece of the original site’s authority. Consequently, if website B were to link to another site (website C), then website C would also receive a piece of the original website’s authority, albeit a much smaller piece. Using this system, Google could then calculate how much authority a website had and assign it a PageRank ranking of 0 to 10. This underlines the importance of developing an effective linking campaign when building your website.
How Important is PageRank?
In the early days of search engine optimisation, PageRank was the most important consideration for webmasters looking for success online. However, as new algorithms are developed and technologies advanced, the importance of PageRank has significantly declined over the years. Nonetheless, as many SEO specialists, link buyers, webmasters, online marketers, and ecommerce sites still use a PageRank scores to establish the quality of a website, PageRank results still have a role to play in the online world.
How to Improve Your PageRank
The only way to improve a website’s PageRank is to attract links from website that are already highly ranked. However, webmasters must keep in mind that one link from a highly ranked website carries more authority than many links obtained from low ranked websites. For example, a single link from a website with a PageRank of 6 can immediately boost your site to a PageRank 5 if the linking website is trusted by Google doesn’t feature a large number of links to other websites.
Content is King
When it comes to search engine optimisation, content really is king. The content of a website consists of many elements including texts, pictures, graphics, videos, forms or even games. Websites that offer the most useful and relevant content are more likely to enjoy high search engine ranking than those that do not. Indeed, in most cases, search engine optimisation campaigns focus primarily on the website’s content, with emphasis.
Why Is Text Content so Important?
Google analyses large sections of the internet using so-called “Googlebot” and saves the results in its databases. These Googlebots are only capable of “reading” text content and cannot recognise the content of videos or photos. Consequently, the text content of a website is Google’s only measure of the themes, keywords and content of a website.
A large factor behind Google’s success is that it provides its users with search results that match their needs as best as possible. To achieve this, the search engine analyses as much target-oriented information about a website as possible. Whether a website matches a search request is determined by largely by its content and the meta-tags of a web document.
The formula Google uses is quite simple: The more content a website contains, the higher the number of search terms. The more search terms (keywords / key word phrases) available, the more frequently the website appears in the Google index, which in turn improves visibility and attracts more visitors.
SEO Text Content
The basic requirement of all text content is that it is unique. If there are identical texts on several websites, Google only analyses the website which is most relevant to the search request. Additionally, Google attempts to focus on the original source of the content and disregards the websites featuring the duplicated content. If a website contains a lot of identical texts it may even be punished by Google and drop lower in the rankings. Similarly, if different URLs of the same website feature the same text content it is also regarded to be “duplicate content” and should therefore be deleted.
Other factors that Google uses to determine the relevance of text content in relation to possible search requests are the specific words and the interrelation between them (semantic fields), the keyword density (word frequency) and the use of keywords used within different text elements (headers, picture captions, video titles etc.)
SEO: Semantic Optimization
The semantic optimization of a website is not only about inserting appropriate keywords and keyword phrases within a text a certain amount of times, but also inserting words which are related to the main keyword.
The Importance of Semantic Optimization
In the early days of search engine optimization, it was sufficient to just use one central keyword a certain number of times within a text to satisfy the demands of search engines. Although a certain density of keywords is still an important element of modern search optimization, it is no longer the sole decisive factor for success. For example, if your website is about sports cars, it is no longer sufficient to fill the text content with the word “Ferrari”. This is because Google now uses a technique called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), which requires websites to use a semantic tag cloud to provide visitors with more varied and relevant information. Still using “Ferrari” as an example, related terms may include “race car”, “Michael Schumacher”, “Italian car”, “Formula One”, “Enzo”, “Modena”, “red”, “Bella Macchina” etc.
The ideal density for the primary keyword and its synonyms within each individual URL is 6%. So, for a text of 600 words, his would equate to ten times. Furthermore, secondary keywords which are semantically related (sub-keywords) can be used throughout the text with a much lower frequency. This will provide each piece of text content to appear on a website with greater depth and information.
Another option, which is more complex but still widely used, is creating an website dedicated to the principle of a tag cloud. This entails, for instance, optimizing the homepage with the primary keyword and some URLs with a choice of secondary, related keywords. This method requires a specialised method of internal linking in order to be a success in regards to SEO. This linking method requires each subpage to contain the primary keyword at least once in the so-called “anchor text”, which will link back to the homepage. Additionally, these subpages should be cross-linked with the respective secondary keywords also serving as anchor text. This strategy enhances the inner structure of the website, which can then be smoothly indexed (“crawled”) by search engines.
SEO: Internal Linking
Internal linking describes how the sub-pages of a website are linked together. The better the sub-pages are linked with the home page and to each other, the better Google can understand each individual page and your website as a whole. As with every on-page optimisation measure, page visitors also benefit when a domain’s internal linking has been effectively optimised as they are able to find information quicker and easier, increasing the potential for conversion.
Optimised Internal Linking Increases Conversion Rates
Regarding page visitors, the following rule applies: The longer users stay on a page, the higher the conversion rate. By having optimised internal linking, a domain can increase the likelihood that a user reads through more sub-pages, thereby increasing the time spent on the domain. The more information that is presented to a user, and the easier it is to find this information, dramatically increases the likelihood of conversion. In addition to better navigation and usability (ease of use), the Google PageRank is better distributed from the home page to sub-pages.
Recommended Internal Linking Strategies
It is highly recommended that businesses wishing to flourish in the online world optimise their internal linking strategies. This can be done a number of different ways, all of which revolve around linking from one page to another via relevant keywords. Link primarily from texts that feature on your landing pages to content-relevant sub-pages. For example, if your business sells used car parts, the keyword “tyres” could be used to link visitors to your sub-page featuring your “tyre” products. This is a very simple but effective form of SEO. However, be sure the number of internal links is not too high (maximum 10 links from each text) and always remember that the hyperlinked content should provide the page visitor with further information and not just link to an irrelevant page.
SEO: Graphic Features
Graphic features play an often underestimated role in a website’s content. Such content is actually an integral component, not just for Google; but for users. Images significantly improve a website’s appearance by breaking up content and providing a visual anchor for information. Studies demonstrate that websites with pictures and graphics attract user attention for longer – and as longer visits increase the likelihood of conversion, it is little wonder why graphical features are seen as such an important element of search engine optimization.
Graphical Features and Google
Graphical features are vital SEO tools that are often overlooked by webmasters. The problem, as they see it, is that Google can only recognise text, not pictures. Search engine do realise that there is a picture present on a webpage, but they are unable to establish the picture’s content. However, there are a number of easy steps you can take to counter this problem and help Google analyse your picture appropriately.
Tips for Implementing Graphical Features
In order to help search engines such as Google, you should provide your graphical feature with a file name that accurately describes the picture content. This title will appear when a user moves their cursor over the picture and provide a clear description of the content. A sensible title benefits users and search engines alike.
Programmers should also make use of the so-called “alt attribute” (a Meta attribute used when programming the website), which is the alternative text of the picture and also used describe the picture. However, the “alt attribute” requires more detail that the title and should also contain a keyword which is relevant to Google. For example:
<img src="Graphical Feature.jpg" alt="Graphical features are crucial for SEO">
The “alt attribute” text will still be visible to search engines and users even if the picture cannot load for technical reasons. Moreover, the alt attribute is automatically read aloud to visually impaired people, which also benefits businesses looking to keep the attention of their visitors.
SEO: Canonical Tags
Canonical tags are an HTML element used to help prevent the problem of duplicate content by specifying “preferred” versions of a web-page. This is a useful tool in effective search engine optimization, especially for larger portals and shops that often have problems with duplicate content or similar content (near DC). Duplicate content occurs when, under different URLs, the same or almost the same content is provided. This is a particular problem for online shops that use filters for sorting products. An widely accepted solution to these technical challenges is the so-called canonical tag, or canonical attribute as it is also known.
How Canonical Tags Work
If multiple URLs deliver the same or very similar content, the preferred URL is specified in the header by canonical attribute as seen below:
One of the major benefits of the canonical attribute is that the links and their effects, as well as the PageRank which refer to the non-preferred URLs, are passed to the preferred URL. It is therefore strongly advised for websites, especially those featuring product filters, implement canonical tags.
Canonical tags for International Domains
Many modern businesses offer their online content, their products and their services in a variety of different languages. A majority of these enterprises publish their content on their own, country specific toplevel domains, for example: yourbusiness.co.uk for the United Kingdom or yourbusiness.de for Germany. In principle, these domains are extremely advantageous.
However, it is much simpler for the user to be directed to the right version immediately via a language switch in order to lead those who simply type “yourbusiness.com” in the browser directly to the right domain.
In order to do this, the rel=”alternate” hreflang= “x” tag is used to tell Google that a website has several versions in other languages. To this end, international businesses are advised to add each of their language versions in the tag on each page. The country as well as the language can be indicated in the hreflang. By doing this, businesses can also allocate countries with several languages correctly. The rel=”alternate” hreflang= “x” tag should be used as follows: This will link German speaking users living in Germany to the German version of the website.