This week, I’m trying something new. Each day, I’ll write about a topic that I’ve been studying. This week’s topic: search engine optimization (or SEO, for short). Check back each day for a new post, or why not just subscribe to the RSS feed?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” or un-paid search results. (Source: Wikipedia)
Four basic benefits of SEO
The following outlines the basic benefits of SEO: indexed pages, rankings, visitors and (ultimately) conversions. The goal of the entire SEO process is to get people to do something.
1) Indexed pages
Robots or crawlers from search engines move through all the content on the web and index it, which allows it to appear in a search. It is important to make sure that search engines can find your pages and decipher them – this is something that needs to be done by a web designer or developer. See the extra credit reading at the bottom for more information on constructing an optimized web page.
Someone searches for “lawn and garden center Chicago” on Google. There are 529,000 results. If a business is the third one listed on this search, they are “ranked” third. This is what many clients talk about specifically, when discussing SEO – “I want to show up on Google.” (A better request would be: “I want my site to appear on a Google when someone searches for _______” This specific information helps your developer optimize your site.) However, being ranked #1 on ___ search engine technically doesn’t mean anything. A high ranking doesn’t necessarily convert into increased sales – it is simply a way in to your site. (Ranking will be covered in more depth in tomorrow’s post.)
So, at this point, search engine robots have indexed your pages, and your site appeared when someone searched for something. Now, a real human clicks and views your site. We’re getting there! Unless you receive payment on a cost per impression basis (like via ads) this still doesn’t mean much.
This is the ultimate goal of SEO. Those real, live people visiting your site do something. A conversion can be anything you want – a purchase, a download, a comment, a phone call, an email, a follow on Twitter, a subscription to an RSS feed, etc. It’s important to know what you want your conversions to be so you can set your optimization goals accordingly.
These are the bare-bone basics of what SEO is: Create a well-structured web page with great content and keywords so that the search engines can index it. Your site ranks well for keywords that you’ve chosen. Real people visit your site. Those people do something based on the information they find on your site.
Extra credit reading:
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll talk more about what determines search ranking. Don’t miss it: subscribe to the RSS feed.