Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the process of crafting a web page so that it will be highly visible to the various search engines on the Internet such as Google, Bing, etc. Through the use of carefully chosen keywords, related search terms, and back linking a web page can be optimized for high ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). With a little common sense and help from the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide a web page can be given a few minor alterations to help increase its visibility.
Keywords and Keyword Phrases
A keyword is a word or a phrase that someone would be expected to run a search query on through a search engine. The search engine then attempts to return to the searcher the web pages that are the most relevant and authoritative in regard to the keyword that was entered.
- Bicycle Parts
- Where to buy a mountain bike in Longview California
All of these are keywords or phrases that a user might type into a search engine. If a web page designer is creating a web page about bicycle parts, then he will need to spend some time thinking of the keywords that potential users will search on. By understanding how people are looking for web pages about bicycles parts then it becomes easier to make the web page he is designing more attractive to the search engines.
When a search engine scans a web page, it not only extracts the keywords on that page it also looks for terms that are related to the keyword that was entered. A related term is a word or phrase that is commonly associated with or used alongside of the keyword or phrase that was searched on.
For the keyword of Bicycling, some example related terms might be:
- Mountain Bike
- Replace a bicycle gear
This allows the search engine to distinguish between web pages that are about bicycling and web pages that just happen to mention bicycling. A search engine is only as good as the results it sends back to its users so it is in the best interest of these engines to work as hard as possible to make sure that someone searching for bicycle parts gets a page mainly about that subject.
The frequency of the searched keyword or phrase in conjunction with the use of related terms on the same page help determine a web page’s relevance to the subject. In the Google SEO Starters Guide, Google says to think about the words that a searcher looking for your content will use, whether they are new to the subject or a long term user. Experience users may use more acronyms while a new user might type out the entire phrase, such as “National League Champsionship Series” rather than “nlcs”.
In addition to carefully choosing keywords and related terms to place on a web page, designers must also consider how to obtain back links. A back link is a hyperlink to the new web page that comes from another web page somewhere else on the Internet. A web page that has a high number of back links from related pages is considered “authoritative”, a concept which is becoming more and more important in SEO as search engine technology evolves.
A back link is only as valuable as the page that it links from in relation to the page that it links to. If the designer creates a page on bicycle parts and then another user links to that page from a page about video games, then the search engines will not give much weight to that back link. However if the back link to the new page comes from another page that is also about bicycle parts then the link is given more weight.
The weight of a back link is often referred to as the “quality” of a back link. A back link that comes from a page that is related and has a high relevance and authority in and of itself is much more valuable than a back link from an unrelated blog that has only been around a few weeks. If a web page has a number of high quality back links then it is considered an authority site on the subject and will appear higher in the SERP than sites with low quality or fewer back links.
Obtains back links is such a key part of SEO that many unscrupulous practices have grown up around it. It’s called link building. The search engines are aware of these practices and actively filter out worthless back links and may penalize a site believed to be in engaged in “black hat” SEO. The SEO Starter Guide warns against spamming other sites comment boxes and purchasing artificial back links.
Putting it All Together
When designing a web page the designer has to consider how other people are going to find it. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, is the process of making the web page easier to find for people looking for information on that page.
By using keywords that users may be searching for and combining them with terms related to that keyword then the web page can be written to have a high relevance score. By obtaining back links to the page from other relevant, authority sites then the new web page can itself obtain a better authority. Combining these factors will help a page obtain a much higher SERP listing than a page designed without addressing these points.