When you have a question, you need to find a recipe for cupcakes, or you want to know the best ice cream place near you, you tend to find yourself typing into a search bar. Perhaps you use Bing, or Yahoo, or, like a majority of people, you Google Search. Nonetheless, search engine results have a huge impact on a website’s visibility. Through keywords and algorithms, you can determine what pages and sections of your site will pop up through searches, allowing for increased site traffic and website accessibility. Let’s further explore SEO and its benefits for your site:
Defining SEO – What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic. Essentially, it allows for better visibility when people search for products relating to your website. You can gain more exposure for your site and reach a wider range of people–after all, search engines are the fastest way to find information. But what exactly is a search engine?
- Search engines work as “answer machines” that absorb millions of pieces of information and content and use that information to figure out the best answer to your question
- They do this by looking through internet content such as websites, PDFs, images, videos, etc.
The SEO Hierarchy of Needs
In order to reach visibility for your site, it’s important to work at the bottom to reach the top. Similar to the psychological concept that fundamental needs must be prioritized in order to reach more advanced needs, the Hierarchy of SEO Needs shares the same idea that less “advanced” needs should be addressed first. For your content to be reached and maximized, you must start with good crawl accessibility, which will allow you to stand out in SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages).
Now you may be wondering: how exactly do search engines work? Well, there are three main ways they function:
Let’s define each of these terms and explain their functions:
Crawling addresses the issue of whether search engines can find your page. The way it works is by sending a team of robots to find new and updated content, such as web pages, images, PDFs, and videos. It’s an important aspect needed for your website to show up in search results. For example, sites like Google and Bing will use crawling bots to collect information from various sites.
But How do I know if my Content is Showing up?
If you are unsure whether your pages are showing up, you can check using the following techniques:
- Use an advanced site operator to check your indexed pages – “site:yourdomain.com” is an example of one. This gives an approximate idea of which pages are indexed on your site and what’s actually showing up in the search results.
- Monitor & use Index Coverage Report in Google Search Console for more accurate results. You can use this to submit sitemaps for your website & keep track of how many submitted pages have been added to Google’s index.
- Meta Robots tag – this tag is part of the site’s HTML code and is found in the <head>. It can exclude specific search engines or all of them.
2. X-robots-tag – this tag is used in the http header of the URL. It can control the indexing of the page as a whole and is far more flexible and functional than the meta robots tag. If you want to block search engines, you can block non-HTML files, apply noindex tags to the entire site and use regular expressions.
Once the search engines have gone through indexing, it’s now time to determine where to display specific content on the SERP. This is where ranking comes in.
Ranking is the process of organizing search results from most relevant to least relevant for a particular question. There are several factors that go into determining ranking, such as content relevance to the search term, number of backlinks, URL structure and plenty more. Further examples can be found here. An important factor when considering ranking for your site is using keywords.