Optimization, SEO or Search Engine Optimization, is a top priority for nearly every company and website owner, and yet few really understand what is involved in optimizing a website. Today website optimization and digital marketing is much more than just having great content, link building, or PPC (pay per click). As search engine algorithms have evolved and with the entry of social media your optimization program must be comprehensive and utilize a holistic approach that employs all of the media available.
When you type a search term or keyword into Google or Bing the search engines go to work and out pops the most relevant webpages and blogs for that topic. The actual search results, called organic search results, are ranked by Google and Bing according to which are the best or most relevant webpages. In fact the Google algorithm has over 200 factors that are used to determine which page ranks where.
Google does not disclose the exact ranking factors and the actual Google algorithm is a secret as well kept as the recipe for Coca Cola. While the algorithm and ranking factors are secret, top SEO professionals have a good empirical understanding of the key variables and how to optimize your website to deliver results.
Content is exploding on the internet. Millions of websites are added every year which in itself is creating hundreds of millions of pages, in addition there are now hundreds of millions – that’s right hundreds of millions, of blogs, and social networks such as Facebook, Google+, and Twitter all generating content too. All of this is indexed by the search engines! Even tweets are now indexed and in many cases will turn up in Google or Bing searches. As you can see that is a lot of content in the Cloud today, and all of it is indexed!
Much of this content does not directly affect your website’s ranking as it is unrelated and a great deal of it is meaningless dribble. What does directly affect your website ranking is how the search engines are dealing with this tsunami of content. Google has been aggressively updating its search algorithms and ranking factors to further improve it’s search results and filter out spam and low quality sites by moving their ranking down. As the Google search algorithms are updated these changes directly affect your website and its search position.
The most infamous Google update was Panda which has had several subsequent Panda updates within months of its release. Panda changed the search results of nearly 15% of all websites! The Panda update directly targeted content farms, spammy websites, websites loaded with advertising, and black hat SEO tactics overall.
What dictates my site’s search position in the results?
The Google search ranking algorithm utilizes over 200 factors and variables to determine exactly where each webpage ranks for each specific search. As we said, the details are secret, but the general factors are well known in the SEO community.
Factors that determine search results:
- High quality content
- Content relevant to the search
- Content depth and volume: site with 100 pages of relevant content will rank higher than a site with 1 page.
- Follow current design best practices (one line here, but there is much to this)
- Links – the number of inbound links greatly influences your website ranking
- Likes and Google +1′s greatly influence website ranking
- Facebook Fan pages and links from Facebook have a positive affect
- Links from Twitter affect contribute to rankings
- Fresh – recently updated content affects search rankings too
- Authority – the “authority” of your website affects your overall search rankings
- There are many more, but these are the primary
No Second Chances in SEO, well at least not right away…
When you launch your website the Google and Bing spiders will crawl your website and index the pages. At that moment your search position is determined until the next time your website is crawled. We can set your website to temporarily be crawled more frequently, but once crawled, your search rank is set until the next crawl.
What we mean by no second chances is that once your website is launched and has been live for a while the search position is pretty well established. It is a long process to change your search position for an existing website or to get a new website ranking high. This seems counter intuitive since search results are instantaneous and one would think that the search engines would reindex more quickly. The fact is that they do not. It can take weeks, even months, for the full impact of an SEO campaign to be fully realized. Consequently it is very important to do it right the first time and continue to do it right as it can take months to rebuild rankings and undo mistakes.