Since the dawn of the Internet, search engines have been the only way to efficiently search for the information you require. Almost no users remember the URL of all but their favourite websites, and most will remember key search terms (which are much more intuitive to discover and remember), and attempt to use these through search engines in order to quickly locate their most commonly used resources. Around 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, so allowing your page to appear high in the rankings is obviously key to directing high volumes of traffic towards your pages. There are several ways to increase your search engine rankings: some choose to pay large sums of money to become part of a seemingly elite group of sites known as the ‘sponsored links’, while other sites will opt to increase their ‘organic’ page rankings by ensuring that content is streamlined to allow appropriate search engine recognition. Studies show that around 70-80% of users ignore these sponsored links entirely, opting instead for what are known as the ‘organic results’, and rendering the vast majority of money spent on sponsored links worthless. The job of search engine optimisation (SEO) is to increase your page ranking via organic methods, and thus increase traffic through your site. The practical applications and benefits of SEO are discussed under the headings below.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) involves designing website content in order that search engines can better recognise the purpose of said site, and so give customers more relevant results in response to particular searches. There are several components to the process of SEO. First, because search engines use automated software to read the content of, and to index web sites, any new site must be designed so as to guard against any coded barriers to search engine indexing. This can only be done with experience, as well as a thorough knowledge of how a search engine functions, and so is a task best suited to an appropriately qualified webmaster. The second, and most frequently focussed upon option for SEO is the direct optimisation of website content itself in order to improve relevance to specific keyword searches. The third option is to increase the number of inbound links to your site, as most search engines rank pages with a higher number of inbound links much more highly than relatively isolated and inaccessible sites. In the past, these options was used illegitimately by those wishing to increase traffic to sites with no discernibly useful information, simply in order to make money. Genuine SEO is an important part of any company’s online presence, however, and must not be overlooked when designing your site. This process is often more of an art than a science, and so the benefit of an experienced SEO company may well be just what you need to rocket your site into the list of top search results in no time.
Why Use a Dedicated SEO Provider?
Some will suggest that the only time when a dedicated SEO company is useful is during the development of your site. This is a somewhat misleading statement, however, since while it is the case that you will see the biggest jump in search engine rankings during the website construction stage, staying within the top results after you have climbed your way to the top is itself a tricky business. A one-time SEO solution may well increase website traffic for a while, but with hundreds of thousands of new sites being created daily, how can you ensure that yours continues to be ranked highly? The answer to this question is simple – paying a retainer to an SEO provider will reward you with a package of consultations designed to keep your site from slipping down the rankings. This is obviously worth the expense for companies wishing to build an online presence and maintain a high volume of traffic through their site, so it’s definitely worth considering recruiting a well-respected SEO company, and paying a little extra to keep them on your case.
What Factors Affect SEO Today?
Historical abuse of SEO techniques by a small number of rogue sites has resulted in the continuous adjustment of search engine algorithms in order to filter out these fraudulent results. This ongoing crackdown on illegitimate SEO techniques will sometimes affect those who use SEO for its legitimate purpose, and so it’s important to keep on top of the latest shifts in the field. The golden rule of SEO is that the optimisation must affect content that your visitors are going to see; content is created, not for search engines, but for the users, thus making invisible text and inaccessible pages a huge taboo for indexers.
How Do Search Engines Currently Deal With Mobile Devices?
It is an interesting feature of search engines that different results may be given when identical search terms are entered at the same time on both a mobile device and a home computer. The reason for this quirk becomes obvious when we consider that mobile devices and full-sized computers have very different needs when it comes to the web pages they are capable of displaying. Google’s search algorithms have, in fact, been designed to give priority to those pages which support ‘responsive’ web design, i.e. those sites which are designed to be compatible universally across devices. This compatibility is often relatively easily built into your site after the fact, and is most commonly implemented by using the same HTML code for all devices, but making use of the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) system to allow the pages to be displayed appropriately on the target screen, ensuring of course to make all this information available to the search engine indexer. While this may seem an unnecessary step to some, around 20% of Google searches are now thought to originate from mobile devices, and with this number only set to increase, configuring your website appropriately could just give you the edge over your competitors, pushing you ahead of them in the listings on those all-important mobile device results pages.
How is The Process of SEO Changing?
Over the last few years, the major search engines have become keenly aware of the need to put sites with a pleasant user experience near the top of their results lists, and to relegate keyword-rich, but otherwise badly designed sites to the seldom viewed realm of the later pages. The headings below describe some areas in which these next-generation search engines are striving to provide this enhanced user experience.
Since September 2013, Google has removed the ability for website hosts to gain information on which search terms led to hits on their page. This is part of a move to prevent ‘keyword stuffing’, a process used by illegitimate optimisers to artificially inflate the number of times a certain keyword appears on their site. The information previously available was indeed useful for genuine SEO clients as well, but is not essential to the process.
Page load speeds
Since 2010, as part of the move to rank more ‘usable’ sites towards the top of the hits list, Google has included a page loading speed component to its indexing algorithm, meaning that sites which load faster, and therefore provide a better user experience, rank much more highly on the page listings than those which have a little more lag.
SSL Certificates – https
As part of a move to make the Internet in general more secure, Google have openly revealed that they will incentivise sites to make the switch to https by giving those who do a more favourable position within the search rankings. This move comes at a cost, however, and unless your site has been designed with the secure protocols in mind, migrating a site to the new system can quickly become a minefield without an experienced webmaster at hand.
As outlined above, most major search engines have become wise to the fact that a minority are abusing genuine techniques for search engine optimisation, and have begun to adjust their protocols accordingly. These adjustments, while they may seem harsh, actually act to the advantage of genuine companies who use SEO, not to fabricate views, but to enhance traffic through their site. This new-found drive to include only organic and user-friendly pages among the top search results should not scare legitimate website owners, but will in fact help you get to your company’s site towards the top of the rankings in your particular market area. The article above is designed to give an insight into the various options for SEO, but even with this in mind, there really is no substitute for investing in the services of an experienced and well-respected SEO company. The information provided here is, therefore, a platform from which you will be well informed to make a decision about the most appropriate SEO company to suit your company’s needs.