The known internet contains well over 4.75 billion web pages. That’s almost a page for every person on the planet. With competition this stiff, drawing traffic to your website relies on your search engine optimization or SEO. With all this competition, you have likely been told you will need to use search engine optimization (SEO) practices to get traffic to your company’s website. It’s true, page optimization is great for your business – but do you know why? Learning some helpful SEO practices how search engines” think” helps you understand why these practices may land your business’ website on that coveted top spot in the rankings.
How Search Engines Think
Larry Page, the co-founder and CEO of Google, once said “The perfect search engine would understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want”. This says a lot about the aim of search engines.
Search engines have one main purpose: to bring useful, up-to-date, relevant search results to their users as quickly as possible. To achieve this purpose, search engines have 3 main functions- crawling, indexing, and retrieving. Understanding how these functions work will help you understand how you can better cater to them.
Simply put, crawling is the act of scanning your website into a database. Automated bots called spiders rapidly read your page; getting a complete list of what it contains. Search engines crawl the title of the page, the page’s keywords, images, and important text. Then the pages it links to with hyperlinks are crawled, and the process is repeated. The spider then stores the new links into a database of sites to be crawled over again. The process is never ending, and designed to make sure a search engines database is as up-to-date as possible.
Now that all the data on your page is collected, what do they do with it? Here is where much of those SEO practices come into play. Data is indexed based on every significant factor available, such as keywords and links to and from your page. The index also marks aspects such as when the page was posted and if there are pictures or videos on the page.
Say you run a stuffed animal shop; Bill’s Teddy Bears. Keywords such as, “teddy bears” and “stuffed animals” likely become indexed by search engines. Similarly, search engines index any images found on your site as well. If your shop has 300 pictures of a red stuffed giraffe, it is a great option to show a user looking for images of a red stuffed giraffe. Links to and from your page are also factored in.
This is also where the importance of guest blogging comes in. If the national stuffed animal association links to your site, you gain relevance based on their reputation.
All of this helps the algorithms pick up relevant data for their users in the next section – retrieving.
Search engines use hundreds of variables to decide how to display their web results. Things like the quality of the content, the links the content contains, the title and URL of the page, and how fresh the page is; all factors into giving users the most relevant results. Search engines also look for synonyms to your keywords, always attempting to figure out what you mean and delivering it to you. They do this billions of times each day.
This is why it is good to build each page around a keyword or phrase.
Keywords and Phrases
In our example, let’s say a user searches “fix a stuffed animal”; they will likely not see results for companies which only sell new stuffed animals. They would see articles on how to fix them and who to call if they need help fixing them. If you want to rank your page, you will want to include the keywords in all aspects of the page. The title will say something like “How to Fix a Stuffed Animal”. The URL would be BillsTeddyBears.com/fix-a-stuffed-animal. The headline of the article would be “The Easiest Way to Fix your Stuffed Animal”. The page itself will contain useful information about fixing stuffed animals. It will also have synonyms of the keyword; it may say “repair your teddy bear” or “mend a plush toy”. These are the very basic factors search engines look for when deciding how valuable your page is to their users.
Knowing some basic SEO practices can give you the upper hand in understanding how to cater to them. It’s important, however, that you don’t cater to search engines at the expense of your readership. At the very least, it can help to see why SEO practices are absolutely necessary for your business to succeed online.
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