Think of SEO as an ocean. It’s big, it’s growing, and the tides are constantly changing. Because search engines are always improving their algorithms, it is important to monitor and track these changes closely to stay on top of the competition.
These changes create multiple factors in the realm of SEO that can cause confusion between what is considered good or bad for SEO practices. Therefore, it is understandable why when SEO is muttered, people that are knowledgeable ask, “What type of SEO?”
Although keeping track of search engines’ moving targets is important, having a strong SEO foundation is crucial to the success of a website. In this series, Click Giant will be the compass guiding your boat through the foundational aspects of SEO and showing you how search engines view these aspects in depth. The first part of this series will explain the basics of search engines and the importance of website visibility.
Search & Visibility – What’s Important
Before getting into these fundamental aspects of SEO, we should find out what search engines are, how they function and how SEO fits.
Search engines provide users real-time information on the web with the ultimate goal to provide users with the most relative information matching their search query. Examples of search engines include Google, Bing, Ask.com, Baidu, among others. Search engines conduct four primary functions related to online content:
- Discovery – Crawling the web, following links
- Storage – Downloading copies of web assets
- Analyze – Assigning value and relevance to stored content
- Retrieve – Returning web documents when queried
Each search engine uses a different formula/algorithm to analyze their stored content, giving users unique search results. In the US, the most popular search engine, Google, has the largest market share of users using their search engine at 64.9%; whereas the second most popular engine, Microsoft’s Bing, comes in a distant second at 20.1% of the market share and growing (as of March 2015). No matter where users are searching, getting indexed in search engines is affected by how visible and accessible a website is to crawlers (Googlebot, Bingbot, etc).
Can Search Engines Discover My Site?
From a technical SEO perspective, we want to help search engines discover content by making a site as accessible as possible. In return, we create an environment where all users can easily navigate, interact, and understand the web. This results in an increase in time that visitors are on your site engaging with your content and identifying with your brand. A site’s accessibility can be determined through its:
- Architecture – when crafting a URL structure and hierarchy, keeping usability and information architecture (IA) in mind will help users navigate the site quickly and easily. Pages should be quality rather than quantity, and provide users with valuable information rather than thin content.
- Linking – when linking, the hypertext should be relevant and describe the page being linked. Context easily provides search engines and users with information about the link avoiding communication issues. Links should only be used if it is valuable to the user.
- Content Organization – organizing the information to be more user friendly will improve page flow, navigation and site accessibility. Important content should be easily accessible throughout the site. Make sure that the hierarchy of content goes from broader to more narrow as you categorize and organize your information.
- Code/Content Ratio – a higher text to content ratio is preferred for indicating best SEO practices since there are multiple factors considered, such as readability, user experience, page speed, and indexing, to name a few.
- Semantic Markup – this is a great way to provide crawlers and users with a properly structured HTML code that serve content and information that is easy to access, interact with, and understand.
When dealing with search engines and your site’s visibility, making sure your site is accessible will directly affect your audience reach, as well as sales and revenue, but being visible is just not enough.
Ensuring website accessibility is the first step when it comes to SEO. As we all know, ranking well in search engines improves your chances of receiving more visits to your site. In this series, we will be delving deeper into the oceans uncharted waters as we provide guided insight and a better understanding of the ever-changing tides and their importance in SEO.