How many SEO consultants does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to change the light bulb and another to explain that there are over 200 factors that go into determining the state of the light bulb and it could take 3 to 6 months to know for sure that the light bulb has indeed changed.
What exactly is search engine optimization? It’s simply the process of getting your website listed as high in the search engine results as possible.
The benefits of appearing high in the results pages are fairly obvious – more people will find your website, which increases the amount of traffic you get, which in turn should increase your sales.
The process is fairly simple, but because the search engines are reluctant to share the exact methods they use to rank web pages, no-one is really sure exactly what works and what doesn’t.
There are some ground rules which we can be fairly sure about.
Firstly, there are some boring technical issues which need to be correct for Google to rank a web page.
- Page load speed
- Mobile friendliness
- Presence of schema markup
- Absence of broken links
Then, there are some basic on-page factors to consider:
- Title – should be less than 70 characters
- Meta description – up to 320 words
- Header tags
- Image alt tags
And some content issues Google looks at:
- HTML sitemap
- XML sitemap
- Social media links
- Video embedded on the page
- Indexed poor quality pages
Finally, off-page issues:
- High quality backlinks from relevant authority websites
- Social signals – indications that pages on the site are being liked and shared on social media platforms
Once those factors are in place, the search engines are looking for quality content which is relevant to the search term their user types in.
All the search engines use the text on a page to work out what that page is about. If you want your web page to appear for a certain search term, that search term (or ‘keyword phrase’) had better appear somewhere on the page. If the keyword phrase is really important, then it should appear in the page title and in the headline on the page.
At the same time, the search engines are clever enough to spot deliberate attempts to manipulate them. Repeating a keyword phrase too often can result in the page dropping in the rankings.
‘Latent Semantic Indexing’ is one of those catchy buzz-phrases beloved by the SEO crowd. It simply means that once the search engines know what the primary keywords are for a page, they look out for similar, related keywords one would expect to find on a page about that topic. For example, although this post is about ‘search engine optimization’, I’m not repeating that phrase over and over – I’m using related terms like ‘search engine’, ‘SEO’ and so on.