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What is Search Engine Optimization?
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Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, comprises of two elements on page and off page optimization. This article covers each element in turn.
The primary goal of search engine optimization is to get your website - or a page within your website - to be in the number one spot on the search engine result pages (SERPs) when a specific word or phrase is typed into the search box. Broadly speaking, the higher your page or site ranks on the SERPs, the more visitors you stand to receive.
The first step to successful SEO begins before you even build your website. It is entirely possible to deliberately get ranked for search terms with no human traffic, but what would be the point? You must first choose a topic which is popular enough to be searched for by an appropriate number of people daily, weekly, or monthly. Once you have chosen a sufficiently popular topic, you must then build the site and optimize it well.
The best way to optimize your website when building it is to keep it on topic. If you have 100 pages all unrelated to each other topic-wise, it will be extremely difficult to rank any of them well. If instead you create 100 pages which are all tightly related to each other, you increase the chances of the site itself - and all the pages on that site - ranking very well for the topic and keywords you are targeting.
On Page Search Engine Optimization
On page optimization is the process of making changes to each page of your website to ensure they rank well for the topic specific keywords or phrases you have chosen. By optimizing each page of your website, you increase the chances of one or more pages of your site ranking highly in the search engine result pages when someone is searching for your keyword or phrase.
The words you use on each page of your site, and the pages linked to and from each page, play an important role in modern search engine optimization success. Selecting specific keywords and phrases which are searched for often can help bring more traffic to your site. However, the more popular those words and phrases are, the more likely you are to find stiffer competition for them. In other words, thousands - or in the most competitive markets millions - of other websites may be trying to optimize for those words and phrases too.
You also have to tread carefully when using the keywords and phrases you have decided to target. All text on each individual page of your site will be read and analyzed by the search engines once they have been spidered. The text on your page is part of what helps the determination of where to rank the page in the search engine results.
Where on the page you use your keywords or phrases is also important, you need to pay attention to relevancy in titles and the page's meta fields, not just in the body text and navigational elements of the page.
If you overdo the use of a given word or phrase, it can trigger a warning flag within the search engines' automated systems. This warning flag essentially says the page or site may be "search engine spam" which is not something you ever want attached to your content. When this happens your site can be significantly pushed down the rankings, or it can be removed from the search engine database entirely.
Off Page Search Engine Optimization
Creating on topic content with the appropriate keywords and phrases is just one piece of the SEO puzzle. In addition to that, you will also need to get anchor text links to individual pages and sections of your website. These links, can be internal or external, the external links are also known as backlinks.
Internal links are when one page on your site links to another page on the same site. External links are hyperlinks which exist on a page on another domain, but point at one of your pages. Both links are more powerful for SEO purposes if they feature relevant keyword anchor text.
An anchor text link will connect a given word or phrase to your site. Instead of having a clickable hyperlink to www.somesite.com you may have the words "my keyword phrase" clickable through to your site. For example, in ground swimming pools rather than swimmingpoolszone.com.
When you have a given keyword or phrase linking to your site, the search engines take that into account when displaying SERPs to their users. The more anchored links you can get from different sites around the Web, the higher your site is likely to rank in the search engine results.
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