The internet is crowded; it can take a lot of effort to get noticed. One of the easiest ways to gain new traffic is to rank highly on search engine return pages (SERPs). To appear at a higher spot on the SERP, your site needs to meet certain criteria as set by the search engines.
While each search engine has a different proprietary processes, certain factors are known to be in play. Making use of those factors to improve your SERP ranking is known as search engine optimization (SEO). If you are new to the landscape, and have not spent time on SEO for your site, here are some tips to get your started.
Content is King
You won’t be able to help your site rise through the ranks if your content isn’t up to par, at least not permanently. It is important that you develop your information in a way that is useful to your target audience, and that your site can be considered an authority in its own right. Keep your content factually correct, and pay attention to spelling and grammar. This is an area where quality truly matters, so efforts here are rarely ever considered a waste.
When a search engine is determining what your site is all about, it is read by a computer program called a spider or crawler, and not a person. These programs are designed to analyze the text on your page and use the information to categorize your site. To help make sure your site is categorized properly, you need to make sure you use the right words and that they are used in the right quantity.
It is also important to understand that a spider can’t understand the content in media files such as photos and videos. This means that you will have to convey the nature of the content through other means. This can include the description associated with the file, as well as designating a title and alternate title for the piece. Since this information is displayed in the site’s coding, even if it cannot be seen by visitors, the spider can better assess what the content is about.
White Hat / Black Hat
A variety of internet-based activities are considered white hat or black hat. All those designations mean is whether the chosen activity is regarded acceptable or unethical. White hat SEO techniques represent the known industry standards that are generally well received.
Often, it requires that no damage be done to a competitor’s site directly, and all basic rules and laws governing the activity should be followed, including those set forth by the search engine. Additionally, creating content that is aimed at finding an actual human audience is at its core, and not simply creating a site to become well ranked.
In contrast, black hat SEO techniques may be questionable in nature, if not entirely illegal. It includes using keyword stuffing or invisible text to achieve a different SERP rank. It can also involve the use of “keywords” that have nothing to do with the sites content, or changing the nature of the content once a page has achieved a high enough ranking.
When making a long-term investment into a particular site, white hat techniques are recommended. They allow the site to stand the test of time, with occasional small adjustments to maintain relevancy, instead of frequent changes to continue to trick the spiders into inaccurately ranking your site higher than it should be.
Finding More Information
There is a lot of solid information on SEO and various best practices. Some may choose to find a book on the subject, such as SEO for Growth, while others may prefer to hire a professional who specializes in web content and SEO to assist in aligning their site to the desired format.
Either way, taking the time to learn the fundamentals can help you create content better suited to SEO techniques, which can limit the amount of work that has to be done after the fact. Consider learning more about the subject and you can improve your SERP rankings faster than you realize.
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