How SEO works
There are more search engines than Google, and they sure know how SEO works.
This article serves as a follow up to our previous ‘what is SEO’ post. So, in this post, we’ll give you a brief overview of how SEO works.
How do search engines find you?
Let’s start from the beginning. To know how SEO works you need to understand how search engines like Google find your website. For search engines to know your site exists, there first has to be a link from another site – one Bing or Google already knows – to your site. That link will lead crawlers to you and the initial indexing will begin. To give search engines the heads up, you could submit your website for review. However, this doesn’t necessarily speed up the process as search engines nowadays follow all links on the web naturally.
Crawlers, spiders or bots
A crawler will follow links on the web. A crawler can also be referred to as a robot, a bot, or a spider. A crawler will search the web 24-7. Once search engines visit a website, it saves the HTML version of a page in a huge database, this is called the index. The index will update every time the crawler comes around your website and finds a new or revised version. Depending on how important search engines deem your site and the number of changes you make since the last check, the crawler will either come around more or less often.
The secret algorithm
After saving or ‘indexing’ your website, Google or Bing can start showing your website in the search results. There is a specific algorithm that decides which pages will show and who ranks higher. How it works is a secret. Nobody knows exactly which factors the algorithm entails. However, we do know that the factors and their importance change on a regular basis.
- Page speed– because speed impacts user experience, it has become an ‘official’ factor. Read about how to speed your website here.
- Secured sites (HTTPS vs. HTTP)– Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the procedure in which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means all passing of data between your browser and the website are encrypted.
- Websites that are mobile-friendly – As of February 2017, mobile devices accounted for 49.7% of web page views worldwide. Without a mobile-friendly website, you will rank low on search engines.
- Content quality – Like we mentioned previously, it is all about great quality content to engage visitors
- Web page content length – Short, sweet and straight to the point… but not too short! As long as you are providing high-quality content relevant to your audience that is all that matters.
- Social signals – Social signals refer to a websites collective shares, likes and overall social media visibility as perceived by search engines. These activities contribute to a page’s organic search ranking and are seen as another form of citation, similar to backlinks.
- Quality backlinks – Backlinksfrom other sites to yours that are also well optimised and trustworthy.
- Optimised images – By not optimising images on your site, you are missing a huge ‘trick’. All images should have alt-tags/titles present. These can be made up of meta descriptions and SEO titles.
- Domain authority – Domain authority is a measure of the power of a domain name. This takes into account ranking signals including trust and authority.
SEO is for life, not just for launch
While we speak like SEO is just a list of tick boxes. It doesn’t stop. There are ongoing activities required that encourage the bots to keep coming back and re-ranking your site. The aim is that your website is never completely crawled! This includes adding regular, relevant and unique content to your site by way of blogs, and building that backlink profile so that your DA continues to sore. The process also includes adding deeper layers of SEO through categories and making sure that the UX is always as good as it can be.
It is a 360-degree process, and with search engines adding and changing so frequently, rarely is the to-do list ever complete.
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