Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most efficient ways of getting your site ranked by search engines. To increase visibility for your pages and to garner attention from potential site visitors, you have to know how SEO works and how you can tailor your content for potential site visitors and search engines. This process is called content optimization.
How do search engine work
Search engines are responsible for crawling sites, indexing the crawled URLs and ranking the content based on queries provided by search engine users.
To achieve this, complex crawling programs are used to detect new content being published, recrawling websites to look for new content and organizing already crawled web pages into usable search results. Next, algorithms are used to analyzed pages in the index. These complex algorithms take into account different factors such as the quality of content, to determine the order of pages for a given query.
Search engines are optimized to provide users with an efficient search experience. This means that they strive to ensure that users are only shown content that they are looking for by ensuring that the top-ranked pages are relevant and are from authoritative domains.
Search engine ranking
Search engine ranking is the ordering of search results by relevancy. The general consensus among SEO experts is that the higher a site is ranked on a search query, the more relevant it is.
For content creators doing search engine optimization, understanding the different metrics used by search engines to rank your site can help in creating content that is optimized for SEO.
Search engines also allow content creators and website owners to block crawlers from the content they don’t want to be ranked. Therefore, content creators looking to have their content ranked have to make sure that the content is accessible to crawlers and can be indexed.
Most SEO experts agree that content creators should write for humans first and search engines second as a long-term strategy. However, many content creators do not always follow the rules, and depending on their goals, they may opt to create content for search engines first, and others try optimizing their content to have the best of both worlds.
This creates three categories of SEO optimization strategies, Black hats, white hats and grey hats.
Black hats optimization involves creating content that is tailored specifically for search engines. This type of SEO optimization is not concerned about user experience or the relevancy of their content to users. Their content is specifically optimized to cheat search engines and give them an advantage against their competitors.
White hat strategy focus on creating the best experience for their users. They write content for humans first, and many search engines aim to promote their content. However, in most cases, their content buried by content using black hat and gray hat strategies and users fail to see their content.
The gray hat strategy aims to take the best of both black hats and white hats. They sometimes use strategies that are tailored for search engines for them to rank higher. However, they also create quality content that is user-friendly and relevant, ensuring that users who come across their content are satisfied with their content.
As a content creators, you should know that search engines are always on the look for black hat strategies and some gray hat optimization strategies. Websites caught optimizing their content for search engines first without consideration for user experience get de-ranked or their index is negatively affected. For a long-term working strategy, ensure that your content is relevant and provides value for your visitors.
Best practices for SEO optimization
Use a sitemap
A sitemap is a file on your site that tells search engines about new or changed pages. The best way to notify a search engine that you have changed your content is by using a sitemap. In fact, Google encourages content creators to submit a sitemap for their websites to have an edge and get ranked fast.
Notify search engines on pages you don’t want to be crawled
Using a robot.txt file, it is important to notify search engines about the pages on your website that you would not like to be crawled by their bots or ranked. This is made to ensure the safety and privacy of your content. As a content creator, some pages are not meant for everyone, and therefore, such pages should be blocked from search engines to ensure that users have a good experience and search engines do not use such content while ranking as it may affect your page rankings on search engines.
Allow search engines to see your content as users do
Accurately describe the page’s content
Always ensure that the titles, headings and metadata are describing what is in your article or content on your site. As content creators, always avoid using titles that have no relation to the content of the page or using vague titles such as untitled or new page 1.
Every page should also have a unique title which should be brief and descriptive of the content on that page.
Organize your site hierarchy
Search engines use titles to rank your website and therefore you should make sure your title clearly outlines the hierarchy of the content. Make sure your URLs are readable and have multiple distinct sections, for example:
Which, in an actual URL translate to something like:
Search engines also recommend you use HTTPS protocol for your site’s URL to have a higher ranking.
Show useful 404 page not found pages
It is important to create useful 404 pages that help site visitors get the content they were looking for. It is also important to have redirects on the pages to ensure that visitors are offered alternatives to what they are looking for. Search engines also stumble on your 404 pages and if they don’t find valuable content, your site ranking is affected.
Use keywords sparingly
Search engines are now aware that some content creators stuff keywords in order to rank high. On such sites, many search engines look at whether the content is useful to users. In case your content is not optimized for maximum user experience, your site ranking may be affected.