Introduction to SEO
What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
Search engine optimization is a crucial part of creating a successful presence on the internet.
But what is SEO? It's a bit of science and marketing mingled together! It's the practice of improving where your site appears when people perform searches, and uses techniques that are both "on page (within the pages of the site) and off page (outside the pages of the site) in order to increase the traffic a site receives from the search engines. An example of an on page technique would be adding keywords to your pages, and an example of an off page technique would be exchanging links with another website. We will discuss these techniques in more depth later.
It's very important to note with search engine optimization that pleasing your site visitor and providing a good user experience will often also lead to good results with the search engine. It is the search engine's goal to provide the best results to Internet users - make this your goal as well!
We are passionate about helping you make an impact with your website, and that includes giving you a hand with SEO. Here are some of the benefits that we provide to all our users:
- Search engine compatible XML site maps. XML sitemaps make it easier for search engine crawlers to see the depth of your website and keep track of things changing like new pages being added and deleted. By publishing your sitemap by default, we let search engines easily know what has changes without them having to crawl every page.
- Page title are H1 tag by default. As search engines crawl websites they rate the importance of content based on the HTML tags they are under. As the H1 is the most important tag, your title becomes the most important piece of content on the page.
- Alt tag options for all images. When search engines look at content they index images based on their alt tags. Website with images that have alt tags appear more content rich and rank higher.
- Low load time. One of the things that affects SEO is the load time for a website. A website with low load times will rank higher than one with high load times.
- Images are optimized and have dimensions parameters. To improve the load time of your website we optimize your images for web by default. If you need your images to appear in their original format you can turn optimization off.
- Meta descriptions tags adding for each individual page. Adding meta descriptions that match the content of your website helps the SEO ranking of your website.
- Nested navigation. Nested navigation allows your to silo content based on subcategories that will improve the breadth of keywords you site. Nested navigation also reduces the amount of links on a page which also improves SEO.
- Adding hyphens between blank words in page names. Compared to underscores or percentage signs, hyphenated page names have a higher SEO ranking.
- Ease of updating. Pages that are frequently updated rank higher in SEO that pages and sites that have not been updated in a long time and appear less relevant to search engines. We pride ourselves on providing the ability to make changes quickly and easily.
- Allowing you to name pages with keywords (as opposed to using internal page identifiers). Search engines look at the page name when they rank a website on certain keywords. Having the name of the page the same with the keywords your are trying to rank higher on helps you rank higher.
Measuring your SEO success
The most important part of getting started with SEO is being able to manage your site's performance and see where you can improve. SEO is a constant process, and Yola offers an SEO performance-management tool, Traffic Builder, built into our Premium Yola Gold package.
Traffic Builder's dashboard provides at-a-glance insight into your keyword and search engine rankings. Also included is an integrated scan, that scans your site and highlights any problem areas.
Take a look at the Traffic Builder FAQ for more information.
Why is SEO important?
To better understand what SEO is, you need to understand why it is important. Any website that needs traffic to survive needs search engine optimization. There are millions of webpages on the internet, and it is the search engines job to add all of those pages to its index and whenever a query is performed find the very best webpages to display to the searcher.
There are many, many factors that the search engines take into account when choosing which webpages to display in what order in the search results. They look at factors such as the amount and quality of links coming into a site which is considered extremely important, and the site tags and page content. Performing various search engine optimization techniques on your site will help your site get noticed by the search engines and give them reasons to send searchers to you.
What is a search engine?
Search engines provide internet users with a way to find information in an organized fashion. A search engine uses special software called an algorithm or spider to go through the entire web and add pages to its index. These engines are used by millions of people every day, and it is up to the search engines to provide the people who use their service with the best information possible. When you do a search the search engine will pull the most relevant web pages from their index to show you.
What is indexing?
Indexing is an important part of having a presence on the web, but what does it mean to be indexed?
Search engines have extremely large indexes which hold a copy of all of the webpages they have crawled and chosen to add to their index. The search engine spider crawls through the web, following links, and when it finds a page to add, it will make a copy of it, and add it to its index. When this has happened to your site, you can consider it as having been "indexed".
This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for a site to be indexed, and the process must take place for every new website. Your site will only show up in search results after it has been indexed.
To find out whether your site has been indexed, go to Google and in the search box type "site: mysite.com" (substituting your website for mysite.com). This will give you a list of your website pages that are in the index. If there are no results, the indexing has not happened yet. You can do this same search at Yahoo and MSN.
What's search engine ranking, and how do search engines rank pages?
Search engine ranking refers to where a website or page appears in the search engine results page.
Each search engine and directory has its own ranking and listing criteria. Generally, search engines use proprietary ranking algorithms to determine the quality and relevance of a web page to decide whether or not to add the page to its index. The exact criteria used are a closely-guarded trade secret. This is to ensure that no one can "hack" the system and engage in unfair SEO practice.
When calculating page rankings, search engines focus on copy, Title tags, keyword usage, and the amount and relevance of inbound hyperlinks all contribute to your search engine ranking.