First of all we need to be clear what we mean by search engine optimization (known as SEO). When you create a website it can look fantastic, but it is a bit of a waste of time if no-one actually sees it. If you want your site to have visitors, you have a choice between paying for advertising to direct people to your site, or designing your site with search engines in mind, and taking steps to ensure that it will show up in the top results when people search for terms relative to your site.
Search Engine Optimization is a huge subject, involving far more than can be covered in one article. For this reason I will be writing several articles on the subject, each focusing on one important aspect of SEO.
So search engine optimization works by enabling us to understand the things that search engines value, and gearing our actions towards keeping them ‘happy’. That is an over-simplification, but sums up the basic idea. It is about making your site search engine friendly in order to achieve high rankings in search results. The harsh reality is that if your website does not show up in the top thirty results on Google for your main search terms, it may as well not exist.
If you are considering setting up your own website, or have already created one, you cannot ignore the need for your site to show up in search results. I knew nothing at all about websites or SEO when I started, and after nearly a year of learning by mistakes and constantly re-doing my site, I was able to rank fifth out of over 8 million results on Google for my main search term.
I learnt how to do it the hard way, but hopefully you can avoid some of my mistakes and get there a bit quicker. The main thing is to have an understanding of how search engine optimization works at an early stage, so that you can design your site with that in mind from the beginning.
The most fundamental aspect of search engine optimization is the need for quality content. If you are serious about finding out more about search engine optimization and how it works, sooner or later you will become aware that there are two main approaches to achieving rankings. One is known as ‘black hat’ and involves trying to exploit loopholes and fool the search engines into ranking your site much higher than it really warrants. The other approach is called ‘white hat’ and is about creating quality content that search engines actually value.
Let us discuss the white hat techniques. Apart from the fact that the web is already overloaded with enough rubbish already, black hat techniques only ever work in the short term until the search engines catch on. Legitimate white hat SEO will result in long term good search results that will improve over time, whereas with black hat techniques you are always having to start again and constantly trying to find new ways around the search engines.
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