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SEO Southwest

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Part 1: what is SEO?

Lately I have noticed that SEO or search engine optimization is still a foreign word for the vast majority of people with which they do not know what to do. When recently the SEO elections 2013 ran, for which I was also nominated, many asked me what I was doing or what search engine optimization was. This shows: Even if the topic of SEO has now become a matter of course for many - but especially for those who work professionally with the web - the majority of the population still has no use for it.

This is of course a shame, especially for these reasons:

  • SEO helps improve the quality of the pages on the web. Targeted and well thought-out search engine optimization creates content that also and above all offers users significant added value. In addition, the ranking of the optimized pages can be improved.
  • From an SEO service provider perspective, and I also belong to this group, it is an advantage if more people know SEO and know the advantages of optimization. Because only those are considered as clients for the SEO service provider.

The aim of this series is to introduce everyone to the topic of SEO who has not yet dealt with it, or only marginally. The aim is to enable you to understand the effects of measures on your website and to be able to do basic things yourself. But there are also advantages for advanced search engine optimizers, because the structure used enables a structured approach and can be used as a kind of rough checklist.

 

The three areas of SEO

SEO is a sub-discipline of search engine marketing (SEM for short). It is a collective term for a variety of activities that are intended to result in a website achieving a higher ranking in Google's organic search results. Organic means that the search results are generated by calculation - the search ads or ads are to be distinguished from this. Search engine advertising (SEA) is concerned with creating and optimizing them.


The SEO is carried out specifically for previously selected search terms - so-called keywords. The better placement increases the chance of more visitors to the website and thus of additional customers, subscribers, buyers, etc. As a side effect of search engine optimization, the click rate can also be improved - i.e. the proportion of search engine users who receive a search hit and click on this too.


The respective SEO measures differ in whether they are carried out directly on the respective website (for example by optimizing the texts or graphics), or whether it is about maintaining, building and optimizing links that point to the website . The measures on the website are referred to as on-site optimization, the optimization of the links as off-site optimization.


The success measurement or success control is added as further building blocks of SEO. The implemented measures must be monitored with regard to their effectiveness in order to counteract if necessary or to be able to react to new developments. Firstly, the search algorithms from Google and Co. are constantly changing, and secondly, the competition never sleeps either.

 

On-site optimization

As already mentioned, on-site optimization relates to all SEO measures that are carried out directly on the page to be optimized. In short, it is about the areas of content, technology, design and usability.

 

content

Probably the most important part of on-site optimization relates to the content of a website. For Google, the topic relevance of a website plays the decisive role for the ranking. This means: The higher Google rates the importance of a website for certain keywords, the higher its chance of taking a good position in the search results for these keywords. However, topic relevance is not expressed, as in the past, by how often a certain term occurs in the text, but goes much further. For example, it is important which synonyms, i.e. alternative paraphrases, occur for a term, whether related topics are also touched upon, and so on. That means: Creating SEO-compliant texts is an art that needs to be learned. There are now many agencies that specialize in such services. The trick, however, is to create the texts in such a way that they are interesting for the readers and offer added value.

The same applies to other website content: Images, tables, videos, etc. should also be prepared in such a way that they are as relevant as possible. This can be achieved, for example, by choosing suitable file names or certain HTML attributes. Structural elements of a website are also part of it - the most important are the headings. The right choice of headings can have a strong influence on the relevance of websites.

 

technology

The technical basis of a website has a great influence on the quality that Google assigns to it. The most important and central factor here is speed. The faster a website loads, the better. This is especially true in times increasing mobile use with limited bandwidth. The content management system used (Wordpress, Joomla or similar) also plays a role. It is important to ensure that the systems and plugins are up-to-date - also and especially to protect against hacker attacks.

Additional technical factors include the speed and performance of the server, the database and the network connection. The programming languages ​​used (PHP, Java, etc.) also influence performance.

 

Usability and design

The increasing mobile usage has already been mentioned with regard to the technology of websites. In connection with usability, it is all the more important. If you consider that the number of mobile users is growing and sometimes even the number of desktop users exceeds, the optimal display on tablets and smartphones is of great importance. Responsive design is the keyword here. This means that a page is always displayed in the best possible way, depending on the size and display of the respective screen. This applies not only to graphic elements or the navigation area, but also to the content itself. This can be shortened on smartphones or tablets or even displayed completely differently than on a large monitor.


A well thought-out design and good usability mean that users stay longer on a website and return more often. This user data is in turn registered by Google and Co. and can be included in the evaluation of a website.

 

Offsite optimization

Links are very important for the ranking of a website. Google and most other search engines assume that the reference to a website, expressed by a link, is regarded as an appreciation of the linked website and thus as a quality indicator. So far so good. But not all links are created equal. The quality of the links differs significantly. In addition, the mechanism of linking was and is often used to artificially improve the ranking of a website. For example, links are bought, link networks and link exchange groups are formed and much more. The so-called negative SEO is even worse: Here bad links are intentionally set from dubious sites in order to discredit a certain website. In this context it was also often Google's Penguin update called. The aim of this is to identify bad links in the link profile of a website. If such links are recognized, the relevant page may be downgraded.

The purpose of offsite optimization is to improve the number and quality of the links that point to a web page. This can be done in different ways. Strictly speaking, the only method of link building that is really compliant with Google guidelines is to create high-quality content that offers an incentive to set a link. However, hardly anyone restricts himself to that. The number of ways you can get additional links is almost unlimited. Posts in social media such as Facebook, Google+ or Twitter are already standard today. Entering a website in directories is another source of links, but is rarely used today. In addition, there are press releases, guest posts in blogs, participation in forums or the posting of comments.


With all these measures, care must be taken not to overshoot the target and to ensure a slow but steady link building. If you set up too many links too quickly, Google will be puzzled. The regular control of the link profile is another important part of the offsite optimization. Above all, it is important to watch out for suspicious links that could damage the ranking of the page (keyword “negative SEO”).

 

Success control

Constant measurement and control is one of the main tasks of an SEO. Even before the first measures are carried out, an inventory must be carried out, which must then be repeated at regular intervals. Here come special ones SEO metrics for use, which provide information about the success of the measures. Of course, the ranking for certain keywords is particularly important, because this is the main goal of SEO. But key figures derived from it such as visibility (a measure for the ranking of a large number of keywords) or the level of activity in social media are not allowed to be forgotten.

Even before the start of search engine optimization, there should be a concept of how the success of the measures is to be measured. The target keywords for which the page is to be optimized must also be included.

 

What's next?

The next part of the series will be about onsite optimization, i.e. all SEO measures that can be carried out on the website: technology, content, design and usability. This is followed by offsite optimization and, in the last part, success measurement and control.

 

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