I think we can all agree that terms like “spiders” and “crawlers” sound like things out of a horror movie, or at the very least things that you would be prepared to fight off with a questionably large arsenal of traps, repellants, and poisons. I know can’t be the only one. However, in the awesomely backwards world of SEO spiders and crawlers in fact serve a good purpose. These virtual not-so creepy crawlies, also known as “automated robots”, are responsible for scouring the approximately 1 trillion links that make up the World Wide Web. This in turn helps search engines rank and index the content (for example web pages, PDFs, cat videos, etc.) that makes up these links, making it easier for good-looking Internet users such as yourself to navigate this exceptional platform.
Now, before continuing I would like to admit to being a noob about all things SEO prior to reading through SEOmoz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of what SEO is, how it works, and why it is important for anyone who wants an Internet presence to utilize it. What’s the point of having a website if no one is able to find it? You wouldn’t want all the hard work it took to put together www.101waystocookcorn.com to go unnoticed would you? Well this is where SEO comes in.
While a good portion of successful SEO is quite technical, and myself not being the most analytically brained person, there were 4 main things I took away from my newly acquired knowledge…
1. Build sites for users, not for search engines (but also a little bit for search engines too)
While it is important that your website makes it onto a search engine’s radar, your ultimate goal is to be found by living and breathing people looking for the product, service, or information that you are providing. In order for people to find your page and stay on your page, your content needs to be user-friendly. This affects your search engine ranking, as the more people share your site and return to it, the more signals are sent to search engines that your site offers a positive user experience. Ensuring your content is relevant and engaging should thus be one of the first steps taken in your quest for web relevancy. However, there are also things you can do to directly get the attention of search engines. For example, ensuring that the primary keywords that drive traffic to your site are both implemented correctly and tracked on a regular basis is also important in helping search engines guide users to your awesome content.
2. It’s a popularity contest
So, you’ve starting dressing and acting like the cool kids at school but for some reasons the cool kids still want nothing to do with you. This might have something to do with the fact that you’re still sitting alone in a shadowy corner playing Angry Birds (no judgment here). Simply put, in order to be noticed people need to know that you are noteworthy, and this same logic goes for websites. Therefore marketing is an important part of SEO, and the promotion of your website is crucial to its success. Taking the necessary steps to make sure that your content is being shared tells search engines that your site is of a high quality, which in turn increases your ranking. By harnessing the power of Internet marketing you can ensure that your website is seen as both “relevant” and “important” to search engines.
3. I’ll show you my link if you show me yours
Link building is one of these most important tasks for an SEO. SEOmoz describes it as an art. It requires innovation and is unique to every individual and their respective websites. Since links are the primary vehicles of web traffic, it should follow that the more links you have, the more traffic your site will get. While this is true in some instances, it is also important to search engines where these links are coming from. 20 links on an unknown site, such as “www.101waystocookcorn.com”, will not be as beneficial as one link on a trustworthy site such as “www.theglobeandmail.com”. Search engines use this data to determine their rankings, and therefore it is of the utmost importance that SEOs and Internet marketers develop strong link building campaigns.
4. If you spam you are a bad person
In the world of the Internet, spamming is the 8th deadly sin. Keyword stuffing, cloaking, and manipulative linking are just some examples of spamming used to exploit SEO. Actions such as these weaken the integrity of the Internet, but luckily search engines and web hosts are pretty good at cracking down on spammers by observing trends and banning users who create such sites. Overall, spamming (intentionally) is bad and yes the world is judging you.
I encourage you to take a look at the full Beginner’s Guide to SEO by SEOmoz, as there is a lot of really awesome and useful information to be had. The attractive colour scheme and fun illustrations don’t hurt either!