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Basic SEO Principles

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Search engines are the primary "mode of transportation" around the internet. That's why if you want your website to become popular -- no matter what it is -- optimizing its pages to end up higher in search results is essential.

Unfortunately, very few people look past the first few pages of search results. But if you do get to the top, your website traffic will likely skyrocket. The information in this article will be mostly centered around how to optimize for Google because it is by far the most popular search engine.

Links

Links are one of the most important factors that Google uses to rank your website. If the websites that link to your page have a good reputation with Google, this signals to their search-engine algorithms that your website is also trustworthy. The result is that your page ends up higher on search result pages.

There are link building services available that offer to link to your website from other reputable pages. These can be helpful to young websites trying to get off the ground.

Content

Before you write anything for your website, you should think about which keywords people will use to find it. This isn't as simple as it may seem. For example, imagine that you are making a website for a law firm. Besides contact information and basic biographical content on the members of the firm, there isn't much to say about it. You will end up competing with every other similar law firm in the city. This is where a blog comes in handy. Blogs are a great way to increase your SEO with content. They build up your website to include more pages that people might stumble across. If the website is for personal injury attorneys, there are a plethora of blog posts about personal injury law that you could write. What are the specifics of worker's compensation in certain situations? What are the statistical outcomes of personal injury lawsuits? The bigger your blog is, the more keywords you have, and the more your site will be indexed.

Metadata

In general, metadata is all of the information about a website that isn't the website itself. The most relevant metadata to SEO is the "meta description," a fancy word for the short description that appears under each search result. It might seem unimportant, but besides titles, meta descriptions are the only real way for people to judge what your page is about and hence whether or not they should click on it. And now that Google has increased the maximum length of these descriptions, they have more potential than ever to draw people to your website.

Other SEO Factors

Google updates its search algorithm constantly. Over the years, it has accumulated so many factors in ranking search results that it would be impossible to go over all of them in this article. But there is an intuitive way to understand SEO without having to keep up with every minor update to the algorithm. Google's goal is to return quality websites in response to search queries. So, using common sense, you might deduce that Google favors content that is:

  • Unique, as opposed to rewritten or duplicated
  • Substantial, as opposed to "spun" or "keyword-stuffed"
  • Relevant to the keywords that are on the page

And you would be correct. Google also looks at how people interact with your website. Do they ignore it or return frequently? How long do they stay on your website after they enter it? Do they suffer through high loading times? These factors all affect Google's perception of your website's quality.

Search engine optimization isn't about exploiting algorithms. At the end of the day, if your website sucks, people won't return to it, even if it continues to show up at the top of their search results. But it's helpful to know some of these practices to help get your website's feet off the ground.

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