Apr 3, 2016

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

written by ninja

According to reports generated by NetCraft and Internet Live Stats ,the are currently over one billion websites listed on google with the number of internet users on the high billions as well.Survey conducted by Yelp for business also showed that about 85% of consumers nowadays search for their content or product online.A lot of businesses have noticed this hence the paradigm shift in the way business is conducted,marketed and financial aspects handled.

A few days ago,I saw it covered on the Kenyan Nation newspaper, a notice that on the 13th of April 2016 they would cover an exclusive content on SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION.I seriously must give applause for such bold move but one in the right direction.A business,in this day and age,regardless of what you are doing whether it is retail or hospitality,has to incorporate some bits of IT in management,running,analysis and marketing of the business.Those owners that understand how to leverage technology to their favor have an advantage and well,better chances of scaling and improving on business performance and growth.One of the most basic and simplest way (not so simple though) of starting to embrace technology is building,for your business,a simple website.Whether it is to achieve the goal of marketing or maybe conducting sales,a lot of businesses are moving towards having websites.And a long the way,a lot of web designers and developers have been born (or “cooked”,whatever the case maybe),and a long with them a mushroom of SEO experts.Some are legit,many have no clue what they are talking about.

A quick disclaimer before we delve into the topic of the day :We do not in any way deal with Search Engine Optimization nor do we claim to be SEO experts.However,this does not mean we do not comprehend SEO and its essentials.Lets begin by a simple definition of the term SEO. To understand what Search Engine Optimization is,it is imperative that one first understands what a search engine is and how they work.The assumption here is that most reading this blog understand what a website is and how the web works.According to webopidia, “Search engines are programs that search documents for specified keywords and returns a list of the documents where the keywords were found”.To most of us when we think of the term search engine,we think of Google,Yahoo or Bing. In as much as these are the major search engines in the world right now,there are plenty more out there that wouldn’t hurt checking out (Like Go Go Duck,I love the engine because of the name).Important words to note in the definition of the term search engine are keywords and documents.Think of it this way.All the web pages are “files” which are stored on this large database.When a user wants to find something,the type it in on the search engine and it goes and checks what the user has typed against the documents stored.So what happens when their exist more than one “document” (website) with the same kind of information that the user requires? Then we have a bit of a conundrum. Let’s take a step back and just see how search engines work and what makes them tick.

Contrary to what most people think (no am just joking!), Larry Page,Sergey Brin or Sundar Pichai do not sit somewhere drinking coffee and decide upon which websites to rank first and which ones to rank last.A typical search engine works by sending a crawler or a spider to the website (web url) to fetch as many documents as possible.Then another program called the Indexer reads these documents and creates an index for them.In short,it creates a ranking system.In google,this spider is given the special name, GOOGLEBOT. At this point,we can comfortably try to come up with a patchy definition for Search Engine Optimization.

Search Engine Optimization is the process of increasing the number of people visiting a particular site or in some cases,your site by making sure that the website appears on the first pages of a search engine result.In short,it is increasing your page rank or site rank to make sure it is among those that rank the highest. SEO experts are people who do this job,for a living (saying it like that just makes it sound more dramatic).

Back in the day,the most important elements of SEO was keywords and back-links.Experts thus devised a way of ensuring that their site ranked highest by stuffing their website with keywords,something commonly referred to as Keyword Stuffing and buying back-links from sites with bigger authority.And some of these sites with authority would gladly sell back-links.Lets bring everybody up to speed,shall we?Keywords,in regards to SEO are words in the content of a web page that you consider of great importance.How you use them would also make the search engine crawling your website to see the as words of great importance.If you are writing about optimization,then the keyword is optimization itself.Back-links are simply an anchor link from one web page to another.You might have noticed that I link some of my definitions or surveys to a particular site.It would mean therefore,that because of that mention;those sites have back-links from Katana Inc.These two techniques worked for quite a long time.And they succeeded,everybody went home happy.

Then came the big blow to most SEO experts.Search engines,being led by Google at the forefront started to update their ranking algorithms,to ensure that the sites that ranked highly wore those that are legit and contain relevant content for the user.And with the updates came penalization.Dear readers,should you meet an expert who promises to do miracles to your Page Rank in just a few months;I would suggest you decline the offer.Penalties for using such dubious methods of trying to boost your web presence can lead to temporary or permanent ban by the search engines.For lack of a better lingo,it means being kicked out of the google club.That means I would have to type the whole url on the address bar to find your site,which means only those who know you or your company can really find you.

If SEO has changed,what has it changed to and what are some of the good practices to adhere to? We are going to be discussing a few of them.Of course by now you know two practices to avoid.Here we go:

  • Social Media : Unknown to many,even the experts themselves; a lot of search engines actually consider Social Media as an important aspect when they are ranking sites.The activity and content that are displayed on your social media page matter a lot.In fact,majority of the time,a search for a particular business or company usually returns the Facebook or twitter page as the first result.For business,understanding how to harness the power of social media to increase your conversions and site traffic is really important. Engaging activities on your social media page shows legitimacy and search engines are more likely to believe that your website does not contain any malicious intent.Therefore,optimize your social media pages and keep ’em busy.
  • Speed :  Another yet unknown trick to Optimization is your site’s speed.At the core of google’s mission is to improve on the way information is organized and accessed.Larry and the team (or now its Sundar and the team) are very insistent  on User Experience.Speed is a key factor when it comes to UX and Google knows it.That might the reason why they created Page Insights.To help developers boost up their web speed perfomance.
  • Content: Google brought in RankBrain along with its ranking algorithm updates.And yes,it is officially confirmed folks!!Long content beats short content.According to an analysis ran by serpIQ analyzed for top 10 results for over 20,000 keywords; they proved the point that longer content tends to perform better than short content.So how does this work? Or what justification can there be for it? Well,in trying to analyze our content,we consulted with Market Muse and got an opportunity to talk to one of their sales representative called Matt.It appears that google no longer looks for isolated keywords,but the querry is geared more towards the keywords plus related topics that surround it.How well you address these topics determine your site’s authority.In doing these,my advice would be to use content analyzing software such as the one market muse has.Or if your site runs on wordpress,you can also make use of plugins such as Yoast Optimizer.
  • Responsiveness: Like mentioned earlier,google takes a lot keen interest in the User Experience.And that means having a mobile optimized website.With frameworks like Bootstrap and MetroUI,this shouldn’t be hard to achieve.
  • Links: Links have always been the backbone of ranking algorithms.Personally I think this would never change.The first issue to be looked at here would be broken links.Broken links affect negatively on your site’s performance,especially on google.Make sure your site has none.The major issue I wanted to highlight here was how search engines have changed the nature of how the look at linking.Back in the days,it was a case of stuff as much back-links as you can and you were good.However,search engines are shifting the way they approach this to help serve the user better. Natural back links are now what are being looked at. How relevant the back link is to your particular site,and whether their is any relationship whatsoever between the two websites serves as a premise when looking at PR (Page Ranking). While educational and health sites have been considered to have much more authority,ensuring the links are natural while help in boosting your site’s SEO.
  • HTTPS over HTTP : We all knew this day would come.The day the world would turn against their own.Google has announced that sites with SSL (Secure Socket Layering) will be given precedence over those without.If your website deals with sensitive information such as credit card number or contact information deemed personal then you have better hurry up and get yourself SSL. Shared SSL does not improve your page rank just in case you were wondering,it is as good as having HTTP.

Conclusion: There are over one billion sites that are currently listed on Google.I insist on this particular search engine because it the most commonly used one.Establishing your dominance and web presence can play a critical part in elevating you business to the next level,because as mentioned earlier a lot of buyers are looking for products online nowadays.However,SEO is a long process that doesn’t take a month or two for the results to show.It requires consistency and constantly improving your website.If you meet someone telling you they can do it in a few months,please tell them to contact us;we would like to know HOW THEY DO IT.If your website is new,then do not focus on ranking high for the next one year.Focusing on building an audience and delivering quality content.Once you have those,move onto to SEO. Google crawls websites about once every two months,you have enough time to slowly and consistently improve on the quality of your content and website.

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