Posts Tagged 'organic results'

When it Comes to SEO, the Color of your Hat Matters

SEO White Hat

SEO White Hat

In movies set in the wild west, the good guys always wore white and the bad guys donned black. The same is true in the world of search engine optimization (SEO).

“Black hat SEO” is a term referring to unethical techniques employed to “trick” the search engines to rank a web page in a top spot of its organic search, despite its true relevance – or lack thereof. Examples of black hat techniques include:

  • doorway pages — website entry pages filled with keywords that are crawled by the search engine bots, but visitors are immediately redirected to the “real” entry page.
  • keyword stuffing — placing a lot of keywords on a web page rather than quality content.
  • invisible text — placing keywords on a page in the same color as the background so that the human visitor doesn’t see them, but the search engine bots do.

Although black hat SEO techniques may deliver top rankings in the short run, sites employing these run the risk of being penalized — or even banned — from the search engines.

“White hat SEO” refers to techniques used to aid search engines in understanding and ranking content based on adhering to SEO best practices. There are numerous things a website owner may do to improve a site’s SEO, but it all amounts to one thing: build a site that is very rich with quality content and people and the search engines will find the site. Google provides a lot of information about SEO best practices. Give it a read for an even better understanding of white hat SEO and you’ll be sure to have happy trails.

Happy Trails for the White Hat SEO

Happy Trails for the White Hat SEO

To Understand SEO, Get to Know Google First

When you pitch a new business prospect, you get to know a little about the company first. What business are they in? Who are their customers? Who are their competitors? How big is the company? And a million other things. You cater your pitch to appeal specifically to the prospect. The more you know in advance, the higher your odds of winning the account.

Well, it’s the same thing with search engine optimization (SEO). If you want to understand SEO, you first need to gain an understanding of how search engines work. And with a tight grip on 60+% of the search market, that means Google! Here’s a simplistic look at how Google works, from the 50,000 foot level.

Google has bots or spiders ─ programs it calls “Googlebots” ─ that “crawl” billions of web pages everyday. The Googlebots analyze the pages to determine what each page is about (keywords to match to your query) and the relevance of each page (incoming links from other pages that help determine the importance of the page). All this information is stored to create Google’s “index.” The index is constantly being updated to add new pages as well as to record changes to existing pages in the index.

When you place a keyword into a Google search box, Google checks its index to determine which pages are most relevant to the keyword and presents (or “serves”) a snippet of those pages in order of Google’s proprietary and highly complex ranking algorithm.

Here’s an illustration from Google that shows the search query process, which by the way, is usually executed in less than a half a second:

"Life of a Google Query" by Google

"Life of a Google Query" by Google

Think of SEO as a process of employing various techniques to:

    1) ensure that the pages of a website are easily and thoroughly crawled and indexed by Google
    2) maximize the relevancy of the web pages through quality links and other Google-defined factors
    3) closely match the content on web pages with targeted keywords

For a little more explanation of crawling, indexing and serving, check out what Google has to say on the subject. Soon you’ll be ready to make your pitch to Google.

The Anatomy of a Google Search Results Page

Natural listings, organic results, sponsored ads, SERPs — these are just a few of the terms used to describe elements of a Google results page. But do you know what each one means? If they’re Greek to you, then keep on reading.

When you conduct a search query on Google, the results page presented — also known as a search engine results page or SERP — usually contains links that are free as well as links that are purchased. Free listings are referred to as “natural” or “organic” results. They represent the majority of the results on a SERP and are found along the left side of the page. See the green box in Figure 1 below.

Purchased links are called “Sponsored Links,” but may also be referred to as “pay-per-click ads (PPC),”  “Google AdWords” or “paid ads.” Sponsored links are found along the right side of the page, and may also be the top three links on the left side of the SERP. See the pink boxes in Figure 1 below.

Organic results vs. Paid results

Figure 1 -- Organic results vs. Paid results

As suggested by the name, Sponsored Links are paid ad placements based on the purchase of clicks for specific search query keywords. Organic results on the other hand, are completely controlled by Google. Google bots crawl millions of web pages every day, constantly analyzing the context of pages and adding them to its index. Using Google’s proprietary and incredibly secret algorithm, it serves up organic results to your query, making every attempt to provide the highest quality web pages matching the keywords.

There is a lot more that may be said about how PPC and organic listings happen, but we’ll leave those for other posts. For now, if you would like a detailed explanation of all of the elements on a Google SERP, visit Google’s Web Help page (link).


Welcome

There are approximately 12 billion searches conducted on the internet each month. And that number continues to grow. As more companies look for ways to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive environment, marketers seek to integrate search engine optimization (SEO) into their marketing communications. And with the advancement in non-technical online tools, SEO is not just for programmers and search marketers anymore. Search Matters is specifically for marketers who want to learn about organic search and how to integrate SEO into their integrated marketing communications programs.

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