Search engines are indispensable platforms for users around the world to search for information on the Internet. Search Engine Optimization or (short term SEO) is a process of improving the results of your web pages in search engines for a selection of keywords. Search Engine Optimization is one of two types:
- Internal On Page, which is the process of improving the content of the page itself in your site.
- External Off-page, which is the process of improving the rankings of your pages away from the site.
In order to reach good results, you need to work on the two parts at the same time and not neglect one of them.
In this article, we aim to explain to you in detail the role of search engines and how it works and the importance of SEO for your business.
What are search engines and how do they work?
This question may seem intuitive at first glance, but let us present this different and easy definition of search engines.
A search engine is a web-based software that is available online. It searches for keywords that the user entered in documents and files and returns a list of results containing those keywords.
What are the most famous search engines globally?
Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Baidu are examples of search engines and these examples are the most commonly used around the world.
Here a quick look for the number of searches conducted on each of these engines around the world using desktop computers (Source: NetMarketShare)
Note that Google is the top one, even with that each engine has its own target audience, for example, Baidu is a famous search engine in China, Yandex is also a well-known search engine in Russia and so on.
What are the most famous search engines in our Arab world?
You can say that in our Arab countries you can rely on Google and Bing only! How on earth where is Yahoo? Over the last few years, Yahoo has abandoned its own web crawlers (you can say its own search engine) and started relying on Bing. Also, Yahoo is using Bing advertising platform and abandoned its own platform.
What is the search engine optimization or so-called SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the rankings of a website in search results. This is done by adding content to your site that includes search terms or phrases that users typically search for when using a search engine.
Site structure, navigation between site pages and code of site are also important when improving the rankings of websites in search results. SEO is called organic, natural or non-paid search results.
The term SEO is often confused with the term search engine marketing (SEM) which is a fairly broad term and simply means the use of search engines to enhance the appearance of your website on the Internet. Search engine marketing (SEM) includes paid search engine optimization for many services that increase traffic to your website.
Pay per click (PPC), is for each click on your site on the results page will have a cost associated with that click and text ads may be seen above or the right of the search page when you use Google or Bing. In contrast, SEO focuses more on internal improvements to web pages, as well as off-site improvements via e.g. backlinks. Simply in another way, SEO is part of SEM.
What is local search engine optimization?
In October 2010, Google began focusing on local search in its results pages. They did this by merging Google Maps information into their search results pages. They also updated their search algorithms to deliver more local results, giving a higher ranking to search results for local and nearby businesses. The closer you are to business, the more likely Google is to raise the result of this business in your search results.
Here are some user behavior statistics for local search only:
- 97% of people search online before buying from local businesses.
- 70% of people use local search to find nearby businesses.
- More than 40% of US retail sales on the ground are affected by the web.
- 20% of all Google searches are for local information – about 600 million searches per year
Seo is important for businesses because people search for nearby local businesses on the web even if the company does not sell products or services online. Therefore, it is important for everyone including small businesses to have a local presence on the Internet.
How will your business benefit from Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization improves the visibility of your business online, it increases your visibility to your target audience and allows you to target specific segments of your audience by easily selecting the right search term for that segment of your audience. The impressions in the search results are divided into two parts, Organic Organic SEO, which is the non-paying impression for these results. The second part is appearing in the Ads section of the Search Result page, which is known as Pay Per Click or (PPC).
Note that there is a small icon appears indicating that the result is paid and not organic. And that the payment is for each click on the result of your ad, for example, 0.5 Saudi riyals for each click but the price varies according to the importance of the word term. Clicks cost up to 120 riyals or more for one click. As the monthly search times increase on some words the more importance it has. The search volume reaches up to 755 million searches per month for one word! or increases. Imagine how much money your business is losing because your pages are not optimized in search results!
What is the role and importance of optimizing your site for search engines?
Every business wants to increase its profit and improve its visibility across the Internet on different search engines. So we have two options,
Paid ads or Organic SEO, which is simply improving the rankings of a site in a specific set of search words on a particular search engine. There are three types of searches:
- Query about a transaction or a deal such as “What is the best e-store development company?”
- Query about information such as “What are the symptoms of the cold disease?”
- Inquiries for browsing the Internet such as “What are the best sites to buy assets?”
When a search is done on a search engine like Google, the user sees the following:
- About 10 unpaid organic search results
- Hundreds of pages of search results
- Few results paid per page
All these sites compete to improve their positions in this search term simply because this appearance in the results = $$$.
Organic results on each page get the majority of clicks, and users tend to click only on the top three or four results as they are the most relevant search results.
What are search engine optimization techniques?
As we mentioned earlier, search engine optimization techniques are one of two types:
- On-Page SEO is the process of improving the content of the page in your site.
- Off-page SEO is the process of improving the rankings of your site by actions that are away from these pages.
Both techniques are equally important to maintain and improve the overall ranking of a website in your targeted keyword.
To achieve success in SEO, you should follow these simple steps in your business site:
- Understand how search engines work.
- Get your site ready.
- Identify relevant search terms for the users you target.
- Update the content of the site according to these search terms.
- Create confidence for your site with your visitors, customers and search engines.
On Page SEO vs Off Page SEO
As mentioned previously, On-page SEO is the process of optimizing your site for search. It includes changing the structure of the page (so engines can crawl and index web pages), review the page code (HTML code) and improve content (placing targeted keywords in the right place). This process requires access to the control panel of the site or site’s files to be modified.
On the other hand, Off page SEO is a process where the improvement of your rankings in the results of search engines depend on actions that are done away from the pages of your site. Therefore no need to access the control panel of the site.
Promoting the site on other websites is the important action in Off-Page SEO. The process includes posting links to your web pages on the sites that are relevant. The success of this process is to ensure the quality of the external links (so-called Backlinks) that point to your site and improve its quality over time.
What are the internal SEO factors?
- Page title
Place the targeted keywords in the title tag for each page on your site.
- Headings, especially (H1)
Headings are usually the largest words on a page, and for this reason, search engines give them a little more value. It’s a good idea to put your targeted keywords in the heading of each page in a way that reflects the content of your page.
- Page Link Structure or URL
Place your keywords in the URLs of your site pages if available. However, do not change all of your existing URLs so that they contain keywords without redirecting your old URLs to the new ones, you can communicate with your developer and tell them.
- Alt Text or Alt Attribute
Every content management system allows you to add something called “alt text” to all images on your website.
It is not visible to normal visitors if the browser loaded the images successfully.
Alternative Text is already used by the screen reader software to help blind users to understand the content of your images.
Search engines also crawl images in a similar way (they can’t understand images accurately as we humans do), so entering relevant keywords as image descriptions will help search engines understand your content better.
- Page load speed
Google wants to help its users to find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible to provide the best user experience. Optimizing your pages to load faster helps your site to rank higher in search results.
- The Content
The content on your pages should be useful to visitors of your web site. If they search for something very specific on your page, they should be able to find what they’re looking for. Your page should be easy to read and provide value to the user. Your page content should also be related to each other. Google has different ways to measure whether your content is useful to your visitors.
- Internal linking between pages
The internal linking between pages on your site is useful for visitors. It helps them to have a better navigation experience. It is also useful for search engines for the same reason.
What are the external SEO factors?
Search engines don’t rank search results on an on-page basis only. In fact, there are several external factors that affect the rankings of your pages in search results.
1- External links (Backlinks)
The most important factor in external SEO factors is backlinks. When another site places a link to a page on your site that calls a backlink. Backlinks from trusted sites emphasize the importance of your content to search engines. Your content may receive backlinks on its own and that is the natural situation. However, in many cases, you will need to make some effort to get backlinks. You can get background links by:
- Link your Facebook page to your website
- Submit articles to other sites within the same niche
- Add your site to site directories
- Reach influencers and bloggers in your niche
2- Domain Authority
The power of your domain name is another factor of external search engine optimization (SEO). the more search engines trust your site the more powerful your domain name is. The power of a domain name is affected by the following:
- How long do you have the current domain name (the longer the duration the better)
- The number of sites that refer to your site
3- Social media Interactions
There is no doubt that search engines can’t index the huge amount of content created every second on social media platforms. However, search engines try to do so over time. Not only indexing content but monitoring interactions on social media platforms. The more interactions are the better. Visits, shares, comments, likes, or reposts count is a strong indicator for search engines that indicates how reliable this page is. Publishing content that benefits your followers helps to raise the rankings of your site in the search engines.