The internet has become our primary source of information. Positions on results pages reflect the ratings search engines award websites. Those that comply with search engine criteria appear closer to the top spot. Search engine optimization is a process that adapts websites to search engine rules.
The Philosophy Underpinning SEO
Search engines introduce stakeholders to websites. They measure their organic success by the frequency this happens. This depends on the validity of the matches over time. They believe their model works best when:
- A website is genuinely about what it says it is
- A website opens quickly to reveal well-ordered content
- A website contains recent content regarding its topic
- A website is part of the greater web judged by backlinks
Search Engine Optimization in Practice
Search engines apply an automated assessment process based on extensive algorithms. The prime focus is consistency around the central topic. The subject is in the website code. The evidence of compliance is in the content. This must be original, and contain keywords that users search for when they need information on the topic.
When search engine computers are satisfied with this, they search for internal links within the website, and for external backlinks to websites around the same theme that they have favorably rated previously. These links confirm that the target website is indeed part of the bigger internet community. Following that, it is just a matter of assessing the website’s functional efficiency.
White Hat and Black Hat SEO
There is a huge amount of money riding on search engine results. In fact, they make or break any website because nobody really looks beyond second results pages. “White Hat” search engine optimization gurus stick to search engine rules, although success only comes with time. Black Hat”witches” try to bend the rules to the advantage of their clients.
Search engines are constantly on the lookout for internet cowboys. They have recently enforced new rules focusing on eliminating plagiarism, and ensuring that websites are genuinely what they say they are. Blacklisted “Black Hat” websites has become a common occurrence. When this happens, it is as if the website never existed.
On-Site and Off-Site Optimization
So far,I have focused on the search engine optimization of a website itself. I have addressed engineering for speed, well-organized content, and internal consistency. I have also alluded to the need for a website to be part of the greater worldwide community. This is where off-site SEO and especially hyperlinks enter center stage.
The increasing Importance of Backlinks
A backlink – or inbound link – is a connection between two websites. It performs several important functions in terms on off-site SEO. These include:
- Organically connecting websites on related topics to improve rankings
- Providing access to related information on third party websites
- Growing user trust by linking across to “authority sites”
The debate is ongoing regarding whether creating “artificial” backlinks from social media pages and article directories is pure white hat SEO or not. All these have one thing in mind, and that is to bring traffic to the parent site. For now, off-site search engine optimization and backlinks will continue to play a significant role. The future will determine what happens next.
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Written by Ruslan Bershtein, T&T Web Services – CEO.