SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” is the process of making the best and most effective use of coding, organization, and layout of website elements so search engines can read the website’s data and index the website accordingly.
Search engines use their indexes to determine search results. Websites that are not indexed due to errors or bad practices will not be displayed as a result for searchers. Poorly optimized websites will not get indexed well and will result in low organic search results.
Essentially, SEO is a combination of three (3) separate yet major components:
- Organization & Layout: Content, website hierarchy, keywords, and keyword research; and
- Optimization: Website speed, performance, and responsiveness to fit all devices.
Search engines attempt to “think” like people. Search engines deploy algorithms that will ding websites for loading slowly, having errors, lack responsiveness and ability to display correctly, or if the content is hard to find. Search engines, like people, will leave (or negatively index) pages that aren’t easily readable, hard to navigate, and slow to load.
Good Clean Code
In short, search engines crawl websites expecting to be able to read the website’s code with ease. Search engines expect websites to follow the latest coding standards and not have errors, otherwise they may not be able to correctly parse and read the website’s data. If they can’t properly read the data, then the data will not be properly indexed and the website will not appear appropriately.
Beyond good clean code, there are places within the code where search engines need help understanding the content. Rich text snippets exist for this reason (i.e. user ratings, products, prices, breadcrumbs, etc. can be directly identified by search engines). Also, the basic “alt” tags in images tell the search engines directly what the image is. Alt text strengthens the message with search engine spiders and improves the accessibility of your website.
Search engines also consider the speed of the website as a factor for search rankings. Search engines strive to give the best results to the searcher, so search engines weigh many of the same factors that a person would consider when narrowing down search results. If a website is slow, a person will leave the site. Search engines know this and will give priority to faster websites because that’s what the people want. Furthermore, Google openly stated that websites optimized for mobile devices will take priority over those that are not optimized for mobile.
Organization & Layout
Content organization and keyword targeting are just another part of the pie. Conducting research and identifying keywords that are being used by searchers is a must. We’ve seen success with this strategy, which is why we constantly dish out the money for services like WordTracker and Ahrefs. Some web pages and keywords may not require many changes if they are doing well in the search results, but other web pages and keywords could require monthly tweaks to get the desired search ranking. If a page that was doing well drops off a bit, it may require some adjusting.
SEO is not so much a mystical black magic industry as it is just trying to do things right by the book and keeping up with it – because the book changes quickly in this industry.
At Cirkuit, our web developers only use “white hat” methods and stick as closely as possible to the latest standards and optimization guides.