Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is something every webmaster needs to know about but all too many are scared of. That’s understandable. It sounds like high flying techno-geek jargon, and to a certain extent, it is. Don’t let that fool you though. With a little patience, you can pick it up and learn to use it to generate better rankings for your website on internet search engines.
There are a lot of internet search engines, the most well known of which is Google, but there are others as well. The top ten are:
- Baidu (China)
- Wolframalpha (facts, data, calculations)
- Internet Archive (archive.org)
- Yandex.ru (Russia)
Since many websites are run on WordPress, you need to know the do’s and don’ts of SEO for WordPress websites in order to get a good ranking on these search engines when someone types in “best whatever” and hits
Let’s Dive In
First of all, what is SEO and why should you care about it? SEO is how search engines list websites that have answers to questions people are asking. It’s about understanding what people are looking for online, what kinds of answers they’re looking for, the specific words they use to frame their request, and the type of content they want to get in return.
Internet addresses (URLs) start with “www” which stands for the World Wide Web. This is why search engine programs that search the internet are known as web crawlers. They crawl the internet looking for answers to people’s questions, and storing those answers for future reference and use in what are called search engine results pages – SERPs.
In other words, a search engine is an answer machine. You put in a question, pull the lever, and out pops an answer. Or many answers.
What Search Engines Do
Firstly, search engines will send tiny applications known as robots, bot, crawlers, or spiders to scour the internet looking for links and information. The information, or content, can be anything from pictures to text to music to PDFs and anything else you can post online.
Secondly, search engines will try to catalog or index all that information, much like the card catalog in the library. When you’re looking for a book you go to the card catalog. It tells you where in the library to find the book, what section it is in, what row and shelf. The search engine is the card catalog of the internet. It doesn’t have the actual information, it just tells you where to find it.
However, on the internet, there can be multiple answers to even the simplest question. For instance, where is a good hamburger restaurant? The answer will depend on what city you’re in and how many hamburger joints there are in it. These days, even a tiny village in the middle of nowhere could have seven or eight hamburger places.
So, thirdly, the search engine has to rank the results from highest to lowest. Which one is the best? Which one is second best, the third best, and so on and so on and so on.
Improve Your Ranking
WordPress is a popular way of creating websites but it isn’t the fastest car on the track, so to speak. So, just as there are many ways to optimize and speed up WordPress sites, there are also ways to improve your websites’ search engine ranking. That, in a nutshell, is what SEO tries to do.
By listing your websites’ information in a way that search engines can easily understand and use, you help improve its ranking when someone types in question that is relevant to your site.
Some Search Engines Are More Equal Than Others
Whether you like it or not, Google is the elephant in the room when it comes to search engines. Studies have shown that 90% or more of all online searches take place on Google. There are different kinds of search engine optimization, some of which is specific to Bing or Yahoo or DuckDuckGo, etc. But if Google can’t use that SEO, or has trouble understanding it, you’re only hurting yourself.
Create your search engine optimization according to Google’s preferences, then try to optimize around that for other search engines. While that admittedly creates a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, the fact is we live in the real world and you’re not going to get anywhere by ignoring Google.
Learn what their robots are looking for and tailor your optimization to make them happy so you’ll get the most traffic you can.