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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of making modifications to your website to make it more visible to search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
The goal of SEO is to make it easier for search engines to digest your site to increase the likelihood that your site appears prominently. Properly done, SEO can have a significant impact on the amount of organic traffic a website receives.
SEO is an art and a science. It involves numerous factors from the uniqueness of your content (the art) to optimizing load times and having the right meta tags in your HTML (the science).
The good news is that much of what makes a site rank better in search also positively contributes to user experience (UX).
Most people rely on search engines to find what they're looking for online.
When searching online, over 90% of people never click beyond the first page of search results. What about the position of results on the first page?
The #1 position recieves almost 20% of clicks, the second receives 10%, the third 7%, the fourth 5%, and all the others less than 2%. Ranking high for your relevant keywords can be the difference between an obscure site and a thriving site.
If you want your site to be found by people online, you need to maximize the likelihood that a given search has your site is ranked prominently.
Search engines are smart and are constantly being optimized so that the most relevant results are returned to users. This is the primary purpose of a search engine and so naturally, our objective is to increase our sites relevance and search engine accessibility.
Enhancing search engine accessibility
Robots META tags control the activity of search engine crawlers on a page-by-page basis.index/noindex tells the search engine whether the page should be crawled and indexed. Search engines default to indexing.noarchive restricts search engines from caching a copy of the page.follow/nofollow indicates to search engines whether or not the page should be crawled.nosnippetnoodp/noydir
With your homepage at the top, organize pages in categories and subcategories. Try to keep categories roughly equal in size, ensuring that no one category is more than twice the size of any other category.
Each page should link to its subpages. This is intuitive for visitors and has the added benefit of adding to your internal link authority.
Your sites URLs appear are one of the first things seen by search engines, they appear all over, and are read by many people. Having short and clear URLs can impact click-through rates and visibility. They can be tough do optimize retroactively so try to do them right from the start.
URLs should reflect the pyramid-like structure of your site. For example, yoursite.com/automobiles/sedans/best-sedans is preferable over yoursite.com/best-sedans. The first URL shows a clear hierarchy and will be easier to maintain as your site grows.
Include keywords in your URLs to be descriptive but the shorter the better. When using multiple words, use hyphens to separate them.
Pick a case (preferably lower) and stick with it.
Duplicate content, be it identical, close enough, or cross-domain, can hurt the ranking of your entire site. Understanding this is especially important for e-commerce sites (where multiple instances of the same or a similar product can exist) and in content management. There are a number of ways to deal with duplicate content.
Most experts seem to recommend using the canonical tag. The canonical tag is used within the rel property of a link element in the document head section:
<Head><link rel='canonical' href='absolute.com/url' /></Head>When a search engine runs across a page with a canonical tag, instead of interpreting the page as a duplicate, it will attribute the page to the canonical URL.
Another way to prevent search engines from registering a page a duplicate is to include a Meta Robots tag in the head section indicating noindex and nofollow :
<Head><meta name='ROBOTS' content='NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW' /></Head>
You can also disallow search engines from accessing a page through Robots.txt:
User-agent: * Disallow: /duplicate Disallow: /parent-of-duplicate/
Your strategy when optimizing for relevance will center on content and keywords. Ask yourself these questions.
When looking for information, products, or services in your niche, what do people search for?
What is your competition in this niche doing? To compete for search rank, how can you stand out?
The answer to these questions will determine which keywords you pursue and what topics your content focuses on.
Is your site laid out in such a way that navigation is intuitive and your information is easily digestible?
Is the information provided relevent, making users want to stick around?