SEO 101 For Albany’s Small Businesses Pt 1: The Basics

organic and paid search listings | SEO Without Borders

Over the last 12 years, a massive amount of material has been written about Albany’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) environment.

The majority of the information is acceptable, but there’s a lot of dated information still being promoted as best practices (exact match domain names, keyword density targets, exact anchor text, and so on).

SEO 101

In this series, you’ll learn the current best practices in SEO that companies of all sizes can use to increase site visibility and the number of visitors coming to your site, and most importantly, improve conversion rates.

The United States Census Bureau research shows that a whopping 89% of internet users search online before they buy a product – even when they intend to buy that product from a local business.

Pew Internet conducted a survey that found 92% of adults online use search engines to find information, and nearly 59% of them do it daily.

Of the daily searches, 46% are for information about products and services.

What does that mean for you?

Most of your potential buyers are going to search online for information before making a purchase.

In order to have a chance to make the sale, you have to be found.

And, so you have to be find-able.

How search engines make money (and why it matters)

There are two kinds of search results Organic results are “natural” results.

Search engines attempt to return the web pages most relevant to the search query, and rank results according to perceived value derived through complicated algorithms.

Paid results – so-called pay-per-click (PPC) ads – are placed by advertisers (or third-party advertising networks) and displayed according to a formula that includes how much the advertiser is willing to pay, how relevant the ad is to the keyword, and the quality of the landing page.

Search engines make money by getting searchers to click on ads.

These ads are displayed both on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and on ad networks they are associated with.

Just as with any other medium, the more people that use a specific search engine, the more advertisers are willing to pay for their ad to run.

Search engines are extremely vested in providing the best, most relevant organic search results – every single time.

It’s the only quality that makes them sticky, and the only competitive edge that matters in their business model.

Their market share will always be fragile, as there’s a very low barrier for the user to switch search engines.

If a searcher doesn’t trust that the search engine they’re using provides the best results, they just visit a different one and repeat the search.

This erodes the search engine’s user base, which means fewer searches to serve ads against … and lower rates for the PPC ads.

All of the major search engines are working very hard to increase the quality of their organic results.

For example, Google typically makes between 500 and 600 algorithm changes each year.

The majority of these updates are fairly minor, just small feature improvements or minor tweaks to how Google ranks a site.

As an example, Google update #82580 was an improvement for showing the sunrise and sunset times search feature.

Major SEO Algorithm Updates

There are a few major algorithm updates each year that have significantly wider impact.

These algorithm changes are generally named, and are focused on improving a searcher’s experience with the organic results.

They often involve improving Google’s ability to detect web pages that deliver a bad experience or are trying to trick the search engines into ranking them better. Major changes in the last few years include:

Panda, which was designed to lower the rank of low-quality sites, advertising-heavy pages, and duplicate content.

Penguin looks for link spam and devalues it.

Hummingbird is actually a major infrastructure change that incorporates Penguin and Panda, among a flock of other algorithms.

Among other things, with this change Google sought to do a better job with “semantic search,” partly as a response to the fast-growing use of mobile devices.

The goal was to better match search results to the user intent underlying the query.

Regardless of whatever algorithms are added or updated in the future, search engines will always be tightly focused on providing the best experience for the searcher in order to become (or remain) the engine of choice, grow their traffic numbers, and charge more for advertising.

This will continue to work in your favor if you optimize your site and content to deliver what people want to find.

Julian ConnorsSEO 101 For Albany’s Small Businesses Pt 1: The Basics