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Search Engine Optimization: Rising to the Top
The days when you could help people find your business by naming it AAA-Aardvark, Inc. are gone. Find out what SEO experts think about when they’re trying to send your site to the top of the web.
Search-Engine Optimization (SEO): The process of improving a website’s performance in organic search-engine results. A good SEO strategy these days will include attention to social media as well as links and the content itself.
Organic Results: A list of websites displayed in a search in order of relevance, not including sites that have paid to appear in ads or sponsored links at the top of the page.
Internal SEO: Optimizing your own site’s content and metadata—that is, page titles, image tags, and other data that help organize and explain your content—so it can be found by search engines' powerful information-sniffing noses. Part of this involves finding out what keywords people use when they’re searching for the kind of services your business offers and then incorporating them into your site. There’s no need to go overboard with this, however: search engines these days favor keywords that are used as part of natural language rather than scattered in haphazardly.
External SEO: Improving your search ranking by getting other websites to link to your site, thereby indicating that it’s seen as an authority on a topic. External SEO might come in the form of directory listings or articles and blog posts published on other sites. Not all inbound links are desirable, though. For instance, search engines privilege traffic from .gov or .org domains, while links coming from spam comments or poor-quality sites that exist only to host ads will count against you.
Penguin: An algorithm released by Google in 2012 that tries to create more organic results by detecting and demoting websites that try to game the systems. Penguin also relies more on social media than previous algorithms, using likes, shares, tweets, and comments shouted at the screen to determine a site’s relevance and validity.
Black-Hat Optimization: Raising the ranking of a website via deceptive or even illegal methods—larding pages with content harvested from other sites, placing search terms or links in hidden text, or throwing irrelevant keywords into your content, for instance. When companies are found to be engaging in this form of cheating, Google punishes them by removing them from organic searches. This happened to BMW in 2006 and to the site Rap Genius in 2013, to name a few high-profile cases.