Search Engines and Your Business

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If you own a business with a presence on the Internet – whether you’re a Portland-area freelance writer like me or a process server like my client, VeriServe Solutions – you know the importance of search engine rankings.  Or I hope you do.

I wanted to write a blog post to get you up to speed on the essentials.  I come at search engine optimization (SEO) from the content side, and that’s the focus of this blog post.  Sites like the Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, or Search Engine Watch have way more information on SEO strategies.

So let’s get started on the basics!

An algo-what?

I was an English major in college, so mathematical terms seem like words of a foreign language to me.  Merriam-Webster defines algorithm as, “a set of steps that are followed in order to solve a mathematical problem or to complete a computer process.”  A search engine algorithm is essentially a way for computers to figure out a specific web page’s significance.

Okay cool.  So how do search engine algorithms affect my business?

Your prospective customers type queries into search engines all the time; a search engine algorithm determines which websites appear on the first page.  You certainly want to be one of those businesses, since you want prospects to easily find you.  Yahoo! and Bing have their own algorithms, of course, but Google is the $1,000+-per-share gorilla of the group.  Google searches for more than 200 “signals” of what people want to find.

I read something about Google Pandas, Penguins, and Hummingbirds (oh my); are these algorithms?

Yup.  Panda and Penguin were updates meant to cut down on poor content and spamming, respectively.  Hummingbird is apparently a brand new animal (no pun intended, kinda),  according to Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land.  Hummingbird was released September 2013.  Sullivan says it looks at, “how important links to a page are deemed to be …  along with other factors like whether Google believes a page is of good quality [and] the words used on it.”  Each word of a search engine query is getting attention with Hummingbird.

Quality content affects search engine results?

Yes.  The days of spammy, keyword stuffed articles and poorly written articles are done, on Google and everywhere else.  In fact, algorithms can punish a website for this type of poor content, as Danny Sullivan relates in another article.  So it’s actually in your best interest to create quality web content that ranks highly on a search engine so that (you guessed it) prospects find you.

I hope you found this article useful.  I wrote it partly because I wanted to inform my audience, while also demonstrating my idea of quality content.  For instance, I cited my sources with intertextual links, and I identified article authors, when applicable.  When you create content (or have content created for your site), you should expect no less from your marketing team.

Do you create content on your websites with algorithms in mind?  Do you have a content strategy?

Image credit:  Mahesh Raj Mohan

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