Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing traffic to a website by increasing its visibility in search engine results. It includes techniques that aim at improving the rankings of a website so that it appears in the top few search engine results. Search engine optimizers target different kinds of searches that web users conduct. This includes image and video searches, text-based searches, as well industry-specific ones. The process includes keyword research, website traffic analysis, and web content optimization. Content optimization involves the inclusion and right placement of keywords and links in the content, and the use of optimized HTML code.

Keyword Optimization: Search terms, or words and phrases that are frequently searched by web users are known as keywords or key phrases. They are used to describe the purpose and content of a website. They enable a website to rank higher in the search results. A good search engine ranking depends not only on the choice of keywords but also on their placement on the page, as also their density. Keywords should best describe the topic and content of a web page. If they generate lesser search results, it means that they have less competition on the web and thus have higher chances of ranking better. But lesser search results could also indicate that their search is less. It means that targeting them may not bring much traffic. Thus, we can see that keyword optimization is of help only when the right search terms are targeted. It is important to place the keywords in the title and in the description of a web page. They should also be present in the content, and their placement should be natural.

Link Building: A link is a navigation element that directs a user from one web document to another. A hyperlink from one page to another is treated as a vote cast by it to the page it links to. Links from popular websites are treated as votes with greater weight, and thus help boost the ranking of the page being linked. Relevant links in content make the page more useful to a reader, further boosting its ranking. The use of dead links, those which direct a user to an inaccessible page, should be strictly avoided. Google considers outbound links from a website as determinants of the quality of its content. Internal links (links between pages of the same website) help search engines understand the size of that website, thus making it a strong contender for higher rankings.

Website Design: The design of a website has a role to play in its ranking. It should be easy for the search engines to navigate web pages. According to experts, search engines prefer text over graphic or multimedia formats. Websites using Flash or Javascript should make an HTML version of their website available to the users. Search engines read the contents of a left navigation bar before they read the main content. It is important for website developers to avoid placing excessive content on one page. Instead, they should distribute the content evenly across well-structured and internally linked webpages. It is advisable to use topic pages containing articles that focus on a particular subject. Websites that have more number of pages on a subject have higher chances of ranking better than the competitors. Also, it is important for a webpage URL to correspond with its content. According to experts, it is essential for every website to have a site map. A site map is a page that has links to all other pages of a website, thus helping these pages rank in prominent search engines.

Use of HTML Tags: Besides gathering user attention and improving usability, HTML tags also play a vital role in search engine optimization. Title tags are used for displaying page titles, which are the most visible elements of a web page. Heading tags can be used for prominent display of content. Meta tags help a search engine in listing a website in its index. These tags are inserted in the beginning of a web page code, following the title element. The meta description tags are used to influence search engine crawlers that support the tag. Meta keywords tags are used to reinforce certain important terms in the web page content.

Avoid Black Hat SEO: Attempts to improve search engine ranking in ways not approved of by search engines, are known as black hat SEO techniques. Using hidden text or hidden links in order to manipulate the relevancy of web content is an unethical SEO strategy. Excessive use of links, or the embedding of unrelated links in web pages is another example of black hat SEO. Webmasters should refrain from following such practices as they hamper a website’s rankings.

Search engine optimization strategies are central to online marketing and Internet advertising. They help increase a website’s visibility in search results. But they should never overshadow the importance of good and useful content. The quality of web content should never be compromised. Content that appeals to the readers earns greater popularity and the chances of it ranking, increase.