A brief history of Search
To fully understand search we need to go all the way back to the early days of the internet: 1990. Just kidding, though search engines have been around a long time and haven’t always worked the way they do today. But if you’re interested, in the early days of the internet there was no search, you had to know the exact URL of the site you wanted to visit. Eventually people understood the need to create an index of the web and search was born (early search was bad). Throughout the 90’s this began to evolve and in those halcyon days of 1996 we got BackRub: the beginnings of Google. We will talk a lot about Google in this conversation because of where it stands today. But for history purposes the origin of Google is important, for the first time search was based on popularity (or Authority, today: Domain Authority). Google included how many other sites linked to yours and thus popularity became a key measure of your ranking. Fast Forward ~25 years skip over a Yahoo here and a Bing there and you arrive at today; there are a lot of way to search the internet but the cheese stands alone: Google.
You can read an in depth history of search here.
How does Search work?
To best understand how to optimize search we have to understand what that even means. I don’t really have enough space here to explain “the algorithm” but the gist is that Google indexes all of the sites on the internet. It crawls your site looking for specific words and phrases, and then through a combination of factors (time online, frequency of updates, build of the site, backlinks, and frequency of key words/phrases) assigns you a ranking for each word or phrase. This is by no means a comprehensive explanation of search but at least gets us close enough to talk about SEO.
What is SEO
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is, put simply, the practice of building a website that will encompass all of the phrases your customers are searching for and, because you’re a reputable website, show up either first or on the first page for those terms. Some version of this practice has been around as long as we have been keeping lists; think about the first company to name themselves AAA just so they would be the first business in the yellow pages. The idea is simple, if I’m first I win the business.
How to Optimize
Research. Research. Research. Seems simple, and that is a little reductive, but the most effective and efficient way to Optimize your site for search is to understand your audience, understand your competitors, and understand your consumers behavior. Once we know how people find your business, and businesses like yours, we can begin writing copy to capture those keywords. If you, for example, are a surgeon it is important to understand that your patients aren’t going to search “total hip arthroplasty,” they are going to search “why does my hip hurt.” By understanding our target audiences behavior we can better tailor our keywords to them.
Understanding your audience and tailoring your content to that audience is only half the battle. We also want to use the correct headers in our writing, format our images for search, and make sure we have enough backlinks to be considered reputable. A simple way to increase backlinks is to include your URL across your digital presence (think Social Media platforms, Google My Business, or making sure if you have partners they link to your site).
At Alpha Co. Marketing & Media we love research and we love SEO. If you’re interested in learning more about how an agency can help you, or even just want to pick an experts brain feel free to give us a call (713-482-1879) or visit our website.