The term SEO is an acronym meaning “Search Engine Optimization”.
As its name suggests, it refers to all the techniques and strategies that aim to increase a website’s visibility and improve its positioning within a search engine results page (the famous SERP). Since Google has been the most popular search engine for a while now, SEO includes all those activities, whether direct or indirect, internal or external, that aim to make a website as “compatible” as possible with Google’s search algorithm. The search algorithm is simply a set of rules Google uses to analyze websites and establish their quality, relevance, and congruence with the search string that the user enters. The more pertinent, relevant, and high-quality the website seems, the higher it will be positioned in the list of search results.
SEO, a mandatory choice
In the world wide web, the concept of “visibility” is intrinsically tied to that of “existence”: if your website isn't visible, it may as well not exist. Now, if we suppose that search engines (Google in particular) are the most widely used tools for accessing websites that are not already known to the user, we immediately see why SEO is a mandatory and essential choice for anyone who runs a website.
Especially since recent studies (SearchEngine People 2017) have shown that for any given “query” (the term typed into a search engine's search bar), 75% of clicks are concentrated on the first page of results, and 33% of these go to the very first link.
5 fundamental SEO strategies
Unfortunately, SEO is a very complex topic. It includes many factors within and outside of your website, involving programming, structure, content, images, URLs, and links to and from the page. Some believe that shares, likes, and followers on connected social media accounts also factor in. It is because of this very complexity that SEO is best understood (and implemented) as a broadly integrated strategy rather than as a mere sequence of individual actions.
Under this premise, there are some simple, yet fundamental SEO strategies that anybody can implement to significantly impact their site’s visibility within the SERP.
Creating quality content
For good reason, the quality of a website’s content is the cornerstone of any SEO strategy. “Quality content” means content with high added value, which fully responds to user needs. Texts must be well written, useful to readers, and relevant to the informational/commercial needs they claim to answer.
Keep content up-to-date
Constantly updating content not only has a direct positive effect on users, it also helps satisfy the Google algorithm’s positioning requirements: constantly adding new content and frequently updating existing content draws the attention of the search engine and encourages it to index your website.
Choosing the right keywords…
To earn a position at top of the results page, it is important to decide which keywords to insert within your website. This requires having a clear picture of who your target users are, what they need, what you intend to offer them, and who your competitors are. The keywords themselves should be selected according to at least three factors: their relevance to your website/activity, the keywords’ own search volumes (how often they are used in searches), and what competition they face from other keywords.
…don't overdo it
Forcing too many keywords into your content will result in the opposite of the effect you're aiming for. This is called “keyword stuffing”, and not only does it worsen the quality of the text and its readability, it actually lowers your page’s index position. In fact, Google punishes excessive keyword density, either by lowering ratings within the results page, or often by penalizing the domain.
Inserting internal and external links
Inserting internal links, that give structure and hierarchy to the content, improves how search engines index the page, especially if the “anchor texts” (the words and phrases into which the links are incorporated) are chosen with care. While internal links improve indexing, incoming links from external pages (backlinks) help to increase your site's visibility, especially if they originate from popular and diverse websites and authoritative domains.
To conclude this brief overview, here are a few warnings. The best way to make a website "SEO ready” is to create it that way in the first place, rather than to restructure it once it’s already been made. Doing so not only saves on the time and expenses involved in a complete remodeling, but also achieves more homogeneous and organic results which are better able to align the content’s usability and quality with its ability to effectively respond to search engine algorithms.
The second tip is to not be tempted into trying to fool the search engine (a very popular approach up to three or four years ago) by using tricks or - worse - by trying to “bend” your website to the requirements of the search engine and therefore misrepresenting it: the results could be disastrous.
Take care of your SEO, and your SEO will take care of you.