The Yellowstep Team By The Yellowstep Team • June 20, 2014

4 fundamental factors of SEO explained

SEO_imageSearch engine optimisation (SEO) is an ongoing consideration for every business's website. Optimising your site effectively with longtail keywords and phrases ensures you get found by people searching for your products and services (your potential customers), so knowing how well you're ranking in search engines is pretty essential. 

However, building an effective SEO strategy for your business can seem both intimidating and overwhelming. With on-page, off-page and many different algorithms to worry about, where on earth do you start? 

Search engines are sophisticated beasts

Search engines give you multiple answers to your queries in under a second by crawling websites and ranking them in your results in order of relevancy and authority. Sophisticated beasts with ever-changing algorithms, search engines can customise results based on a user's browsing history and demographics so ensuring your site gets found in organic results is becoming trickier. 

Let's start by looking at definitions and best practices of the 4 fundamental aspects of search engine optimisation which will provide a basis for your SEO strategy.

Title tag

Also known as a page title or a meta title; a title tag is the main description of each web page and has long been seen as the most important on-page SEO element. Title tags appear at the top of your browser and are also displayed in search results.

The ideal length for your page titles is around 55 characters. They should include two keywords and be displayed in an easy to read fashion for example: primary keyword | secondary keyword | company name. By doing this you will increase your click-through rates and visibility as search engines will highlight them in the results if a user has performed a query including those keywords. 

Meta description

A meta description is the blurb of information below the title of a search result. Its purpose is to describe the contents of the page to the searcher. The end goal is to entice the searcher to click through to your website over all of the others. Any words that match the search term are highlighted in the description.

Meta descriptions must not be longer than 155 words and although keywords are highlighted in search results, it is not a place to stuff them. Your descriptions need to focus on providing users with a clear and concise summary of each of your web pages. 

Alt text

Unlike humans, search engines read only the alt tags of images, not the images themselves. Your alt tags must be a clear description of what your image is. For example, you have uploaded a picture of this dog onto one of your blogs:

Bad alt tag: IMG_123456
Good alt tag: Dog_biting_toy 
Great alt tag: Pug_puppy_playing_with_toy

For great alt tags you must ensure that you're writing one and also that it goes into detail of what the image is actually portraying. This allows search engines to ensure that your images are relevant and aren't spammy. It also allows users with visual impairments to have a great user experience too. 

Inbound links

Inbound links are links on external web pages that direct customers and search engines to your web page. They can also be referred to as 'backlinks'. For example, I will link to HubSpot's guide to inbound links as a way in which you can find out more in-depth information or to reference a quote I have used in a blog. By doing that, HubSpot have now received an inbound link from us.
The more links there are to a page, the more reliable it will seem to Google (from reputable sites - online industry publications are great for this). Google rewards reliable content that other people want to link to, with higher search engine rankings. 
Optimising your website for search engines isn't an easy task but by avoiding black hat tactics and ensuring that you have the fundamental elements nailed, you'll be on the road to high ranks in no time.
Here's a selection of our blogs that you can consult to further your knowledge in the SEO field: 

Photo credit: SEOplanter