When you enter a search term into Google or Bing, and individually ranked results appear within a second of pressing Return, it’s easy to forget the incredible amount of processing power and calculations that have gone into delivering these results.
Modern websites are individually examined and ranked on factors ranging from loading times and compatibility with mobile devices through to the content they carry. And it’s this content which underpins one of the internet’s greatest challenges – the process of optimizing webpages for search engines.
More commonly referred to as SEO, search engine optimization is a constantly changing artform governed by highly secretive search engine algorithms. While the precise formula behind results listings remains a closely guarded mystery (to prevent people cheating or rigging the results in their favor), the process of boosting a site’s performance can be managed with a number of SEO tools. These website-hosted platforms allow people to constantly adjust content and monitor its performance, with the aim of achieving the best results.
These are some of the most valuable SEO tools for beginners:
Most of us rely on Google for our web searches, but Google does a great deal more than simply rank and display results. A small piece of code enables Google Analytics to monitor audience activity across easy-to-read graphs and tables, which highlight where visitors come from and what they do once they’ve arrived. Knowing that two thirds of your site traffic comes from a particular region can maximize the benefits of targeted online ads, while knowing most visitors leave on your Costs page might indicate your prices are a problem.
Google doesn’t just track website visitors – it can also recruit new audiences through targeted advertising. Google ads appear on thousands of websites as well as its own, where ads appear in response to particular queries. SEO tools like AdWords know how commonly each term is searched for, calculating the cost that’ll be incurred whenever an advert is clicked on. Pay-per-click advertising only incurs a fee whenever the ad delivers a visitor to your website, which is far better for firms with limited budgets than traditional hit-and-hope advertising.
Yoast is a surprisingly user-friendly platform considering the technical calculations it undertakes. It examines existing websites, and identifies ways to make each page perform better in future search results. Yoast intuitively introduces beginners to concepts like meta tags and keyword frequency, while its traffic-light ranking system provides a logical way for people to ensure SEO benefits are achieved on every page of a site.
Although Moz Pro contains some of the same SEO tools as the packages listed above, it places greater emphasis on links. These are vitally important in collating search engine results, indicating any third-party sites that link to your own. Knowing where these backlinks are located can give you a far better understanding of where site traffic comes from, while Moz proactively seeks to build more links to improve your site’s overall ranking.
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