Discoverability is critical for societies in attracting new members. They need to be able to find your website quickly and easily. Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is one way that your website can rise to the top. To learn more, we sat down with Wiley SEO expert Tatiana Pacheco.
Q. Let’s start with the basics. What is search engine optimization?
A. Here’s the definition according to the dominant search engine itself, Google: “Search Engine Optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.”
This means there is an ongoing process of improving a site’s organic search visibility by optimizing the site for search engine ranking factors and improving the user experience of the site. This involves not only bringing more organic traffic to your site but ensuring that it is quality traffic and users who are visiting your site are genuinely interested in your product and getting relevant information to their search queries.
If you are new to SEO, I would recommend watching this video, which is relevant to the publishing industry and will help you to understand how Search Engine Optimization works.
Q. Are there any easy changes that organizations can make to improve their website’s SEO?
A. SEO is a long term process that takes time and involves strategic planning of the content and technical aspects of the site. Many people in your organization should be involved in the site’s optimization, including product managers, public relations, designers, developers, writers, and social strategists.
There are some quick wins:
- Optimize existing pages according to SEO Best Practices
- Create new content keeping SEO Best Practices in mind
- Make sure that all pages can be crawled by search engines and eliminitate any technical obstacles for the site's organic visibility.
Q. Can you explain a little bit about the difference between on-page and off-page factors?
A. It is very simple! On-Page factors are elements within the organization's site: headings, page titles, domain name, URL structure, video, and images. Off-Page factors include anything outside of the organization's website: backlinks, social media accounts, affiliates, and reviews.
On-Page and Off-Page SEO Optimizations are both imperative for the organic visibility of the site. There are over 200 different factors in a search engine"s algorithm, including social signals, user interaction, and trust.
Q. Different search engines have different algorithms for how and when results appear. Do you have to balance different SEO strategies for different search engines?
A. There are a few major search engines in the United States: Google, Bing and Yahoo. According to Search Engine Land, 90% of searches happen on Google and from what we see in Wiley SEO reports, Google is undoubtedly taking the highest search share in the United States.
However, in other countries, there are other players that you would consider individually when optimizing the site. For example, the majority of the Chinese population is using Baidu while the majority of the Russian Population is using Yandex, and South Korea uses Naver.
So for every country search optimization will be conducted on a case by case basis. However, general best practices apply to every search engine, because each of them aims for an optimal user experience. If you look at the history of improvements of the Google algorithm, you will see that all of them were catering to an improved user experience, eliminating sites with bad practices and encouraging digital players to create the best user experience possible, while providing quality content and easy accessibility. Thus, even though search engines in different countries might have different algorithms, they run on this principle and aim to improve their users’ experiences.
Q. To close, I wanted to ask you to do a little future-gazing. Do you see any changes in how search engines operate and how SEO might evolve?
A. SEO has become more important and sophisticated over the years. Google is constantly making improvements to its algorithm to display only the most valuable and relevant sites to users. The SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) layout changed drastically. In recent years Google implemented many new services like Google Quick Answers and Accelerated Mobile Pages, etc.
This trend will continue. Mobile First Index will be huge by the end of 2017 and early 2018. It is no longer a question as to whether sites need to be mobile-friendly or not; it is an absolute must! The question now is mobile strategy and how to outperform competitors on mobile devices.
With so many voice devices, voice search will play a huge role in 2017. Optimizing for voice search can give organizations a very high competitive advantage & ROI.
SEO professionals need to adapt to changes and have a strategy in place to stay on the top of the competition.
Have you found SEO to be a challenge for your organization? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Image Credit:Your Design/Shutterstock