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What is SEO?

Search engine optimization or SEO for short, is a set of rules that can be followed by webmasters to optimize their web sites for search engines and thus improve their search engine rankings.

In addition it is also a great way to increase the quality of their web sites by making them user- friendly, faster and easier to navigate. SEO can also be considered as a framework since the whole process has a number of rules (or guidelines), a number of stages and a set of controls.

Search engine optimization is essential because:

• The majority of search engines users are more likely to choose one of the top 5 suggestions in the results page so to take advantage of this and gain visitors to your web site or customers to your on-line store you need to rank as high as possible.

• SEO is not only about search engines but also about good SEO practices to improve the user experience and usability of a web site.

• User’s trust search engines and having a presence in the top positions for the keywords the user is searching increases the web site’s trust.

• SEO is also good for the social promotion of your web site. People who find your web site by searching Google or Yahoo are more likely to promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other social media channels.

• SEO can put you ahead of the competition. If two web sites are promoting the saving grace of Christ, the search engine optimized web site is more likely to rank higher and get more visitors.

What are the main stages of the Search Engine Optimization process?

As I mentioned above, SEO is not a static process but rather a framework with rules and processes. For simplicity though SEO can be broken down into 2 main stages:

• On-site SEO: What rules to apply on your site to make it search engine friendly

• Off-site SEO: How to promote your web site or blog so that it can rank better in search results.

On-site SEO

There is no magic way to rank your web site in the first page of Google, Bing or Yahoo. Search engines are governed by complex algorithms and it takes a lot of effort to ‘convince’ them that your web site or page deserves one of the top spots.

Nevertheless, there are certain rules we follow to optimize your web site and provide the bots with the necessary signals. We implement the following methods in the effort to ‘convince’ the search engines to rate your site highly:

1. Page Titles and description

2. Permanent link structure

3. Breadcrumb

4. Internal links

5. Text formatting and the use of H1, H2 and H3

6. The 404 Page

7. Image Optimization

8. Page Speed

9. Google authorship

10. Mobile friendly web sites

11.  User Sitemap

12. Content is still king

13. Fresh Content

14. Check your external links

15. Webmaster tools and Analytics

 

Off-site SEO

Besides the changes you can do to your web site (on-site SEO) to get higher rankings, the other way to improve your web site’s ranking position is by using off-site SEO techniques.

Off-site SEO is generally known as link building but I prefer to use the term web site promotion since a proper way to promote a web site involves many more methods and techniques than building links.

In general, search engines are trying to find the most important pages of the web and show those first when a user enters a search query. One of the factors to determine the position a web page will appear in the results is the number of incoming links.

Incoming links are a signal of trust and depending from where the links are coming, they can greatly affect your ranking position (either positively if the links are coming from well-known and trusted sites or negatively if they are paid links, article directories, link farms etc.).

In Conclusion

To sum it up, Search engine optimization or SEO is a way to optimize your web site so that search engines will understand it better and give you higher rankings. It is important since a good SEO approach can drive more traffic to your church web site and fulfil your purpose.

 

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