What is SEO?

SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, explains the process of optimizing one’s website to increase its presence and visibility on the search results of Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Presence – rank the website for as many keywords as possible.
Visibility – rank as high as possible for all the keywords.

Why is SEO Important for Your Business?
Google alone receives over 600 billion searches a month – 60% of these users are searching for information prior to buying. By ranking for these keywords, you can reach out to potential customers who are looking for products and services that are related to your business.

For example, if you’re a shoe retailer, you want to rank in the top spot of google.com.my when someone searches for “buy nike shoes”. Because your website is relevant to the user’s searched keyword, there is a strong chance for him/her to become your customer.

People also trust the organic/natural search results more than the sponsored ads that appear on the top-side and right-side of the search results, because they trust Google’s choice in ranking those results. In our study of four e-commerce clients with monthly transactions of over RM2 million, we found organic traffic to provide the best conversion rates.

Why Google is King?
There are three major search engines in the world – Google, Yahoo and Bing – Yahoo’s search results are now powered by Bing. Among the three, Google has the largest market share at more than 60% of the global searches. In countries like Malaysia, Google search engine market share is close to 90%.

Different search engines use different methods to rank their search results. Since Google has the biggest market share, almost every SEO campaign is designed to rank on Google.

How Does SEO Work?
Google claims to use over 200 signals to rank a website, however, the two main ones are:
a) Relevance – how relevant is the webpage to the searched word.
b) Trust – how trustworthy is the webpage.

Relevance is determined by the keywords on the webpage – in the title tag, meta description, headings, content, links, etc. There is no point in repeating the target keywords heavily on the webpage because Google uses semantics – it can understand related keywords as well.

Trust is based on backlinks, i.e. other websites linking to your website. There are many factors in calculating trust – Is the linking website high authority? How many outgoing backlinks are there on the website? Are the links nofollow? What is the anchortext used in the backlink? How high is the backlink on the linking page? Are there relevant text surrounding the backlink? Etc.

Since you own your website and therefore have full control of its content, Google doesn’t put too much value on on-page relevance. Many SEOs agree that the rankings of a website is based on 80% trust and 20% relevance.

Other than relevance and trust, other factors include the domain age, backlink age, page loading speed, site structure, keywords in the URLs, ALT TXT in images, sitemaps, internal linking, citations, social mentions and more.

Panda and Penguin
In the last two years, Google has been rolling out major updates to their algorithm – the most notable of which are the Panda and Penguin updates. Panda penalizes websites for low quality content.  On the other hand, Penguin penalizes websites for over-optimization. As a result, many websites in Malaysia have been slapped with penalties and fallen in rankings – which is why it is so important to choose the right SEO company to work with.