What Does Optimization Mean?
Optimization in today’s online business world simply refers to the process of making a website more efficient for search engines and users.
The definition of the word “optimize” has three distinct senses:
- to make optimal; get the most out of; or use best
- to modify in such a way to achieve maximum efficiency in capacity, time, or cost
- to act as an optimist and take a positive view of the world
For our purposes the first two senses pertain to the act of optimizing the website, while the last is the state in which the users, search engines, and ultimately the website owner will be upon completion of the process.
The optimization of a website for the search engines
When optimizing a website for search engines it is important to understand that no one factor will yield significant results. Instead it is important to become familiar with all the separate elements that need to be addressed when optimizing.
Optimization of a website can also be called SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This is a valuable term to remember as you search for additional tips on exactly how to optimize a website.
The top search engines in the world are Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft's Bing. It is crucial to get a website listed in these search engines because they are, for the most part, the place where most people begin their searches for information.
These search engines are looking for specific elements within each website they index. When discovering these elements they dispatch what is referred to as “spiders.” These “spiders” are simply programs designed to scour the website for text, titles, images, and links.
Some of the main things they are looking for include:
- Keyword frequency: This is the number of time the keywords or phrases that best describe the website are displayed.
- Tip: If you sign up for a free Google AdWords account you can use their keyword tool to find the most popular keywords for your website. Also, a good rule of thumb with keywords is to use phrases instead of single words and to only use those phrases in text about 5% of the time. Anymore and the “spiders” might see it as spamming.
- In addition to the frequency of keywords/key phrases in text they also look for them in page titles, descriptions, meta-tags, image alt-text, and within links.
- Outbound links within text that use keywords as well as inbound links from any outside websites.
- Fresh, relevant content being added on a regular basis.
The optimization of a website for the end user
After a website has been optimized for the search engines the next part of optimization that needs to take place is for the end user. For the most part this means making the website as user friendly as possible.
This process breaks down into a few categories:
- Uniqueness. What is it about this website that makes it standout from the competition? In business it is called finding the Unique Selling Position or USP and in an online presence it is the only thing that can separate another, “me too” website.
- Tip: Once the USP is found make it the focus throughout the entire website.
- Design. It is important that a website be easy to use, pleasing to the eye, and quick loading. It needs to be obvious by what it looks like as to what type of content it contains.
- Usability. The most important elements of the website to be found right away without having to scroll. If this isn’t the case and a buyer or reader has to hunt for what they have come for they will simply move on to the next website.
- Content. The reason someone clicks on to almost any website is find content that interests them. If it isn’t what they were looking for they will quickly move on. A website need to constantly be adding new, valuable content to not only satisfy the search engines but the hungry readers as well. This is the reason adding a blog to a website is so valuable.
The results of an optimized website for the owner
The process of optimization is a continuous one. Trends change, new products and services need to be added, and staying up on all these tasks are crucial. When one understands all it takes to optimize those additions, those changes aren’t huge undertakings.
In addition, when the owner of an optimized website begins to reap the rewards of being found in search engines those that find their website find it easy to use and that its content has value, it is only then that the website owner will find the true value of optimization.