Search Engine Optimization – The Basics

Search Engine OptimisationSo just what is Search Engine Optimization? I am often asked by my friends to explain it. My friends also use seem to use the terms AdWords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) interchangeably. The first thing I clarify is that AdWords is not SEO! I feel that AdWords is more appropriately called Search Engine Marketing (SEM). I’ll post on this later, today I’m focussing on SEO.

One of the articles I read recently, defined Search engine optimization as the art and science of making web pages attractive to internet search engines. This is true however, I go further to say that SEO is art of creating webpages that rank highly (preferably within the top 3, at least in the top 10) in a natural search. To do this, it is necessary to understand how a site is indexed by Search Engines. You also need to realize that the “rules” around indexing is changing constantly and you will need to keep up with this.

Whilst the constant rule changes are frustrating, I take the view that ultimately the Search Engines are just trying to deliver high quality results to their user base, and therefore, it is better for us.

SEO has evolved a lot. In the middle of the 1990s webmasters and search engine content providers started optimizing websites and all they had to do was provide a URL to a search engine and a web crawler would be sent from the search engine. The web crawler would extract link from the webpage and use the information to index the page by down loading the page and then storing it on the search engines server. Once the page was stored on the search engines server a second program, called an indexer, extracted additional information from the webpage, and determines the weight of specific words. When this was complete the page was ranked.

Now, it’s not so simple. Some providers try to mislead the search engines to get their sites to rank highly in natural searches for unrelated keywords and the like. Search engine providers have had to get more sophisticated in reviewing pages to determine how they rank in the results.

Whilst Search Engine providers won’t publicize the exact algorithms they use to rank pages however, it is generally understood that the signals that typically used are; keywords in the title, link popularity, keywords in links pointing to the page, PageRank (Google), Keywords that appear in the visible text, links from on page to the inner pages, and placing punch line at the top of the page.

Now understanding all of that, it should be a little easier to understand how the indexing process works and your site can be optimized.

A site is indexed by a “Spider”. The “Spider” essentially reads the text on your webpage from top to bottom. This is one reason why using a high graphic, low text page is not recommended. To try to visualize how your site is “Spidered”, open up a browser and have a look at how the page displays.

  • At the very top of the Browser window, near the browser logo, the Title of the page should be displayed. The Spider reads this text.
  • As the Spider reads down the page, it should then reach the URL bar and it reads the web address of the page.
  • The Spider then reaches the text of the page. Text that is highlighted on the page in Heading tags, bold or strong tags, italics etc is given more attention.
  • In places where graphics appear, the Spider will only see a blank space. That’s why ALT tags are so important.

Given that the Spider reads the site, it is extremely important to use the appropriate keywords / keyphrases in the right way on your page. This then makes Keyword selection paramount to great search engine rankings. Take time to define your niche segment and research extensively the keywords that appropriate to that segment. Google provides a great keyword selection tool that also looks at synonyms, whilst providing comparisons on the number of competitors and searches conducted for each word.

You can conduct your keyword research manually, or you can automate the process. I have done several projects where the keywords I have researched the keywords manually. After doing so, I recommend automating the process. Have a look at Keyword Elite and SEO Elite which has been developed by Brad Callen to simplify the process.

I’ve recently launched a SEO site, which provides more information on SEO. Visit the site and grab the free SEO package I’ve put together – three free EBooks:

Search Engine Optimization Made Easy;
Keyword Elite Case Study;
Google Adwords Made Easy.

Visit to get your free EBooks.

Next time, I’ll discuss Blogging and use of Social Networking sites to raise your search engine rankings.

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5 Responses to “Search Engine Optimization – The Basics”

  1. I saw you visited my blog and in return to took a look at your blog. Great Content. Especially like you seo post. It was enjoyable and educational. Keep up the good work.

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