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Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results for targeted keywords. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results or the higher it “ranks”, the more searchers will visit that site.

As a marketing strategy for increasing a site’s relevance, SEO considers how search algorithms work and what people search for. SEO efforts may involve a site’s coding, presentation, and structure, as well as fixing problems that could prevent search engine indexing programs from fully spidering a site. Other, more noticeable efforts may include adding unique content to a site, ensuring that content is easily indexed by search engine robots, and making the site more appealing to users.

Webmasters and content providers began optimising sites for search engines in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were cataloguing the early Web. Initially, all a webmaster needed to do was submit a page, or URL, to the various engines which would send a spider to “crawl” that page, extract links to other pages from it, and return information found on the page to be indexed. The process involves a search engine spider downloading a page and storing it on the search engine’s own server, where a second program, known as an indexer, extracts various information about the page, such as the words it contains and where these are located, as well as any weight for specific words and all links the page contains, which are then placed into a scheduler for crawling at a later date.

Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag. Meta-tags provided a guide to each page’s content.

By relying so much on factors exclusively within a webmaster’s control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results.

Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate.

To reduce the impact of link schemes, as of 2007, search engines consider a wide range of undisclosed factors for their ranking algorithms. Google says it ranks sites using more than 200 different signals. The three leading search engines, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Live Search, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages.

Getting indexed
The leading search engines, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. Pages that are linked from other search engine indexed pages do not need to be submitted because they are found automatically. Some search engines operate a paid submission service that guarantee crawling for either a set fee or cost per click. Such programs usually guarantee inclusion in the database, but do not guarantee specific ranking within the search results.
Search engine crawlers may look at a number of different factors when crawling a site. Not every page is indexed by the search engines.

As a marketing strategy
Eye tracking studies have shown that searchers scan a search results page from top to bottom and left to right (for left-to-right languages), looking for a relevant result. Placement at or near the top of the rankings therefore increases the number of searchers who will visit a site. However, more search engine referrals does not guarantee more sales. SEO is not necessarily an appropriate strategy for every website, and other Internet marketing strategies can be much more effective, depending on the site operator’s goals. A successful Internet marketing campaign may drive organic traffic to web pages, but it also may involve the use of paid advertising on search engines and other pages, building high quality web pages to engage and persuade, addressing technical issues that may keep search engines from crawling and indexing those sites, setting up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure their successes, and improving a site’s conversion rate.

SEO may generate a return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies heavily on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors. It is considered wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic.

How to optimize the pages on a website for search engines.
A few guidelines which work consistently:

  • Content. The reason behind many of the changes made to bots that are indexing websites is to ensure that search results produce hyperlinks with real content related to the searched keywords. The more time and energy you spend on your website creating content, the more likely it is your website will receive a higher page ranking.
  • Keywords. It is important, when creating content, to use words which are specific to your business or product throughout your web pages. Don’t try to repeatedly use a specific set of keywords, but rather use alternate phrasing and synonyms to create more specialised content. If you simply start writing on your given subject it is likely that your keywords will appear naturally throughout your document.
  • Title. The website title should contain more information than just the Company name. In addition, you want the TITLE to each of your web pages to change throughout your website.
  • Backlinks. Backlinks are other websites that link to your website. Google takes into account how many other reputable websites are linking to your website when it produces search results. Start networking with other trusted sites in order to increase your Page Ranking.
  • Compare Your website to a competitor’s website with a higher page ranking.
  • Set up a Sitemap
  • Join affiliate programs. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and other search engines rank web pages higher that include advertising from their advertising networks. We recommend Google Ad Sense as a good starting point if you wish to use this option.

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