This article is not intended to be a definitive work on search engine optimization, particularly as many search engines keep changing the rules. It, and previous articles are intended, however to give the internet marketing beginner some insight into the subject.
Search engine optimization is not magic, and it does tend to incorporate a few basic tenets. When followed, these steps, methods, or actions CAN increase the visibility and ranking of a website in a search engine’s returns. It is popularly, and fairly accurately, stated that most people will pick a site from those listed on the first page of a search’s results. However, that is not the final spot that everyone picks from, nor is every site in exact competition with yours nor attractive to search engines for the same reasons, or keywords, or content as yours.
In most cases, when someone requests a search on a word or phrase, one of the first acts of many search engines will be to take a look at the titles of the websites it has indexed and see if anything seems to match. It will then scan the first few lines of text on the page to see if that search term is there, and how often it appears. It cannot be stated that every search engine follows this exact pattern, and, even if they do, most tend to then refine the initial results by viewing other data.
In fact, one reason that search engine optimization IS more an art than a science is due to the variables looked at by each search engine and how they are weighted by that site. It is possible to optimize a site for one search engine and injure its ranking in another!One way that many search engines can be induced to raise the ranking or placement of a site is accomplished thru linking. When speaking of “linking” most people are going to be speaking of external links leading to the site from other websites. I am going to include some internal linking discussion, so we will be covering:
1. External Links
2. Internal Links
LINKS FROM OTHER SITES:
As in many other considerations, the quality of the links leading to your site may be of more importance than the quantity of links. It should also be a consideration that sites that you try to have link to your site be relevant as a willy-nilly bundle of sites can actually lower your ranking in some search engines.
One linking tactic is to find the front runners in searches on keywords and subjects relevant to your site. Then, you would communicate with the site owners or webmasters in hopes of getting them to link to your site. In some cases, a reciprocal link may be requested, but, despite some accounts to the negative, having a link from a valuable site will increase the value of your site, even with the reciprocal link.
Why would someone link to YOUR site? Hopefully, your site is relevant and of a quality that would encourage the attentions of a webmaster hoping to elevate the value of his or her site by providing quality information to their visitors. If you are a fishing guide, the website of a rod and reel manufacturer may want to include a link to your site, for example.
To take this a step further, if the first sites you see are valuable, take a look at the sites that link to them! It is a good chance that THEY help contribute to the rank of the first sites you saw, and would therefore possibly be of importance to you.
LINKS WITHIN YOUR SITE:
While not normally included in discussions of search engine optimization, the internal links of your site can be of importance. Once you have a visitor to your site, providing them with an easy means of navigation can encourage them to stay and wander around. All the search engine optimization in the world won’t do much good if they leave and go elsewhere after reading one or two sentences.
However, internal linking can be an important part of search engine optimization, particularly when you realize that Google and some other search engines treat each page of your site separately. There seems to be some indication that links from other pages within your site can be used as part of the evaluation process of the search engine. Additionally, providing a complete listing of site pages in a logical manner makes it easier for search engine spiders to find, crawl, and index all the pages of your site. This thought brings us to…
In its simplest form, a sitemap is a logically (thank you Mr. Spock) designed, er well…map…of the pages of the site. It is usually a page in itself, provides links to, and sometimes descriptions or titles of, the pages within the site. Once the search engine has found this page, it is a piece of cake for it to crawl and index every page on your site. If you have been doing SEO to all your pages, you have just raised an eyebrow or two on the search engine spider.
In all I have learned or encountered in the areas of search engines and search engine optimization, two points seem to come through: make sure everything you do adds quality and value to your site, and don’t count on what worked yesterday to work today. Search engines are continually evolving to meet the needs of THEIR customers while providing quality service and they expect the same from you.