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What is SEO?

By: Andrew Carr - Updated: 21 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
What Is Seo?

"Search Engine Optimisation" is one of those terms which came about when the web was still growing and there became a need amongst competing sites to try and place their site in the first few on the list. Why is this necessary, as long as you get listed? Well, first of all in this rush rush rush world and the impatience of the majority of people looking for stuff on the Internet in the shortest possible time what is the fastest way to get there?

When a search is performed it has been proven that the first few sites in the list will probably gain the attention or make that sale of the item or service being requested. This happens if a site further down the line may offer the same service cheaper or offer more for the money.

If it's just information someone is after the same thing happens, in that as soon as someone has the information they require they may not necessarily look any further, despite the fact that the information further down the line may be more accurate or reliable. This is not usually true in the case of the serious researcher however, but it is usually the case that the first few sites are the ones most people will turn to when they need to.

The Purpose Of SEO

So, how do you get a site into the first few in the list? There are "tricks of the trade" involved when a site is "ranked" in the first few in a list. Whole books have been written around search engine optimisation (SEO) but we will look at some of the techniques used here.

The prime objectives for any site owner hoping to make a profit on the Internet should be to:

  • Increase presence on the web
  • Drive traffic to your site
  • Convert visitors into sales
SEO will enable the site owner to achieve this more easily. It requires an ongoing commitment, organizational skill, and enthusiasm to keep the SEO at the best it can be.

Initially, SEO takes time, in fact it can take the search engines up to two months before they even find your site. Therefore in the early stages you may want to publicise your site using traditional advertising, in newspapers, magazines etc.

Spiders, Crawlers And Incoming Links

In order for the search engine "spider" to find your site it needs to be indexed in the database. Another factor taken into consideration is the number of links known as "incoming links" pointing to your site. Therefore, the more links to your site you can posted on other sites, the better. Finally, you obviously need to create content, and add keywords to your site in the "metatags" of the site. These are usually placed at the top of each page of HTML. These are the fundamentals of SEO, but how you go about it will be discussed next.

All search engines operate on the same principals i.e. they crawl the whole web with software robots called spiders or crawlers. The robots then place information on the sites they find into their index. This index is what is searched when someone types a search phrase or keyword in a search box to find something on the web. However, the way a page is ranked with regard to the index is usually different for various search engines. For example, Google use a different method of ranking pages to Yahoo! However, the results may come out similar when searches take place.

Web Directories

Another method frequently used to obtain a profile on the web that has reasonable potential is to use web directories. Web directories do not use any special software to create an index and are actually built by hand. One of the best and largest is The Open Directory Project (ODP). This is a non-profit organisation staffed by thousands of volunteer editors who accept URL submissions for their areas of interest. The additional benefit posed by this is that Google will also search the directory and include entries into its own database, so you get the best of both worlds. Entries to the directory are not guaranteed, as it is up to the editor to filter out any web pages they do not like the look of, and negotiation with a particular editor is at best, slim.

However, as long as your site is useful and does not have anything controversial within then it most likely will be accepted to the directory. Once you have a presence on the web you need to know it may perform. You can check the number of visitors to your site via the Alexa Rankings site. This tells you how many people visit your site and produces a graph. You can also obtain software to measure the response to your site.

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