Whenever you enter a query in a search engine and hit ‘enter’ you get a list of web results that contain that query term. Users normally tend to visit websites that are at the top of this list as they perceive those to be more relevant to the query. If you have ever wondered why some of these websites rank better than the others then you must know that it is because of a powerful web marketing technique called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).SEO is a technique which helps search engines find and rank your site higher than the millions of other sites in response to a search query. SEO thus helps you get traffic from search engines.This SEO tutorial covers all the necessary information you need to know about Search Engine Optimization – what is it, how does it work and differences in the ranking criteria of major search engines.
Most Important Seo Tips:
SEO is vitally important … so let’s have a brief lesson in SEO (search engine optimization).
To determine what your site is about (and the individual pages on your site), search engines use four main indicators:
1- The Text on your Site
For example, the text in your titles, the headings, the other readable text on your page, the image names, the alternative bits of text for your images, and so on.
Incidentally, this also includes your domain name, and it’s very important to have a domain that reflects the main keyword you want to rank well for, or at the very least is semantically related to it.
2. The Internal Links on your Site
So if Page A on your site links to Page B with the text ‘Fishing boats’, it tells the search engines that Page B is about ‘Fishing boats’.
Similarly, if you have a link with the text ‘Home’ pointing to your home page, it doesn’t tell the search engines anything about what your site is about – non-descriptive links are a big wasted opportunity.
(HINT: If that’s you, change the text of your links so they help the search engines understand what your site is about!)
3. The Links from your Site to other Sites
Linking to other relevant sites in your niche actually boosts your SEO, as it helps solidify your site as about something specific and the links increase the value you offer to visitors.
Conversely if you link to irrelevant sites, it distracts from your main focus and can negatively affect your ranking.
This is the important bit … links from other sites to your site, known as ‘backlinks’.
The opinion of other sites as to what your site is about, indicated by the text used in the link, is vitally important in the SEO game, and has a lot of authority for the search engines, as it’s less under the direct control of the site owner themselves, and so less subject to artificial manipulation.
The first basic truth you need to know to learn SEO is that search engines are not humans. While this might be obvious for everybody, the differences between how humans and search engines view web pages aren’t. Unlike humans, search engines are text-driven. Although technology advances rapidly, search engines are far from intelligent creatures that can feel the beauty of a cool design or enjoy the sounds and movement in movies. Instead, search engines crawl the Web, looking at particular site items (mainly text) to get an idea what a site is about. This brief explanation is not the most precise because as we will see next, search engines perform several activities in order to deliver search results – crawling, indexing, processing, calculating relevancy, and retrieving.
First, search engines crawl the Web to see what is there. This task is performed by a piece of software, called a crawler or a spider (or Googlebot, as is the case with Google). Spiders follow links from one page to another and index everything they find on their way. Having in mind the number of pages on the Web (over 20 billion), it is impossible for a spider to visit a site daily just to see if a new page has appeared or if an existing page has been modified, sometimes crawlers may not end up visiting your site for a month or two.
After a page is crawled, the next step is to index its content. The indexed page is stored in a giant database, from where it can later be retrieved. Essentially, the process of indexing is identifying the words and expressions that best describe the page and assigning the page to particular keywords. For a human it will not be possible to process such amounts of information but generally search engines deal just fine with this task. Sometimes they might not get the meaning of a page right but if you help them by optimizing it, it will be easier for them to classify your pages correctly and for you – to get higher rankings.
When a search request comes, the search engine processes it – i.e. it compares the search string in the search request with the indexed pages in the database. Since it is likely that more than one page (practically it is millions of pages) contains the search string, the search engine starts calculating the relevancy of each of the pages in its index with the search string.
There are various algorithms to calculate relevancy. Each of these algorithms has different relative weights for common factors like keyword density, links, or metatags. That is why different search engines give different search results pages for the same search string. What is more, it is a known fact that all major search engines, like Yahoo!, Google, Bing, etc. periodically change their algorithms and if you want to keep at the top, you also need to adapt your pages to the latest changes. This is one reason (the other is your competitors) to devote permanent efforts to SEO, if you’d like to be at the top.
The last step in search engines’ activity is retrieving the results. Basically, it is nothing more than simply displaying them in the browser – i.e. the endless pages of search results that are sorted from the most relevant to the least relevant sites.
2. Differences Between the Major Search Engines
Although the basic principle of operation of all search engines is the same, the minor differences between them lead to major changes in results relevancy. For different search engines different factors are important. There were times, when SEO experts joked that the algorithms of Bing are intentionally made just the opposite of those of Google. While this might have a grain of truth, it is a matter a fact that the major search engines like different stuff and if you plan to conquer more than one of them, you need to optimize carefully.
There are many examples of the differences between search engines. For instance, for Yahoo! and Bing, on-page keyword factors are of primary importance, while for Google links are very, very important. Also, for Google sites are like wine – the older, the better, while Yahoo! generally has no expressed preference towards sites and domains with tradition (i.e. older ones). Thus you might need more time till your site gets mature to be admitted to the top in Google, than in Yahoo!.