A Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Typically, the earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific search engines.As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO companies like our Florida based marketing firm consider what people search for.
Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and HTML coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords or key phrases and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines to your website’s information. The acronym “SEO” can also refer to “search engine optimizers,” a term adopted by an industry of consultants who carry out optimization projects on behalf of clients.Search engine optimizers may offer SEO as a stand-alone service or as a part of a broader marketing campaign or web service. Because effective SEO may require changes to the HTML source code of a site, SEO tactics may be incorporated into website development and design. The term “search engine friendly” may be used to describe web site designs, menus, content management systems and shopping carts that are easy to optimize.
There may be different levels of SEO depending on the your objectives, budget or geographic saturation. Warning – Be careful of companies who discuss variations of what is known in the trade as Black hat SEO or Spamdexing. These methods depend on link farms and keyword stuffing that degrade both the relevance of search results and the user-experience of search engines. Search engines look for sites that employ these techniques in order to remove them from their indices. Many web design companies and SEO companies out-think themselves and get away from the basics with the idea they can manipulate the search engines into ranking their web pages higher than they warrant. Many times this backfires costing the client’s website permanent damage with regard to future rankings in the major search engines. There are several levels of SEO and marketing which include link building, Social Network Marketing, a syndicated Blog, Marketing to external websites etc.
A Work Of Art, Inc., (awoa.com) based in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs, Florida along with many other webmasters and content providers began optimizing sites for search engines in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were cataloging 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 web page, such as the words it contains and where these are located, as well as any weight for specific words, as well as any 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, or index files in engine. Meta tags provide a guide to each page’s content. But using meta data to index pages was found to be less than reliable because the webmaster’s choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site’s actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.
Web content providers also manipulated a number of attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.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, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters.
Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, allowing those results to be false would turn users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate.
Google headquarters Page and Brin founded Google in 1998. Google attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design. Off-page factors (such as PageRank and hyperlink analysis) were considered as well as on-page factors (such as keyword frequency, meta tags, headings, links and site structure) to enable Google to avoid the kind of manipulation seen in search engines that only considered on-page factors for their rankings. Although PageRank was more difficult to game, webmasters had already developed link building tools and schemes to influence the Inktomi search engine, and these methods proved similarly applicable to gaming PageRank. Many sites focused on exchanging, buying, and selling links, often on a massive scale. Some of these schemes, or link farms, involved the creation of thousands of sites for the sole purpose of link spamming.
In recent years major search engines have begun to rely more heavily on off-web factors such as the age, sex, location, and search history of people conducting searches in order to further refine results.By 2007, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. 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, notably Yahoo!, 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. Yahoo’s paid inclusion program has drawn criticism from advertisers and competitors.
Two major directories, the Yahoo Directory and the Open Directory Project both require manual submission and human editorial review. Google offers Google Webmaster Tools, for which an XML Sitemap feed can be created and submitted for free to ensure that all pages are found, especially pages that aren’t discoverable by automatically following links.Search engine crawlers may look at a number of different factors when crawling a site. Not every page is indexed by the search engines. Distance of pages from the root directory of a site may also be a factor in whether or not pages get crawled.
White hat versus black hat – SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engines recommend as part of good design, and those techniques of which search engines do not approve. The search engines attempt to minimize the effect of the latter, among them spamdexing. Some industry commentators have classified these methods, and the practitioners who employ them, as either white hat SEO, or black hat SEO. White hats tend to produce results that last a long time, whereas black hats anticipate that their sites may eventually be banned either temporarily or permanently once the search engines discover what they are doing. An SEO technique is considered white hat if it conforms to the search engines’ guidelines and involves no deception. As the search engine guidelines are not written as a series of rules or commandments, this is an important distinction to note.
White hat SEO is not just about following guidelines, but is about ensuring that the content a search engine indexes and subsequently ranks is the same content a user will see. White hat advice is generally summed up as creating content for users, not for search engines, and then making that content easily accessible to the spiders, rather than attempting to trick the algorithm from its intended purpose. White hat SEO is in many ways similar to web development that promotes accessibility, although the two are not identical.
Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception. One black hat technique uses text that is hidden, either as text colored similar to the background, in an invisible div, or positioned off screen. Another method gives a different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine, a technique known as cloaking.Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether.
Marketing strategies considered – 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. In addition, paid search results or “Pay Per Click” campaigns are certainly not the way to go for many business types for various reasons such as low profit margins, and low sales volume combined with popular key word associations.
SEO may generate a substantial return on investment.
However –search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of positioning, continued placement, referrals or revenue growth based on search results alone. 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.A top-ranked SEO blog Seomoz.org has reported, “Some search marketers, in a twist of irony, receive a small share of their traffic from search engines.” Instead, some of their main sources of traffic are links from popular websites within a company’s industry type. These can include free listings, articles, banners and other sources within a website that generate incoming traffic.- David Nagle – Creative Director, A Work Of Art, Inc. – AWOA.COM
Author - David Nagle