A Brief Description and Basics of SEO
There are a lot of things in the computer world that people tend to find mysterious and
they see as touching upon black magic. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of those
things that ranks way up there on the mystery and black magic scale. Today, the term has
expanded to Search Engine Marketing which includes paid advertising and other online
marketing activities but for our purposes we'll stick with SEO.
SEO is the practice of promoting a web site by increasing its position in search
results on the major search engines. Those search engines comprise of Google mainly but
also include Yahoo!, Bing, and a few others. The idea is to make the site appear higher in
the list of search results than similar sites. This is referred to as "organic" SEO
meaning that the rank came as a result of plain old search results rather than having to
pay for placement on the search engine.
There's a lot of value in getting it right as far as SEO goes. First of all it's free
and second of all, web searches are becoming the primary means of finding information.
Primary among the search engines is Google and according to some market research, Google
commanded an incredible 81.22 percent of the global market share in June 2009. Google's
success is punctuated by the fact that the word "Google" has found its way into the dictionary.
The primary goal of the search engines is to bring relevant search results to their
users. When a user types in a search phrase, a search engine is successful when it
delivers the information the user is searching for. If a search engine is unable to
deliver relevant information it simply won't be long on the digital scene.
Performing this feat is the result of a mix of highly sophisticated programming,
incredibly powerful servers, and perhaps some eye of newt and toe of frog thrown in for
Seriously, however, the full mechanics of how search engines rank web pages are kept
highly confidential. It simply has to be that way or the bad guys of the world would use
the knowledge to artificially inflate their own rankings.
There are some fundamental truths in SEO and it is fair to say that search engines
today consider the following when ranking a given web page:
• The content of the page - what it's about, what words are used prominently.
• What words are used in the title of the page?
• What words are used in the URL of the page?
• What words are highlighted on the page?
• What internal links (links from other pages on the same site) point to it?
• How many external links point to it and more importantly, whether those
pages are relevant to the page's subject matter?
• The text used to form the internal and external links.
• Even the age of the domain name plays a role in its ranking!
There is a lot more involved of course and that list could have gone on for a while.
Factors such as keywords, the use of images and Flash animations, and the design of the
site itself also play a role in a page's ranking.
Good SEO checklists can be found on the web but probably the most important thing to
think about doesn't involve search engines at all. That's the quality of the content.