Welcome to SEO Part 1 by 1st on the List Promotions Inc.
This is not a "how to" video, instead, the purpose of this video presentation is two-fold and both are important to your online success.
First, we want to shed some light on how the search engines operate.
Secondly, we want to give you a good overview of what Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) actually is.
Fifteen minutes from now you'll be able to look at Search Engines differently and recognize this one simple, yet unavoidable truth.
In order to satisfy the Search Engines through SEO... you need to know;
- What the search engines want
- How to give the search engines what they want
- And how search engines work
At any time you can skip to a different section in this presentation by clicking on the links.
So let's get started. ...view moreclose window
TABLE OF CONTENTS – SEO Part 1
- Search Engines and Search Engine Optimization
- What Do People Use Search Engines For?
- How Do Search Engines Work?
- Along Came a Spider - Spiders and Web Robots
- What is Indexing?
- What is Search Engine Optimization?
- Your Website's Key Players
- Player #1 - Website Designers
- Player #2 - Web Hosting Companies
- Player #3 – SEO Companies
- What Are Algorithms?
- What is PageRank?
- What Are The Search Engine Rules?
- Can We By-Pass the Rules?
- What Do SEO Professionals Do?
- SEO Stage 1 – Site & Server Analysis
- SEO Stage 2 – Competitor Analysis & Keyword Selection
- SEO Stage 3 – Developing Relevant Content & Link Juice
- SEO Stage 4 – Website Analytics
- SEO Stage 5 – Ongoing Optimization
Most of us who have a website know one thing for sure. We want others to find and visit our website.
If you could address the search engines directly you'd probably ask;
"How can I get my web pages to show up at the top of the search engine listings?
This objective prompts many of us to look further into this thing called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Even though we may not know exactly what SEO is or how it works, we do understand the necessity for SEO and that SEO is really just a form of advertising for websites... and all businesses need advertising in order to reach their customers.
What is certain is that the vast majority of us do NOT know... and perhaps don't really care about HOW SEARCH ENGINES WORK.
Why should we care? Why should we WANT to know how search engines work? Is that really necessary?
Well... the answer is yes... it is absolutely necessary.
We now live in a global community.
Only a couple short decades ago, business was done locally and if you wanted to find a business you searched the yellow pages; if you wanted information, you visited the local library.
Today, information access is instant via the internet.
From cell phones, i-phones and laptops to cafes, airport terminals and yes...even library Internet access...you can find products, information or services whenever you want...and conduct business just as easily.
In July 2008, advertising research and consulting firm Borrell Associates estimated that the Yellow Pages industry will lose nearly 40% in revenue within five years.
Annual revenue for print advertising is also expected to drop by nearly 40%.
Why? ... Because smaller businesses are focusing more on online advertising.
On top of that...our consumer mindset has shifted as well.
Consumers generally research online first, before buying.
As one small business owner stated, "Even as a consumer I just don't do business with someone if I can't find their contact information through Google."
Are people able to find your business on the Internet?
And what "key words" are they typing into the search engines to find you?
A website consists of web pages found online through the Internet that offer information, products or services.
People or "searchers" use Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find these "web pages" by conducting a search using "key phrases" or "keywords".
Search engines like Google act like giant virtual libraries. Google has billons of "web pages" indexed (that is to say...in their database).
However, instead of you having to file through... as Carl Sagan would say, "millions and millions" of pages, you simply type in your "key words" or search query.
It is the search engine's job to sort through its vast library of "web pages" and return a prioritized list of what it deems to be the most relevant information, whether it's web pages, images, PDF files, video files, or whatever.
But how do they do that?
Historically speaking, search engines and the Internet in general are relatively young, still in their teens, you might say.
Yahoo celebrates its 19th birthday on Dec 20th 2009 and Google turns 11 in September of 2009.
Early search engines only searched file names and could not analyze content. Because of their limited search capabilities they soon earned such dubious nicknames as "Archie, Jughead and Veronica."
Then in 1993, Mathew Gray from MIT created the first web crawler, a little tool called a "web robot" or "Internet Bot".
This ‘web spider' as it soon became known, meandered from site to site on the "world wide web" to generate an index (or database) of all the information it found.
Eventually, "web spiders" would be programmed to perform specific automated tasks and the search engines, like Google, started using their own "web spiders" (like GoogleBot), to build their own proprietary indexes or databases.
In Google's case, GoogleBot visits, analyzes, reviews and indexes all the web pages it can find using a pre-determined set of criteria called an algorithm... but let's get to algorithms a little later.
First, let's look at indexing. What does it mean to have the search engines "index" your site?
It simply means that your site, or web pages, were indeed found and included in the search engine database such as Google, Yahoo or MSN.
Every time a "web spider" (Googlebot for instance) crawls your website, it takes a snapshot of your website content and places that content in their database... it indexes your web pages.
Since Google now has your web page indexed it takes only milliseconds for Google to match your web page up to a search query and display your web page in its search results.
"Okay," you ask, "So why should I care about spiders or bots or whatever? Why do I need to know this stuff?"
Well, let's answer that question with a question?
Have you ever had to ask, "Why can't I find my web pages in the search engines?"
Perhaps you have a hundred web pages on your site but can only find a few of them or none of them!
If so, then the most likely answer is because the "web spider" (GoogleBot, in Google's case) could not find or access your web pages properly in order to index them or perhaps there is not enough concise content to determine what you have to offer.
It's simple; if you want your pages to be indexed (included in the search engine database) then you must give the search engine spiders what they need.
And that's where SEO comes in.
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is simply the art, science and craft of giving the search engines what they want and need.
SEO can also be considered as search engine reputation management.
You want your website to develop a good reputation within the search engines for being highly relevant on a particular topic or for a particular product.
Unless the search engines see the relevance of your website to a search query, they have no reason to show your website to the searchers.
SEO helps you fine tune your web pages so that they conform to the rules or "factors" of search engine algorithms so that when the search engine crawlers (or web spiders) find your web pages, they can access and index your pages properly.
Let's take a moment to look at who the other key players are that determine your website's success.
Player #1 - Professional Website Designers – Early web designers initially started out creating "eye candy"; good looking websites with nifty graphics and flash images but not usually a lot of text.
These types of websites are difficult to rank. Why? Because the search engines "can only read text" and if there's very little or no text, then the search engines can't tell what your web pages are about.
In other words, they can't see the relevance of your page to a search query.
The other major faux pas of inexperienced web designers and designers who ignore the needs of the search engines is in coding a page (the source code).
If the coding on your web page is done poorly, it may prevent the search engines from accessing your pages easily.
Player #2 - Web Hosting Companies - They host your website and provide email service. Your web pages must reside somewhere and it's the web host's job to make sure that your website files are properly set up on their server so that, when called upon, they will display properly on the Internet.
Server set up and web hosting can be major areas of concern that will prevent your pages from being indexed properly, but we'll get more into that later.
Player #3 – SEO Companies - The final key player in your website's success is your Professional Search Engine Optimization company...the quality control people.
If they were part of government, SEO professionals would be like government inspectors, ensuring that your web pages meet the criteria and pass "search engine regulations" before they are unleashed to the public.
Remember our definition of SEO...the art, science and craft of giving the search engines what they want and what they need.
SEO professionals do much more than just find out what is wrong with your web pages. They also have the knowledge and the tools to fix your web page problems.
They know from experience what works and what doesn't and they continually tweak and improve your web pages to improve your search engine listings and conversions.
Perhaps the single, most important job of SEO professionals is making sure your web pages meet the constantly shifting standards of the search engines, which, incidentally, brings us back to algorithms.
According to Wikipedia:
"In mathematics, computing, linguistics, and related subjects, an algorithm is a finite sequence of instructions, an explicit, step-by-step procedure for solving a problem, often used for calculation and data processing."
In other words, algorithms are a precise set of rules or "factors" that specify how to solve a problem.
When you make a query on Google, Google's problem is how to list the most important, relevant and reliable pages first.
In order to do that, Google's algorithm uses over 200 factors or "signals" (as Google calls it), among them; keyword usage, domain strength, user data, content quality, and so on.
This enables the search engines to determine what the ranking order should be for any web page they have indexed in their database that contains the words the searchers are searching for.
Without algorithms, the search results would be random and mostly chaotic and useless.
When Googlebot crawls your site, within milliseconds it evaluates your page content, coding, links, images and all other information and rates your page according to its algorithm criteria.
One of the most well known components of Google's algorithm is its patented PageRank™
What is PageRank?
PageRank™ uses link analysis to determine your web page's value by measuring the link structure and applying a numerical value from 1 to 10.
Each link from another website or web page is considered a vote.
Votes cast by web pages that are themselves "important" (or have a high page rank) weigh more heavily and help to make your web page more "important" thus, your page earns a higher Page Rank.
By the way, the PageRank Shown on the Google Toolbar is inaccurate and there for entertainment purposes only and is not a true representation of how well your pages may rank.
Google's real PageRank is a highly guarded secret and only Google knows for sure what that is.
So, what are Google's search engine rules exactly?
Well, outside of Google, no one knows for sure.
According to Google spokesman Matt Cutts, top SEO companies do occasionally get insight into some of the rules through industry trade journals, conferences and from Google itself, however Google's algorithm rules are deemed to be "classified" information.
Oh yes, and the rules by the way, they are constantly changing.
It is estimated that search engine algorithms undergo 300 – 400 changes per year!
All the search engines make regular updates to their algorithms. In essence, they keep changing the factors or weight of each factor.
So, how can we as website owners, abide by the rules if we don't know what the rules or factors are?
The answer lies in understanding the actual "theory" behind search engine algorithms and their "factors".
Whenever algorithm updates occur, website owners will notice a lot of shuffling in their listing results, which can be understandably, very frustrating.
While it may be outside the scope of individual website owners, it is the job of SEO professionals to find out how the rules have changed.
SEO professionals are constantly sharing and testing strategies through industry newsletters, articles, blog posts forums and training.
It is this universal approach that helps SEOs to quickly formulate relatively accurate theories behind algorithm shifts and search engine rule (or factor) changes.
Is there a way of by-passing search engine rules?
The answer is yes...and no.
There are two kinds of SEO...Black Hat and White Hat.
Black Hat SEO uses questionable and negative techniques to try and fool or trick the search engines and since the results are temporary and damaging to your site's reputation, Black Hat SEO is not recommended.
White Hat SEO (also known as "Organic SEO) is, as we have said, "reputation management". It endeavours to understand and adhere to the search engine rules in order to improve your web pages and essentially give the search engines what they want and need.
Organic SEO improves your web page performance, improves your site and server set up and improves your link popularity.
Organic SEO also has longevity and helps build and sustain your website's reputation.
Okay. So we've covered the basics of how search engines work and what the rules are...and as we know, the rules are always changing.
Now let's talk about Search Engine Optimization.
Exactly what do Search Engine Optimizers (or SEOs) do?
Let's look at the five key stages of SEO, which are:
- Site & Server Analysis
- Competitor Analysis and Keyword Selection
- Developing unique content to support your targeted keyword phrases
- Website Analytics
- Ongoing Search Engine Optimization
Remember that we said SEO is simply the art, science and craft of giving the search engines what they want and need so they know what you offer.
The SEO professional has made a career out of figuring out what the search engines want. But because the search engines constantly revise what they want, the SEO professional must adapt to the constantly changing factors.
A case in point...a few years ago website owners discovered that the search engines favored websites that linked to each other...called "reciprocal linking."
That's what the search engines liked and wanted...so that's what everyone started giving them.
Then the search engines soon learned that reciprocal linking was circumventing that actual purpose of evaluating links so they changed the rules so that "reciprocal linking" was now considered "bad".
Instead, search engines like Google, wanted high quality in-bound links and used these criteria to determine PageRank, which is something we discussed earlier.
So let's cover the five key stages of search engine optimization.
Do you remember the other key players that determine your website's success?
They were your Website Designer and Web Hosting Company.
Just as there are good web designers and "not so good" web designers, there are also good web hosting companies and "not so good" web hosting companies.
You cannot build a house without a good solid foundation.
In order to determine if your website will pass "search engine regulations" as outlined in the guidelines section of every search engine, the SEO professional will first look at what your web designer and hosting company has done.
The first stage of Search Engine Optimization then is the "Site & Server Analysis."
Remember, search engine spiders not only need to find your web pages but they must be able to access the information they need easily and quickly.
During a site and server analysis the SEO professional is looking to see if your site is set up and hosted properly.
They look for a virtual or dedicated IP address, slow loading pages, poor coding, broken links, duplicate content issues, PageRank leakage, improper 302's and multiple domains plus a host of other criteria that is well beyond the scope of this short video.
Suffice it to say that this is a crucial stage, necessary to uncover and correct any back-end problem areas that may be blocking the search engine spiders and preventing them from accessing and indexing your web pages properly.
In sports, business and in all areas of life, in order to beat out your competition you must know what they have done to achieve the success that you want.
If your competitors have top rankings in the search engine listing results then they must be doing something right.
SEO professionals will conduct a thorough analysis to see what your competitors are doing both organically and through PPC advertising (if they are using it).
That information is then utilized to conduct in-depth keyword research using a number of professional keyword research tools.
Keyword selection is then narrowed down to the most appropriate, most relevant keyword terms that searchers are using to find your products or services.
It all comes back to that question we asked earlier, "What "words" or phrases are people typing into the search engines to find you?"
Earlier in this video we mentioned that the search engines can "only read text"?
It's one thing to discover what "keyword phrases" searchers are using to find your products and services but if those keyword phrases do not appear in your web pages, there is simply no way of getting them to rank in the organic search results.
The keyword terms you want to rank for must be supported by your page content.
This is a very important rule...and worth repeating.
The keyword terms you want to rank for must be supported by your page content.
In some cases it's preferable for SEOs to optimize your existing web page content, especially on some of your more important pages.
In the majority of cases however, it becomes necessary to create new, optimized SEO pages to create unique content in support of your targeted keyword phrases.
Remember the "eye candy" websites we discussed earlier... good looking websites such as e-commerce websites that have a lot of nifty graphics and flash images but generally little or no text content?
SEO professionals can still partially optimize these websites by including targeted keyword phrases in the page's Meta data, page header, text links and image alt tags.
However, if you hope to have your web pages listed well with the search engines they must also have unique text content that supports your targeted keyword phrases.
Internal link structure is another area that must be addressed when developing content to support your keyword phrases.
The search engines look for how well your web pages are linked internally so that your web pages support each other appropriately.
SEO professionals will incorporate into your web pages a logical and well developed internal link structure in order to control link juice flow.
Other link building services available to support your targeted keyword phrases may include developing optimized Titles and Descriptions for link text, plus directory registrations, social bookmarking, social networking and optimized press release services.
Website analytics or "web analytics" has become an integral part of SEO.
Wikipedia describes "web analytics" as, "The measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage."
In other words, utilizing your website statistics to determine online behavior in order to improve it.
Web analytics programs such as Google Analytics, allow us to use the raw data that our websites generate to understand visitor behavior.
Analytics tell us who our visitors are, where they came from, what search terms did they use, what landing pages they came in on and what other pages they visited plus how long they stayed and what pages prompted conversions.
Website analytics reveal the strengths and weaknesses of our web pages and give us the ability to set goals, then test and measure results to improve conversions and ultimately improve return on investment.
Web Analytics is quickly becoming the standard to determine how a website is doing and for making good decisions on what needs to be done next to improve the results.
It's not unusual to see our web pages fluctuate daily in the search engine listing results.
After all, the search engines are constantly finding, evaluating and adding new pages, as well as dropping old stale pages from their index.
However, every business owner understands that it is much easier and requires fewer resources to maintain existing clients than it is to regain lost customers or find new ones.
The same is true for top search engine listings.
SEO is not over once your site has been optimized and your pages have attained top search engine listings you want.
We mentioned earlier that Google's algorithm includes over 200 factors and since the search engines make regular updates to their algorithms, the rules are constantly changing.
Ongoing search engine optimization is necessary to ensure that our web pages stay current with the times, are constantly improved upon and to address any significant drops in page rankings.
Thank you for joining us.
We hope this video presentation has given you a good overview of How Search Engines Work, How SEO Works and How Important Both Are to Your Online Success.
Produced by: Anthony Lepki
Written by: Tony Hutchcroft - Search Engine Optimization Consultant
1st on the List Promotion Inc,
© 2009 1st on the List Promotion Inc