Not surprisingly, the basis of SEO is the methodology of the search engines themselves. Search Engine Optimization exists as a way to create websites that are both accessible and favored by the search engines, while being useful and relevant for those visiting the site. Search engine marketers and SEO experts must remain up to date on any changes to what search engines like while designing sites, building links and creating content.
How Search Engines Work
Search Engines “crawl” websites, articles and other media then create an index with the information gathered. When a keyword query is placed (i.e. when something is searched for online), the search engine will access that information based on the relevancy to the searched terms and rank the results based on the value of the information in the index. The formula or rules to determine this “value” and consequent ranking is commonly referred to as the search engine algorithm.
Choosing Appropriate Keywords
The pages of results, or SERPs, are what SEOs are concerned about, but more accurately, the top results are what are most important. Most searchers will not look past the first page of search results, so a search engine optimizer’s job is to get their site ranked in the top 10. Choosing the right keywords to target is of utmost importance for SEO – it should be the basis of search engine optimization campaigns, web design and search engine marketing. Choosing the best keywords to target depends on the industry the website is part of and the competition present for the keywords searched for in that industry.
Site Design & Onsite Optimization
Good SEO starts onsite with web design. In order for a site to be indexed by search engines, they must be easy to navigate with a clear hierarchy to the links on the site. Websites benefit from pages that are designed with both keywords and user interface in mind. Websites that utilize frames, plug-ins, Flash and other elements that are not in html will not be accessible to search engine indexing and will see their rankings suffer.
Links = The Lifeblood of Search Engines.
Search Engines navigate websites via links, then index the content found there to help determine its value. This means that you not only need to have site structure that allows every page to be found via static links, but you also need external sites to link back to your site to give it authority in the Search Engine’s mind. It is important to remember, however, not all links are created equally. In Google, the higher quality, trustworthy and more authoritative sites have a higher Page Rank (PR). PR ranges from 0-10 (with 10 being the best); incoming links from high PR sites can improve search engine rankings because highly authoritative/trustworthy sites tend to link to each other.
Content is King!
Building quality content, both onsite and offsite, is a major key to search engine successes. Designing a site with excellent content allows for a better user experience, and creating unique, useful and interesting articles, press releases, and blog posts encourages readers to link back to your website, naturally. Best of all, building quality content is one of the methods Google, Yahoo and Bing actually encourage to improve rankings.