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Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization

S

earch engine optimization (SEO), the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a Web site by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user.


WebSites and Search Engines

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 for targeted keywords. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results or the higher it "ranks", the more searchers will visit that site. SEO can also target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As a marketing strategy for increasing a site's relevance, SEO considers how search algorithms work and what people search for. SEO efforts may involve a site's coding, presentation, and structure, as well as fixing problems that could prevent search engine indexing programs from fully spidering a site. Other, more noticeable efforts may include adding unique content to a site, ensuring that content is easily indexed by search engine robots, and making the site more appealing to users. Another class of techniques, known as black hat SEO or spam dexing, use methods such as link farms and keyword stuffing that tend to harm search engine user experience. Search engines look for sites that employ these techniques and may remove them from their indices.

The initialism "SEO" can also refer to "search Engine Optimizers" or "Search Engine Optimization", terms adopted by an industry of consultants who carry out optimization projects on behalf of clients, and by employees who perform SEO services in-house. Search engine optimizers may offer SEO as a stand-alone service or as a part of a broader marketing campaign. Because effective SEO may require changes to the HTML source code of a site, SEO tactics may be incorporated into web site development and design. The term "search engine friendly" may be used to describe web site designs, menus, content management systems, URLs, and shopping carts that are easy to optimize.

White hat versus black hat

SEO techniques are classified by some into two broad categories: techniques that search engines recommend as part of good design and those techniques that search engines do not approve of and attempt to minimize the effect of, referred to as spamdexing. Some industry commentators classify 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether. Such penalties can be applied either automatically by the search engines' algorithms, or by a manual site review.
  3. One infamous example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices. Both companies, however, quickly apologized, fixed the offending pages, and were restored to Google's list.

SEO Do's

Exclusive content:

Content should be exclusively written for each page of site. You definitely want to avoid repetitions, redundancy between your pages. Each texts and/or pictures have to be dedicated to one page, one theme. Which allows you to stay away from patterns used by spammers and get inevitably removed from any results list by search engines.

For example: creating several pages with the same or almost the same content in order to get multiple placements under a single phrase would be immediately associated to spam by search engine and kicked out of the list.

Relevancy of content

Content needs to maintain an overall relevancy throughout site and within pages. You need to be ranked but you need to be logically ranked under the topics of you want. In order to keep the precision and efficiency of your keywords and sentences, need to dedicate one topic per page. It would be really harmful for your ranking to skip to a totally unrelated subject in the same page. Take our website for example: we could not create a page talking about hosting and then switching on the same page to an ice cream maker. It would just get the spiders confused, not knowing where to list our site under.

Confusion is your enemy, clarity is the key. Your content needs to be topically organized under related theme. Do not hesitate to include relevant titles (avoid graphic titles see our knowledge center)

Always keep in mind that search engine are more and more elaborated, they are looking for quality as well as quantity and they need to find it easily and fast.

Updated content:

Your website needs to be "alive" in order to be noticed. A "good content" is for all search engines a content that informs and helps users. By definition good and useful information are always reviewed and up-to-date information. Therefore, changing, updating and/or adding information to your website regularly would instantly make your site gain credibility. It will obtain better placements and maintain its ranks easily because spiders will be attracted to it naturally. Treat the search engines like real users, they will come back to you if you make it worth it.

Have a site map page:

The sitemap is useful because it is only text links which are the best element of a "good content" because they are 100% text and also create a solid basis of inter-links throughout your site which increase your credibility automatically. You just provide the spiders with a direct route to all your pages from one point. Search engine needs easy way to get where they want and what they want in order to index each page fast and get them in the appropriate topic results pages.

The strategy of SEO Process

By 1997 search engines recognized that some webmasters were making efforts to rank well in their search engines, and even manipulating the page rankings in search results. Early search engines, such as Infoseek, adjusted their algorithms to prevent webmasters from manipulating rankings by stuffing pages with excessive or irrelevant keywords.

Due to the high marketing value of targeted search results, there is potential for an adversarial relationship between search engines and SEOs. In 2005, an annual conference, AIRWeb, Adversarial Information Retrieval on the Web, was created to discuss and minimize the damaging effects of aggressive web content providers.

  1. SEO companies that employ overly aggressive techniques can get their client websites banned from the search results. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal profiled a company, Traffic Power, which allegedly used high-risk techniques and failed to disclose those risks to its clients. Wired magazine reported that the same company sued blogger Aaron Wall for writing about the ban. Google's Matt Cutts later confirmed that Google did in fact ban Traffic Power and some of its clients.
  2. Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, chats, and seminars. In fact, with the advent of paid inclusion, some search engines now have a vested interest in the health of the optimization community. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with site optimization. Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website. Yahoo! Site Explorer provides a way for webmasters to submit URLs, determine how many pages are in the Yahoo! index and view link information.

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.

Preventing indexing

To avoid undesirable content in the search indexes, webmasters can instruct spiders not to crawl certain files or directories through the standard robots.txt file in the root directory of the domain. Additionally, a page can be explicitly excluded from a search engine's database by using a meta tag specific to robots. When a search engine visits a site, the robots.txt located in the root directory is the first file crawled. The robots.txt file is then parsed, and will instruct the robot as to which pages are not to be crawled. As a search engine crawler may keep a cached copy of this file, it may on occasion crawl pages a webmaster does not wish crawled. Pages typically prevented from being crawled include login specific pages such as shopping carts and user-specific content such as search results from internal searches. In March 2007, Google warned webmasters that they should prevent indexing of internal search results because those pages are considered search spam.

As a marketing strategy

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.

SEO may generate a return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. 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, "Search marketers, in a twist of irony, receive a very small share of their traffic from search engines." Instead, their main sources of traffic are links from other websites.