Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of taking a webpage built by human beings and preparing it for consumption by both human readers and search engine robots.
Search engines have four basic functions:
- Building and index
- Calculating relevancy and rankings
- Serving results
The World Wide Web is essentially a network of connected documents mainly consisting of web pages, but also including PDFs and images. Think of it as a giant spider’s web (hence the name), with each page connected by strands of webbing. Search engines need to “crawl” along each strand of the web so they can link to interconnected documents. This is effectively carried out by the use of hyperlinks.
Search engines are powered by “robots” or “spiders” that follow each hyperlink and take a snapshot or “index” of each of the documents and content that they contain. Once the engines have a copy of these pages they place a value on the page, based on specific key words.
To the search engines, relevance means more than simply having a page that prominently features the words that you typed into your search engine. In the early days of the web, search engines didn’t go much farther than this simplistic step, but the search results suffered as a consequence. Through iterative evolution, smarter search engines work to better find valuable results that searchers will appreciate and enjoy.
Each search engine works differently and closely guards its formula for deriving results. As an example, Google recently applied for a patent in which 119 different factors are considered in the algorithm for each page ranking.
Over the more than 12 years that modern web browsers have been online, search marketers have found ways to extract information about how search engines rank pages and use that data to help their clients improve their positioning. When a user types a query into a search engine, the engine compiles all matching websites and places them in order, according to preferential ranking. Getting placed on the first page, preferably within the first three results, for each of your important keywords is vital for driving traffic to your site.
Search engine traffic is vital to many consumer decisions. In a the survey “Role of Search in Buying Decisions” conducted by the California Yellow Pages group, 1500 business people were questioned about their purchasing decisions. Of those asked, 93.2% said they start their decision-making process with an online search, and of those, 95.5% said that they use a search engine to do so.
Search engine traffic is highly targeted. Potential buyers who find your site through search engines initiate a search for your products and services themselves, so they are already primed to hear your marketing message and ready to spend their dollars.