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What is SEO - Search Engine Optimization?

By Edited Nov 27, 2015 1 1


SEO. It is one of the biggest terms in use on the Internet today. But what does it mean? It is an abbreviation for "Search Engine Optimization", a process web masters use to increase the chance that their site will be successful.

Back when the Internet started, it was much smaller, of course. It quickly grew to millions of web sites, and beyond. In the beginning, it was fairly easy for people to find information themselves. As time went on, people became overwhelmed by the amount of information available online. Search engines were devised as helpful tools.

With a search engine, anyone could wade through many web sites, arriving at the ones that were more appropriate for their needs. This is best explained with an example. Perhaps you are searching for something about "Dog". There are many, many web pages that describe dogs. If that is your quest, you will likely have to explore a lot of pages before you find what you want.

To find what you want, you search an index of potentially relevant sites. Your search term, "Dog", is called your keyword. As you can imagine, there are a lot of pages that reference the term. Some are highly focused. These may be relevant. Others are less focused. For example, "Dog days" would match your keyword but is not likely what you want.

People have realized that to have their sites rank better on searches, they must provide clear indications of the topic. Pages have been written to highlight various keywords that apply. In fact, a whole branch of technology has been established to make pages perform better for searching purposes. This is, of course, search engine optimization, or SEO.

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To do it well, web masters ensure that their on page content is completely relevant to a given topic. Using text, images, video, and more, types of content, they establish a clear connection to "Dogs". The idea is to be very useful to viewers, and to make sure that the searching tools are aware of this fact.

The index is a list of keywords with their web addresses. The search tools scour the Internet in order to build indexes of all the terms that people might use to search for information. These can be made of a single word, a pair, or many more. In fact, longer terms are often highly successful for SEO purposes.

Studying the term "Dog", it becomes clear that the topic area is extremely large. Any page in an index for this word would be highly unlikely to be relevant for an information quest. "Dog collar" would narrow the field considerably. "Where to buy" would narrow the field even more. While there would be a lot fewer people looking for these five words, when they found relevancy, they would likely be very happy with the site.

The process of ensuring better index placement has changed a lot over the years. In the beginning, people realized that they just had to repeat keywords many times in their pages. By doing so ten, twenty, or more, times, the indexes began to believe that the sites that used the keywords the most were best for people looking for information. In same cases, this was true. In many cases, the web pages were very junky.

Search indexes

Search indexes began to place more importance on other factors, besides the frequency of word placement. Popularity was deemed to be important, as measured by links from one page to another. It was theorized that a good web page would only reference other good web pages. Therefore a link from one to another caused both pages to be better ranked. To capitalize on this behavior, web designers set up a great many links to pages.

Soon search tools began to realize that linking was being used to monopolize the results. Links were suddenly reduced in importance again. As well, certain web sites that seemed to link to a lot of other sites were given a penalty, an arbitrary reduction in rank.

The situation today is quite interesting. To rank well in search results, the optimization is still important. Many of the older techniques, however, should not be used. Stuffing a lot of words onto a page is now bad practice. Linking many pages to one page is a bad idea as well. Using poorly ranked sites is also bad.

The best approach is to provide better quality content on a page. This should be text that is clearly written and which pertains to the topic at hand. The phrasing should be natural. It should be of a quality that would be produced by a native English speaker. In fact, web page content is often of better quality than that which would be spoken in regular conversation. Obviously if a person has a lessor grip on the English language, they should use very talented people to edit text before publication.

An unintended side effect of index changes has been the penalizing of sites based on the actions of unrelated people. Since excessive linking of pages was ruled bad, some people decided to use the penalty for their own purposes. Now instead of linking to their own content, they would link many, many pages to competing web sites. This action would be flagged as poor by the search index. As a result, the page receiving the links would be penalized. This, of course, tended to improve the rank of unrelated pages. More effort is obviously needed to bring fairness to the indexing structure.

Publishing good quality content is very important, perhaps more than ever. The wording, and phrasing, should be natural, and there should be a clear message for each page. Most sites will also highlight a topic, but general page content is completely acceptable as well. Use related words in order to avoid too much repetition of topic keywords. Provide links to social media sites, but do not fabricate linkages from other web sites.

Be sure to stay tuned to further developments in the Internet web publishing area. The traffic that your site receives may depend on it.



Oct 27, 2014 5:36pm
I love how you included one of Lisa Irby's video. She's a real mentor to follow.

Thanks for the useful information.
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