Billions of businesses are marketed each month because consumers use search engines. But what happens if you are at the bottom of the list? Only the highest ranked websites find their way to the front page, and they get the most customers. Not many people have the time to search though all the pages that even the most basic search engine provides. Search engine optimizations is a huge, and still growing, internet marketing strategy used in the business world to help move your website from the bottom 10% to the top.
What is SEO?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of improving the visibility of a website in a search engine’s organic, or un-paid, search results. It covers a large variety of searches including: image searches, local searches (businesses and venues), video searches, academic searches (journals and articles), news, and vertical searches (specific content: shopping, information, media). This internet marketing strategy considers how search engines work, what people are looking for in a successful search, search terms and keywords, and which search engines are preferred by the targeted consumer.
Webmasters and content providers began SEO in the mid-1990’s. They would submit an address or URL to a search engine that would then send a “Web spider” to “crawl” the data provided on the website. The leading search engines Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, send crawlers to find pages that have been submitted to other search engines to be used in their algorithmic results. These crawlings would extract certain information, such as links, and send it to the indexer. The spider then downloads the page directly to the search engine’s server where the indexer extracts certain information including: words the website contains and where they are located, certain weighted keywords, and all links contained in the page going to and from the website. This information is then stored in a scheduling file to be crawled at a later date. Some search engines guarantee crawling for either a set fee or a cost-per-click. This guarantees inclusion in the search database, but does not guarantee a specific ranking.
The search engine algorithm used to find the right website isn’t perfect; it guesses which website a user wants to find: some guesses are more accurate than others. When search engines began, they assumed that all websites had an equal chance at being picked by a user. This was obviously false, since only the sites ranked higher were seen first. Crawlers began examining which websites liked to other websites and hypothesized that websites with more incoming links held more valuable information and were more popular. When the crawlers find a website that has many incoming links they rank it highly, resulting in the website showing up earlier in the search. Further, since that website is popular, any outbound links will rank highly as well.
White Hat vs. Black Hat
Though it sounds more like a lame comic book superhero and villain, it’s really the two general categories of search engine optimization techniques: one that search engines recommend as being a good design and one they disapprove of intently. Black hat SEO use techniques such as “spamdexing”: deliberate and unfair manipulation of the search engine indexes. Though not the only method, black hats involve the unnecessary repetition of unrelated phrases to manipulate the relevance of their sites in the searches. White hat SEO conform to the search engines guidelines without deception. They not only follow these guidelines, but they make sure what is being indexed is the content the user sees. White hats create content for the user, not the search engine. White hats generally produce results that last a long time, whereas black hats accept and anticipate that their sites will be banned once the search engines discover their deception.