SEO - Search Engine Optimisation
According to Wikipedia: Search engine optimisation (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. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results, or the higher it "ranks", the more searchers will visit that site. Search Engine Optimisation can also target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.
Effective SEO often requires changes to the HTML source code of a site, Search Engine Optimisation 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 and shopping carts that are easy to optimize.
SEO is basically a method used to ensure that a page / pages / or an entire web site appear on the top of the results set for a given keyword or set of keywords. In the early days of the internet, the search engine spiders that combed the web for web sites to index / list in their search index relied heavily on meta tags. The main three meta tags that were scanned for inclusion on a search engine index were the Title, Description and Keyword tags. Savvy web masters soon realised that by stuffing these meta tags with many keywords and repeating them, they could get their sites to rank well for any given search term. This meant that the control of the search engine results was basically in the control of the web masters and not the search engines themselves.
The result was that the search engines began developing algorithms to rank, rate and classify web sites based on a number of on page and off page factors, such as links to the web site, prominence of keywords, repetition of phrases, placement of content, linking strategies, domain age and trust factor, links out etc.
Two graduate students at Stanford University, Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed "backrub", a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links. PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random surfer.
As a Search Engine Optimisation industry began to mature the search engines had to constantly change their algorithms to stay ahead of the Black Hat SEO's (as opposed to White Hat SEO's) in an attempt to ensure that the search results remained relevant. Many search engines make the on page optimisation factors available in their Guidelines to Webmasters, whilst keeping the off page factors and weightings of their algorithms a closely guarded secret.
Many refer to SEO as a 'Black Art', as some Search Engine Optimisation experts seem to make sites appear on the front page of search results like magic and seemingly effortlessly.
The magic first page result on a search engine can mean the difference between only two visitors a day as opposed to thousands of visitors and, when you are selling a product, it can mean the difference between eating bread or caviar.
What makes a good Search Engine Optimisation Expert?
1. He can show you his success stories.
2. He understands your business and marketing of any product.
3. He zeroes in on your Unique Selling Position quickly.
4. He explains the path to good rankings, is enthusiastic and wants to share the journey with you.
5. He DOES NOT promise you instant gratification and top page ranking immediately.
6. He has a good command of his home language and the written word.
7. When he talks you find yourself nodding, as it just makes sense.
8. His own web site ranks relatively well for a FEW search terms.
9. You can pick up the phone and talk or pop in and talk to him.
10. He has a good grasp of time that it will take to optimise each of your pages and gives a realistic time frame to ensure that your site will rank well in the search engines for a LONG time.
What can you expect good Search Engine Optimisation to cost?
That is a bit like asking; "How long is a piece of string?" But, everything is time based. Think what a professional person gets paid on an hourly basis, then work out how many pages your existing web site consists of. Your initial consult will involve a complete look at your web site and suggested coding changes for you or your web designer to implement. Around 20 minutes per page at a rough estimate.
The optimisation does not end there, though. Some sites need complete overhauls and content changes. All sites need a decent linking strategy in place. Good links come from good content which can be placed on your site or in the form of articles, press releases, forum posting and the like.
If you have many people contributing to content on your web site they will all need to be coached in proper word placement and keyword use.
Your existing backlinks need to be tracked and optimised further or asked for them to be removed from certain sites.
You need to monitor progress for your chosen keyword or search term.
You don't want to spend the money and want to do it yourself?
A good Search Engine Optimisation Expert will be continually absorbing many snippets of information from many sources every day and is adept at monitoring the progress of many web sites up and down the search engine rankings. After a while he just operates on instinct and just knows what words or combination of words will work to get good rankings. This is experience gained over many years.
We recommend only one desktop software program to help you with your OWN search engine optimisation efforts - Axandra. Axandra contains two programs; Arelis will find, track, trace, check backlinks, build link pages, email web site owners and record all activities that you do with regards to your link building efforts. IBP will look at your web site from a search engine spiders viewpoint and do the same to 10 of the web sites that appear in the top 10 of the search engine results for your targeted key word or search phrase. You can then compare yourself with your competitors and get many comprehensive reports highlighting the steps you need to take to get higher search engine rankings. Included in IBP is a list of hundreds of high quality directories for you to submit your web site to, via an easy to use facility that pre-populates the directory or search engine submission form with all the detail for your site.
If you would rather go it completely alone and not buy any software to assist you then try one of these two free e-books:
Of course you could always just phone Alan on 041 374 5855
Why phone Alan?
I am tempted to say, "Why Not?", but, I can show you success stories and give a realistic estimate on whether I can help you or not. I have been giving free advice for a number of years to a number of mates who are web designers and they can confirm how their web sites have climbed in the rankings with the implementation of just a few suggestions. In addition, most of my own content sites dominate the results for their chosen keywords or search terms.