Advice and Tips on SEO: Search Engines can put your site on the map

No website will be a success unless people know the site exists.
You can spend thousands on advertising and the promotion of your website. Indeed, some sort of promotion is essential for success.

search engine However there is another, much cheaper way - Search Engines.
Millions of people search for information, products and services daily on the web - and if your site is poorly placed in searches - or even omitted, you are missing out on one massive opportunity. Here are a few things you can do to improve matters.

 Search Engine Optimisation/Optimization (SEO) is a huge subject and one where many of the 'facts' are clouded by the search engines themselves, who closely guard their placement techniques. Here we only scratch the surface and point site owners in the right direction. What we are doing with SEO is ensuring that your website is 'user friendly' for search engines and contains the kind of information that will get your site well placed in searches. 

1) Search Engines Overview

There are 100s of search engines (SEs). You will find sites offering to submit your site to 1000s. But DON'T DO IT! All you will get for your trouble is mountains of SPAM (unsolicited email) to the email address you had to give when you applied for the offer.

While there are 100s of search engines, there are very few SEs that are important. And Google is the most important. Market share of total searches varies depending on the source. But it is clear that in 2014, Google commands over 70% of the market dwarfing even its nearest competitor, Microsoft/Bing with 17%. Add Yahoo, Ask and AOL you have 99% of the market. [Source http://www.strategicrevenue.com]

Google is head & shoulders ahead in referrals to commercial sites.
Strictly speaking, Google is a spider-powered search engine. Yahoo is a directory using humans to help compile its listings. Whatever the figures, Google is number 1 and optimising for Google can only be good for search engine optimisation in general.

Google came from nowhere in 1998 to world market leader in 4 years by simply offering a better product. Clean straightforward presentation backed by a search engine that produces the results searchers want - faster. 'Relevant' results is Google's secret and Google achieve this by mathematics, as they state "Google's order of results is automatically determined by more than 100 factors, including our PageRank algorithm".
Google guards the secret of this formula for success closely, but, although this changes almost continuously, there are some facts that have been deduced that will improve a website's chances on inclusion in Google - and even obtain a high ranking in its pages. These factors are tuned and changed regularly by Google as site owners exploit the 'system'.

2) Localization: which Google? .com/ .ca/ .co.uk/ .com.au/ etc. etc.

Search Engines are going local! Every country worth searching has its own Google now. This is good news if you are looking for cheap widgets round the corner, but what does it mean for site owners and what determines which site appears in which country's search engine?

Your site's IP (Internet Protocol) address will be taken into consideration. Every website and every internet user's computer is issued with an IP address. Hosting IP addresses and broadband access ones can be permanent, dial-up IP addresses are usually issued for the length of the user is online. Have a look at just how much info you are telling everyone when you go one line by looking up your IP address.

Thus, if your site is hosted in the USA, search engines assume from the US IP address that is where your site should appear in their listings.

Likewise, your domain name: a .com or .net will be assumed to be USA/international and a .co.uk in the UK and so on - unless your website hosting is in another country. A country TLD (top level domain) like .it (Italy) or .de (Germany) will not achieve much listing beyond Goolge.it a or Google.de.

3) What you need to do to get listed high in Google

Website owners want to increase their placement in SERPs - Search Engine Results Pages or ranking.

We will examining the following areas:

(i) website code maximisation - the web designer's job
(ii) website content - focusing on keywords - known as on-page factors
(iii) inbound links - vital for Google - know as off-page factors

Actually SEO, and optimisation for Google in particular, does nothing more than what an ideal website should do anyway. That's what made Google successful - bringing up useful, fresh sites full of new information. The kind of sites that other sites want to link to. Sites that you'd like to visit.
All we do in SEO is pinpoint these ideals and ensure they are applied.

(i) Website code maximization

That's our job as website designers.

We take care of the code making sure that your site is 'search engine friendly'. The use of tags, tags, / attributes for images with keywords in, links with keywords in etc. We also employ CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) so that the code the search engines read is kept as pure and uncluttered as possible. Another advantage of CSS is that we can place important text near the top of the code (to be seen first by search engines), though this may appear in a different order when rendered by browsers.
SEs can have difficulty finding their way through Flash and Javascript - we keep these to a minimum. The rollover effects in the menu are made with CSS not JavaScript. The use of 'tables' is kept to a minimum and the mark-up code is compliant.

But the designer can only take your site so far...

What the site owner does is even more important:

ii) Content is, as usual, king

Like us, search engines like quality, informative and frequently updated text to read - well at least that is what they are programmed to look for. However, they are not very clever and can be fooled - but only for a short time. Search engines used to read hidden 'meta' information in the head code of websites to rate sites. However these were abused to improve websites' search engine position. Google certainly does not read meta tags (other than the site description - and even that is debatable).

Check your website statistics under 'User Agents' for visitors like:

  • msnbot/0.3
  • Googlebot (in various versions)
  • Ask Jeeves/Teoma
  • NaverBot-1.0
  • ConveraCrawler
  • Yahoo! Slurp

These strange names are some examples of spiders or robots from search engines that have crawled your site.

These spiders read your text, but they cannot see images and, although all images should have 'title/alt attributes' that show when moused over, clearly you will not get the '1000 words' a picture paints for you and me with search engines. Thus sites with little written content are usually poorly rated by search engines.

Naturally an automated search engine has no idea if the text on your site is interesting. It simply files it all away to be retrieved when someone enters a search in the form of keywords and key phrases.

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