What is search engine optimization and the Internet marketing industry?

Here you can find almost everything from technical SEO minutia to broad-based marketing and advertising theory.

SEO and Web Marketing provides our readership with the latest and greatest in industry-related thought and opinion. Since search engine optimization is not an exact science, there is much room for thought, discussion, observation, anecdotal evidence and of course opinion in this field.

How can one define SEO/Web marketing ?

SEO (search engine optimization) defines as "Designing a Web site so that search engines easily find the pages and index them. The main goal is to have your page to be in the top 10 results of a search. Optimization includes the choice of words used in the search box and the placement of those words on the page…" This may be very true, but SEO professionals know there is so very much more to this subject. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often considered as more technical part of Web marketing. This is quite true because SEO does help in the promotion/Grading of websites and at the same time it requires some technical knowledge – at least familiarity with basic HTML. It oftens called SEO copyrighting because most of the techniques that are used to promote sites in search engines deal with text/keywords. Generally, SEO can be defined as the activity of optimizing Web pages or whole sites in order to make them more search engine-friendly, thus getting higher positions in search results.

In Google, for instance, inbound links are king, so simply optimizing what is on your webpage will not go far in Google. The better news, however, is that MSN and Yahoo do pay more attention to what is on the page and rank webpages more on the merits of on-page optimization that upon inbound links.

How Search Engines Work for retrieving results?

The first and the most acceptable truth you need to learn about SEO is that search engines are not humans. While this might be obvious for everybody, the differences between how humans and search engines view web pages aren't. Unlike humans, search engines are text-driven. As technology advances rapidly, search engines are far from intelligent machines that can feel the beauty of a impressive design or enjoy the sounds and movement in movies. Instead, search engines crawl the Web, looking at particular site items (mainly text) to get an idea what a site is about. This brief explanation is not the most precise because as we will see next, search engines perform several activities in order to deliver search results – crawling, indexing, processing, calculating relevancy, and retrieving.

First, search engines surf the Web to see what is there. This task is performed by e piece of software, called a crawler or a spider (or Googlebot, as is the case with Google). Spiders follow links from one page to another and index everything they find on their way. Having in mind the number of pages on the Web (over 20 billion), it is impossible for a spider to visit a site daily just to see if a new page has appeared or if an existing page has been modified. Sometimes crawlers will not visit your site for a month or two, so during this time your SEO efforts will not be rewarded. But there is nothing you can do about it, except to keep quiet.

What you can do is to check what a crawler sees from your site. As already mentioned, crawlers are not humans and they do not see images, JavaScript, Flash movies, frames, password-protected pages and directories, so if you have tons of these on your site, you'd better run the Spider Simulator to see if these goodies are viewable by the spider. If they are not viewable, they will not be spidered, not indexed, not processed, etc. - in a phrase "They will be non-existent for search engines".

After a page is crawled, further is to index its content. The indexed page is stored in a huge database, from where it can later be retrieved. Essentially, the process of indexing is identifying the words that best describe the page and assigning the page to particular keywords. For a human it will not be possible to process such amounts of information but generally search engines are quite fine at this task. Sometimes they might not get the meaning of a page right but if you help them by optimizing it, it will be easier for them to classify your pages correctly and to get higher rankings.

When a search request is entered, the search engine processes it by comparing the search string in the search request with the indexed pages in the database. Since it is likely that millions of pages contains the search string, the search engine starts calculating the relevancy of each of the pages in its index to the keyword in the search box.

There are various methods to calculate relevancy. Each of these methods has different relative weights for common factors like keyword density,metatags or links. That is why different search engines give different search results pages for the same search. What is more, it is a known fact that all major search engines, like Yahoo!, MSN, Google, etc. periodically change their algorithms and if you want to stay at the top, you also need to adapt your pages to the latest changes. This is one reason to devote permanent efforts to SEO, if you'd like to be at the top.

The last activity of search engines'is retrieving the results. Basically, it is nothing more than simply displaying them in the browser – i.e. the endless pages of search results that are sorted from the most relevant to the least relevant sites.

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