What is search engine
you’re like most people, when you hear terms like search
engine optimization, or SEO for short, you immediately
tune out. Either it can’t possibly have any bearing
on your life—or, if it does, too bad. You have no idea
what it is, and you’re fine with that.
if you have a Web site, and you actually want people
to look at it, SEO has everything to do with you and
the success of whatever your Web site is there for.
is not as complicated as it sounds. Or at least the
part that non-computer-geeks need to know isn’t as complicated
as it sounds. An initial point of clarification: search
engine optimization is something that is done to a Web
site, not to a search engine. In short, it means setting
up your Web site and everything on it so that it is
optimally compatible with search engine criteria. We’ll
start with defining what a search engine is.
a search engine?
Google is a search
engine. Yahoo! Search is a search engine. MSN, AOL,
and Ask.com are all search engines. A search engine
is like an Internet bloodhound. You give it a whiff
of what you’re looking for—say you type in ‘cardiologist’
in Google—and it sniffs through thousands and thousands
of Web sites looking for the word ‘cardiologist,’ as
well as other words that Google knows will also be included
in a legitimate cardiology Web site (such heart, EKG,
then lists—or ranks—the Web sites it finds in order
of how relevant each site is to the entered search terms.
These rankings are called search engine rankings and
are displayed on search engine results pages. Of course,
Google isn’t always right. Sometimes a highly relevant
site is listed on page 8, while useless, content-less
sites appear on page 1 of the search engine results
pages. Why is that? And, since few people even look
past the first page of search results, how can you get
your Web site on page 1? Or, in other words, how can
you optimize your site for high search engine rankings?
Search engine optimization. SEO simply refers to the
various ways you can develop your Web site in order
to increase the chances it will appear higher in Google’s—or
any other search engine’s— rankings for specific search
place would be good, right? If you were a cardiologist,
and your site was #1 on Google’s search results pages
when somebody typed in ‘cardiologist,’ you’d probably
have a booming practice.
let’s get back to how Google decides which sites get
rewarded with high search engine rankings and which
get buried in the back pages. This is where things get
complicated. Google (we’ll just use Google as our quintessential
search engine) is constantly changing how it ranks Web
sites, in an effort to keep those junk sites off its
results pages. You know those sites—no useful information,
just a bunch of ads. Google hates those sites. It has
developed various ways of detecting them and excluding
them from search results.
one thing Google does to determine how well a site matches
search terms is to look for those search terms to appear
within the site. Type in ‘cardiologist,’ and the search
engine looks for that term—what’s called a keyword.
Used to be, your Web site could get a good search engine
ranking just by using a keyword lots and lots of times.
example, on a high ranking for ‘cardiologist’ you might
see an article like this:
am a cardiologist who went to school to be a cardiologist
with lots of other cardiologists and we learned cardiology.
As a cardiologist, I practice cardiology on my cardiology
patients. I am a good cardiologist, a cardiologist with
brown hair, and a cardiologist who likes doing things
other cardiologists like doing when I’m not being a
cardiologist with my cardiology patients. Cardiologist
cardiologist cardiologist cardiologist.”
get the idea. Back in the day, that site might have
ranked very high for the ‘cardiologist’ search. Not
Google sees a keyword or keyword phrase (made up of
more than one word, like ‘heart surgeon’) used too many
times, it concludes the site is bogus and kicks it out
of its search results.
is bad news for all those people who were able to attract
loads of traffic to junk sites full of ads. But it’s
good news if you have a legitimate business and you
want a legitimate Web site. And, it’s good news for
because, even as people keep coming up with tricks,
and Google keeps coming up with ways to outsmart them,
the experts agree that there’s one thing Google and
the other search engines will never cease to love and
reward with high keyword rankings.
that’s original, unique, high-quality—and, yes, optimized—online
content, written for humans, by humans. (Note:
‘Content’ is a catch-all term for all the articles and
information—all the writing—you have on your Web site.
This is also called Web copy or SEO content.)
goal, therefore, is to search engine optimize your Web
site for specific keywords and keyword phrases so that
when somebody searches for those terms your site is
deemed a good match. Optimized online content, then,
is content that promotes your search engine ranking
for certain search terms through strategic, original
Web writing. Today, search engines are so sophisticated
that optimized online content must not only include
keywords, keyword phrases and expert lingo—but it must
be smooth, highly readable and unique.
recap: Search engine optimization is something you do
to your Web site—and specifically to the content on
your site—to enhance your site’s relevancy for keywords
and keyword phrases and improve your search engine rankings
for those keywords. That way, when someone does a search
for the terms for which your site is a good match (they
search for ‘Atlanta cardiologist’ and you’re a cardiologist
in Atlanta)—your site is listed high on the search engine
high search engine ranking means your Web site will
attract more traffic, and that the traffic you get will
more often be the traffic you want. In other words,
a search engine optimized Web site attracts a high volume
of target traffic.
the best way to get a high search engine ranking is
to have a site with many unique content-rich Web pages.
This is called organic search engine optimization—in
contrast to various tricks that search engines are constantly
trying to snuff out. Organic SEO requires optimized
Web copy, which is written in a way
that’s attractive to search engines and readers alike.
We discuss the importance of high search engine rankings—in
contrast to paying for costly ad space on results pages—more
in the next article.
Hired Gun team includes SEO experts and professional
Web writers. Contact
us or more information on our professional
Web copywriting services, and request a free estimate
for your content needs.
next article: Why
are high search engine rankings important?
to Online Content main page.]