Search Engine Optimisation Explained

The ever developing skill of learning how Search Engines position sites on their natural search listings is known as Search Engine Optimisation.

‘Natural’ search listings are the main lists of results that come up when you search for something. Paid listings are separate to natural listings. In a typical Google or Bing search, you can see the paid listings in the right column and in the yellow box at the top. Whereas the free listings are taken from the main index. Sites are graded by how relevant they are, and how important they are (according to the SE!).

Clearly, the goal is to get to the top of the page. We’ve little chance of being seen if we’re way down the list on page 7. No-one knows all the factors that Search Engines (SE’s) use to determine your rank. They don’t want us to know.

So as time has gone on, a sophisticated industry has evolved to get the most from the listings. On the one hand there are SE’s purposely filing a wide array of new patents. Causing much mystification about their methods! On the other side you have an SEO industry. This involves measuring various factors and doing empirical tests to establish the most important ones to target.

There are two sides to SEO: ‘On-Page’ factors & ‘Off-Page’ factors. In addition there are geographic and demographic factors, but SEO cannot control these. (We will cover off page optimisation in a separate article.)

On Page Optimisation

If we can make changes to our site to make it more friendly to Search Engines, this is called ‘on-page’ optimisation. This is quite straight-forward – it simply requires correctly setting up your site. Doing things such as: Internal-linking, using H1 & H2 header tags, seeding keywords at the correct density (and in appropriate places,) and to some lesser degree, using meta-tags.

It doesn’t matter if all that sounds very confusing.

In reality, this is very easy to control, but not wildly effective. Some would argue its effect is so small it’s irrelevant. Many years ago, you used to be able to dupe the SE’s with lots of on-page factors. That hasn’t been possible for a long time though.

If, however, off-page has been optimised, (and there are many inbound back-links), then on-page continues to be important. If that’s the case, internal linking and a certain amount of on-page fine-tuning can reap rewards.

A Bit of Advice…

Avoid doing SEO on keywords that have millions of listings. The phrase ‘car insurance’ yields 70,000,000 results in the United Kingdom alone! Anyone can see it’s not wise to try and compete with 70 million other pages when you’re just starting out!

On the other hand… The phrase ‘Southampton Car Insurance’ only brings in three hundred thousand. (Assuming I was a car insurance provider in Southampton.) This still seems quite a large amount, but it’s actually not in search terms.

Now my chances are significantly improved. In fact, if I wanted to rate for phrases like ‘Car Insurance’ it would probably take a long time and a very large budget. My competition would be the huge corporations. Not a sensible option for anyone.

We should concentrate on more accurate ‘phrases’ that give us less competition. They’re known as long tail searches, because they’ll have several keywords. If your market’s very competitive, you could be selecting seven word phrases. Usually, a long-tail phrase is three or four words.

We normally recommend performing SEO on phrases that return less than half a million results at the start. (In some cases, we may go with a higher count – if the current page 1 results are not well SEO’d.) Over time we’ll gain ground on the larger search terms. This will happen automatically through building back links. With some effort, it will be possible to have a stab at the big ones within a year. This strategy is also far more targeted at the start. We basically go after the high-converting phrases with ‘commercial intent’ – i.e. customers who are looking to purchase!

It’s a good idea to spread the back-links around your web site. Limiting them to the home page is unwise. We call this ‘deep-linking’ – and Google in particular likes this. Category or Product Group pages are a good example. These may contain links to many individual product pages, so it’s worth driving appropriate search terms to them. The home page shouldn’t be the only one to receive back-links. Google and the other SE’s are looking more and more at how individual pages on your site are listed and treated.

About the Author:

I can drive traffic to your website or blog with my powerful SEO/SEM Article Promotion techniques. Find out how by sending me an email via my contact form.  -Rob Fleming is a Freelance writer for hire with over 10 years experience in Developing unique website content, Website Marketing, and SEO techniques. He has authored thousands of powerful articles on building site authority and driving traffic to websites.


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  1. rlfleming - July 24, 2009

    New blog post: Search Engine Optimisation Explained http://bit.ly/SPYnD

  2. rlfleming - July 24, 2009

    New blog post: Search Engine Optimisation Explained http://bit.ly/SPYnD

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