Friday, July 12, 2013

Which search engines to target?

In the last unit, we suggested that the vast majority of Internet users use search engines to locate products or services. This free system of listings is a more popular method of locating sites than paid-for advertising such as PPC and is thus a better way of improving the visibility of your website. But which search engines do you want to be found by and which search engines should you target? Although the majority of Internet users rely on search engines to find what they are looking for, they do not all use the same search engines. There are, in fact, numerous search engines out there, all vying for a share in the lucrative search engine market. Here are just a few of the search engines that we use when
looking for something on the Internet: As you can see, then, there are numerous companies we can turn to when searching the Internet. Note, however, that not all of these search engines use truly distinct search technology. AOL, for example, bases part of its search results on Google. Teoma uses Ask Jeeves technology. Dogpile is a metacrawler, which means that it searches all the major search engines for you and compiles results from places like Google, Yahoo, and Ask Jeeves. This may seem like a bewildering array of search options and a formidable amount of search engines to optimize your site for. However, we only have to concentrate on the largest players in the search engine market as they have the most people using their search technology, and because they also act as search providers, leasing out their search technology to other search engines. Let‟s look at who the leading players are in the search engine market. The following chart, compiled from data provided by Hit wise shows the search engine market share for December 2009, November 2010 and December 2011. As we can see, Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the big players in the search engine market, accounting for just over 90% of the total market. This means that more people use their search technology to search for products or services on the web than any other search engine. For this reason, these are the search engines you should primarily focus on when analyzing optimizing your siteThere are some important things to note about these search engines.

1. each use different systems to rank pages
2. because different systems are used, a high ranking for a specific keywords in one search engine
does not automatically mean that your page will rank highly for the same keywords in another search engine
3. nevertheless, each use similar principles to determine the relevancy and importance of web pages in relation to search queriesAnatomy of a search In the last unit of the course we began to show you how search engines work. For the sake of simplicity, we can consider the search process to work something like the following:
1. Search Engine Spiders the web
2. Search engine caches pages that its spiders on its servers
3. User enters a search query
4. Search engine checks the search query against its index
5. Search engine returns what it believes to be the most relevant results for that query
Although the process is actually more complex than this, the above diagram is useful in helping us to visualize how searches work, more so in reminding us that when we enter a search term, the search engine does not actually rush off and check every page on the web. This would take far too long. Instead it checks your search term against an index that is stored on its servers. Spiders working their way around the web constantly update this index. Note: because pages are indexed in advance of searches, the results returned might be out of date. When you click on the link for one of the results, for example, you may find that the page has been updated since the search engine last spider it, or even that the page you want has moved. If I carry out a search for cheap web-hosting, the search engine checks its index to see which pages carry the terms „cheap‟, „web‟ and „hosting‟. It then returns a results page containing what it believes are the most relevant pages for these particular keywords. Let‟s look at a typical search result page. This page shows the results for the above search in Google. The results page is set out as follows:
1. Search box with our search query.
2. The number of results Google returned for our search query plus the time the search.
3. Sponsored links. This is paid-for advertising. For this results page, Google has selected
adverts that are relevant to our search query.Search results. This section shows the pages that Google thinks are most relevant to our particular search terms. These listings are free.
4. Link/Page title. The text is the exact text that appears between the title tags (<title></title>) on the page that the search result links to. Notice how keywords from our search query have been highlighted. Page description. This text is commonly the actual text that appears in the Meta description of the page that the search result links to. This is the text between the quotation marks in the HTML tag <META NAME="description" content="YOUR TEXT HERE">. Again, Google has matched this text with our search query.Domain. This is the address of the page linked to. Cached page link. Unlike the above link, which links to the domain that the page is on, this link takes us to the cached version of the page that Google has stored on its server. More results. Links to further pages of results We will now look at some of the ways in which search engines rank pages when determining search.

An Introduction to Search Engine

In the last unit, we explained why search engine visibility is important. In this unit we will take closerlook at search engines. Because SEO is about improving the visibility of your web pages in search engine results, we have to understand a bit about how search engines work. By the end of this unit you should be able to: Understand what search engines do

1. Understand which search engines to concentrate on when optimizing your site
2. Understand how search engines rank results
3.  Measure the Page Rank of individual web pages
4.  Understand how to perform advanced searches

This unit assumes that you have read and understood the last part of the course and that you are comfortable with the terms: keyword, key phrase and search engine optimization.What is a search engine? Wikipedia defines a search engine as: „a program designed to help find information stored on a computer system such as the World Wide Web, or a personal computer. The search engine allows one to ask for content meeting specific criteria (typically those containing a given word or phrase) and retrieving a list of references that match those criteria. Search engines use regularly updated indexes to operate quickly and efficiently.‟ In other words, a search engine is a sophisticated piece of software, accessed through a page on a website that allows you to search the web by entering search queries into a search box. The search engine then attempts to match your search query with the content of web pages that is has stored, or cached, and indexed on its powerful servers in advance of your search. Many search engines allow you to search for things other than text: for example, images. However, for the purpose of this course, we will focus on text-based searches. As we pointed out in the last unit, SEO methods are largely (but not exclusively) centered upon text as they involve matching key parts of the text in your web pages with the keywords or key phrases that people actually type into search engines when looking for something on the internet. There are two main types of search indexes we access when searching the web:

(a) Directories
(b) Crawler-based search engines


Unlike search engines, which use special software to locate and index sites, directories are compiled and maintained by humans. Directories often consist of a categorized list of links to other sites to which you can add your own site. Editors sometimes review your site to see if it is fit for inclusion in the directory.

Crawler-based search engines

Crawler-based search engines differ from directories in that they are not compiled and maintained by humans. Instead, crawler-based search engines use sophisticated pieces of software called spiders or robots to search and index web pages. These spiders are constantly at work, crawling around the web, locating pages, and taking snapshots of those pages to be cached or stored on the search engine‟s servers. They are so sophisticated that they can follow links from one page to another and from one site to another. Google is a prominent example of a crawler-based search engine. Note: Some search systems are „hybrid‟ systems as they combine both forms of index. Yahoo, for example, features both directories and search engines. As we will see later in this course, the SEO process often involves optimizing your site in such a way that it allows search engine spiders to locate every page on your site quickly and easily Spidering vs submitting your site manually. If you browse the web, you will notice that many companies will offer to submit your site to search engines for inclusion in their listings. The services these companies offer are largely unnecessary and can prove to be a waste of time and money. It is important to remember that search engine spiders are constantly crawling the web, following links and indexing pages. Because spiders automatically index your pages when they find them, there is absolutely no need to submit your site manually to the major search engines. Note, however, that the process of being found can take some time, and it can be weeks before the major search engines index your site. SEO is a cost-effective way of making your site visible, but it can take time especially for new sites. However, there are ways to accelerate the indexing process which include xml site maps and RSS. Both these topics will be covered in the next tutorial.

How search engine optimization works

Search engine optimization works by optimizing your site for search engines in such a way that it brings targeted traffic to your site. By this, we mean Internet users who are actually looking for your products or services. Visits from people who are not actually looking for your products or services may increase the number of hits your site gets but is not likely to achieve conversion. Therefore, search engine optimization attempts to bring the right kind of Internet users or potential customers to your site. These users are individuals who have used a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or MSN to find the specific kind of products or services that you offer. In basic terms, SEO does this by attempting to match key aspects of your page content with the kinds of phrases that people type into search engines when looking for something on the

A Basic Internet Search

Let us say, for example, that you are an Internet user who is looking to buy a used car online. Besides going to an online auction site such as eBay, you are likely to start your search for a car by going to the home page of a search engine and typing relevant terms into the search box. This is known as a search query. Here are some of phrases we might type into search engines when looking for a used car. Used cars buy a used car online second hand cars Second hand Automobiles These collections of words are known as search terms or keyword phrases or key phrases. A key phrase is a collection of words that people actually type into search engines when searching for products or services. As Internet users are becoming more sophisticated, they now tend to string keywords together into key phrases as this qualifies their searches and produces more specific results. Of course, the above terms are not the only phrases that people are likely to use when searching for a car
online, but they do show you the kind of words people might actually type into search engines. Note that searches are not case sensitive, so it doesn‟t matter if people use capitals in their search terms or not. When we enter one of the above terms into a major search engine, we are presented with a list of results that the search engine believes to be relevant to the term searched for. For example, if we type buy a used car online into Google, we are presented with the following page of results-

Our first task is a very simple one aimed at offering you a chance to try out the above principles.

1.Navigate to the home page of a major search engine like Google, Yahoo, or Bing
2. Pretend that you are buying flowers for a partner online. Make a short list.
3. of the key phrases you might use to search for this product.
4. Enter each of your key phrases in turn into the search engine.
5. For each key phrase you enter, look at the leading results, and note the frequency of words that correspond with the phrases you used.
6. Ask yourself the following question: „why did the sites returned rank for my key phrases? In order to introduce you to the methods explored later in this course, the following material is a basic primer to optimizing your site. In later units of this course, we will take a more in-depth look at the techniques used by SEO professionals. For convenience, we will divide this primer into two parts. Firstly we will look at what are known as on-page factors, or the actual code and content of individual web pages. Secondly, we will look at off-page factors, or factors that affect the ranking off individual web pages which are not determined by the actual code of your web pages. On Page Factors Bearing in mind that search engines read the textual content of WebPages, it is particularly important that we optimize this content to ensure maximum visibility for our products and services. Every web page has a number of „hotspots‟ or points that are considered particularly important by search engines when they try to determine the relevance of that.

An Introduction to SEO

This topis introduces you to the basics of search engine optimization. By the end of this lesson  you should be able to:
1. Understand what search engine optimization is and does it work.
2. Understand the basic principles behind search engine optimization.
3. Distinguish between SEO and web design.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is the process of altering your web pages so that they rank more highly in search engine results. As the Wikipedia puts it, search engine optimization is a set of methodologies aimed at improving the visibility of a website in search engine listings. The term also refers to an industry of consultants that carry out optimization projects on behalf of client sites. Search Engine Optimization is also sometimes referred to as search engine marketing (SEM).

Although this usage is not strictly accurate as search engine marketing involves high-end marketing strategies that encompass more than just optimizing web pages. The purpose of search engine optimization is to make your site visible on the Internet. It does this by optimizing web pages in such a way as to improve their visibility to search engines and ultimately their search engine ranking. There are other ways to get your site found on the Internet. One way is to get listed in various directories. This usually involves some kind of fee. Another way to make your site visible on the Internet is to pay for advertising. One of the most popular is the Pay per click system or PPC for as like Google Adword.

Under this system, you pay the company who advertises your site a fee every time somebody clicks the link in your advert. These systems can prove to be expensive. In fact, not entirely necessary. A much more cost effective way of making your site visible is to learn the basic techniques of search engine optimization. Unlike PPC or directories, listings in search engine results are absolutely free. Of course, hiring a professional SEO company to do the work of improving your visibility in listings is far from free, but by following the techniques outlined in this course, you can learn how to do the work of optimizing you site yourself site while saving a lot of money in the process.

Because search engine listings are free, this does not mean that they are far from important. It is estimated that somewhere in the region of 85% of Internet users have used search engines at some point. This suggests that millions of people search the Internet for products and services every day. An optimized website allows you to tap into this vast reservoir of potential visitors and customers by allowing your site to be found in search engine listings. Consider also that when Internet users actually go to the bother of typing a search term into a search engine, they are already actively looking for specific products, services, or information. SEO helps you to direct this qualified traffic to your site and thereby convert visits into sales.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Internal Linking

Internal Linking

Internal linking means the internal structure of your website. Think of it, as the tendons of your body, linking muscles to bones and vice versa, or like the smaller internal strands of a spider web.
There are some techniques for linking pages and blog posts together within a website. However, remember one thing, you do not have to link every page to at least one other page. If you include a plugin or program such as Google XTML Sitemaps, you can make sure pages are found within your site regardless of their connectivity. Menus are one of the most obvious forms of internal linking. Your menus structure depends on how many pages you have. Typically, this means having small menu at the top of the page beneath the header or a sidebar menu on the left or right. These contain the titles and links for the main areas on your website. A Largerst sites will include drop down sub-menus that link to smaller pages. Of course, it is possible to have sub-menus, but be conscious of making the site too complicated or labyrinthine.

In-Text Links

This is the most subtle way of linking pages and adverts into a web page. To create an internal link or hyperlink, simply highlight a relevant word. Right-click in a word document or click the chain image and then paste the target URL. You can use these within the main text or as a “see also” section at the end.

Tags and Categories

Many blogs and website building software programs allow the user to denote the category of the page or post and to add tags. Some people like Wordpress allow you to add a sidebar element which called a widget, that lists the categories and creates a tag cloud of the most popular tags.


A sitemap literally provides users with a map of the whole site including pages that are not directly linked to other ones. The easiest way to do this is to install a program such as Google XTML Sitemaps or to ask your web designers to do this for you.
The sitemap will allow users to follow a spider diagram like a blueprint. They will see how each section locks into another and how pages flow into other pages.