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Understanding Search Engine Optimisation

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 10 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Search Engine Search Engine Crawler

Search engines are now essential for any business that has a presence on the Internet. Forrester estimates that 80% of all websites are found using a search engine so it's imperative that your business's website is designed so all the major search engines can locate it.

There are many search engines that your business's customers could use, but the most popular are Google, MSN and Yahoo! Between them they account for the vast majority of web searches. Google has 300 million people a day using its search engine.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) can at first seem like a highly technical task to perform for your website, but once you understand how search engines work, it's relatively easy to adapt your site to it can be more easily found by search engines.

Search and Find

All search engines are basically giant databases of links. Each of the search engines send out onto the Internet special programs called crawler that look for new websites and web pages that have had their content updated. They not only look for new content, but also look at how popular a website or individual web page is based on how many other sites link to it.

One of the best ways of improving your website's own ranking on a search engines is therefore, to create great content for your site that many people want to link to. This popularity will be rewarded with a higher page ranking.

One technique that is often used by website designers is to load each page with keywords. Yes, keywords will be referenced by the search engines' crawler-programs, but they look at your website's page in much more detail.

It's important to understand how the leading search engines decide on the page rankings of any given site as many SEO service companies will claim to be able to get your business's website at the top of Google, and charge you thousands of pounds for the service. The fact is, you can make your website more attractive and interesting and improve your search engine ranking yourself.

Search Engine Help

All search engines are not the same, which means you have to handle how you design your web pages for each search engine separately. Use the links below to get first-hand information on how to optimise your website for each of the major search engines.

As the world's leading search engine, use the advice on this page to make your web pages Google friendly and improve your chances of a high page ranking.

Microsoft has spent a great deal of time and money positioning its MSN search engine as a market leader. This page shows you how to optimise your website so MSN's crawler can index your website's pages with ease.

Yahoo! is one of the key search engines in the marketplace today so ensuring your website is properly indexed by their crawler is essential. This page is your resource to designing Yahoo! friendly web pages.

The ASK search engine may not have received many headlines, but it has consistently improved its performance making it a popular alternative to the other search engines available to your customers.

Optimisation checklist

Use this checklist to help you build search engine friendly web pages.
  1. Don't load your web pages with links. These may be recommended as a way of improving your site's rank position, but try and limit the number of links on any given page to 100.
  2. Think about the content on every page of your website. Some of the most sophisticated crawler programs will look at the relationship between each word on your page, so crafting great content becomes even more important.
  3. Don't try using techniques like creating dummy websites that simply link back to your site to give the impression it is more popular than it actually is. This is frowned upon by all search engines that will penalise your business with a low page ranking if you are caught using these techniques.
  4. You can use animation on your website but the text that is contains can't be indexed by search engines. Embedding your video or animation in an ordinary web page will ensure that search engines see your pages and can include them in their index.
  5. Ensure that you make life as easy for search engine crawlers as you can. For instance, with Google if your web pages have the If-Modified-Since HTTP header Google's crawler can instantly tell if anything on each page has changed.
  6. Always place your audience at the centre of every piece of content you place on your website. Getting a good page ranking on any search engine is about making your website a place that people want to visit.

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