Search Engine Optimization - Make the search engines beg for more of your content.
What makes Google, or any other search engine for that matter, put some sites right up at the top of the first page of their search results listings, while other sites struggle to even get into the index? The answer is the sometimes black art of search engine optimization.
Each search engine operates a complex algorithm - a huge formula - that takes into account dozens, or perhaps even hundreds of factors.
Ever since search engines began, website builders have been trying to work out which of the myriad factors are important and which can be safely ignored. That endless quest is what search engine optimization is all about.
Every once in a while someone manages to reverse engineer Google or one of the others enough to find that one, two, or a combination of several factors are currently flavor of the month. When they find this golden information, websites spring up everywhere that try to exploit the new SEO knowledge to 'game' Google into giving them top rankings.
It is big business because high rankings directly equate to high traffic - free traffic at that - that can then be turned into cash.
Google and the other search engines tend to show 10 listings by default after someone performs a search, and most people only bother to look down the first page they see.
It is a tribute to the effectiveness of the search engines that most searchers are satisfied by the results they get from the page #1 search results, but that doesn't mean that if your site is ranked at #11 it will get significantly less traffic than if it was at #10.
In fact, the number of people who click through the listings diminishes very quickly as you move down the ranks. On average, it is calculated that:
On my 22-inch monitor, on pages where Google puts three paid ads on top of the natural organic search results, I can only see four listings without scrolling the screen. This small 'window' is called the 'above the fold' area of the page and accounts for two-thirds of all click traffic.
In addition, when you factor in Google's own statement (in early 2008) that as many as 14% of their clicks are on paid ads and 86% of clicks are on organic search results, you begin to see why search engine optimization - and its endless drive to get your site into the top three or four of Google's listings for a given keyword or phrase - is so important.
Search engine optimization breaks down into two quite distinct area: on-page and off-page optimization.
With on-page SEO the aim is to make your web page as attractive to the search engines as possible for as many factors that seem to matter. These factors tend to be ones that lend a web page authority and credence and are not generally too much concerned with the look and feel of the site.
Nobody knows for sure which factors are important at any one time, and the search engines are certainly not going to tell us, but some elements of a page seem to count more than others:
For example, all the following elements should be present and should include the page' principle keyword:
* The title tag of the page
* The URL of the page
* The page's primary headline (as indicated in the HTML by the H1 tag)
The age of the domain the page is on, and the length of time the domain name has been registered for appear to matter.
In addition, the way the page content has been written seems to count more nowadays than it ha in the past. For example, a page that is primarily about horse training should include natural-sounding words that complement that keyword - words like stable, rider, vet and so on. This is called latent semantic analysis (which means finding the hidden words that count).
For a keyword that has little competition - few other web pages trying o get ranked for it - good on-page SEO can often be all you need to get a good ranking.
However, in the real world most of the keywords we want to build pages, and get traffic for do have competition, and sometimes there are hundreds of thousands of other sites vying for top ranks.
That's when the other side of search engine optimization becomes so very important: off-page SEO.
As the name suggests, off-page search engine optimization is about doing things to attract the search engines' attention to your site, on other people's sites.
To understand how it works we have to go right back to the beginning of search engines and see what made it all happen for Sergey Brin and Larry Page who started Google in March 1996.
Their breakthrough was to realize that if web page 'a' on one site had a link on it to web page 'b' on another site, that link could be taken as a vote of confidence. So the more links that a page had pointing at it from other sites, the more of an authority that page, and therefore the site it is a part of could be assumed to have.
These links, now called backlinks, are still the fundamental factor that drives off page search engine optimization: the more backlinks you can get - and the more 'authority' the pages giving you those backlinks - the higher your pages are regarded.
Building networks of backlinks to your pages is hard work and many people fail to recognize that without it, their sites, and their traffic, can never reach full potential.
While you can outsource a lot of the work, it is a relatively simple process, albeit somewhat time consuming.
By the way, do you have any questions about search engine optimization, free traffic generation, website tools and about the CTPM process that makes it all easy and highly profitable? Go to my search engine optimization answers page and ask away.
Article marketing can be a little tricky to understand and when you throw the Google search engine into the mix, it can get to be a little much.
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Good luck and best wishes always!