SEO 101

SEO 101

Many people ask the question, “Why is a high ranking in search engine results so important?” Surprisingly, the answer is simple—unfound pages equate to unread content.

If a web page ceases to materialize in search results, the content will cease to be found by searchers. It is understandable then, that if web searchers do not realize a page exists, then searchers cannot visit the web page.

Additionally, merely appearing in a Google search index is insufficient.  Most people do not look past the first page of search results (many do not even scroll down the entire first page), making it necessary to rank as high as possible in a search index.  Web pages must stand out among a seemingly infinite amount of competing content.  This reduces to the fact that web page content needs to rank somewhere in the top 5 or 10 sites that arise when someone searches for a given query. Any web page appearing lower in the results will lead to dramatically decreased visitors and traffic for a site.

Prior to beginning the process of optimizing content for search engines, web page managers need to understand how search engines work. Gaining an adequate foundation of knowledge concerning the methods that large search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing use to rank their results will prove vastly beneficial. It is important to realize exactly how and why search engines rank some pages very high while ranking others very low.

Google is by far the most prevalent search engine used on the web, and it helps to look at how this site ranks its results. Keep in mind, though, that Google, like its competitors, endeavors to oblige its users by ranking the most relevant pages first and ranking less relevant pages lower in the results. Google achieves this goal by implementing an intricate algorithm founded on three primary factors: text analysis, links, and link text/inbound links.

Text analysis is the primary step Google takes to rank search results. Google first looks for words on a page that match the words in a specific search query, but it is much more complicated than simple text matching. Google also looks at how those words are used. Google uses strategies such as examining font size, grammatical usage, and proximity to determine web page relevance to a query. Additionally, Google evaluates different pages from a single website to guarantee that the selected page is the best match.

Links and link text is next. Google looks at the links (as well as the text for those links) on the web page, ensuring that they connect to pages that are related to the searcher’s query. Links that lead to pages irrelevant to the query consequently result in lowering a page’s ranking.

Finally, Google attempts to determine a page’s pertinence to a query by counting the number of other pages that link to that page with inbound links. The theory behind this notion is that the more popular a page is, the higher that page’s ultimate value is. Essentially, the more pages that link to a page or post, the higher the ranking it receives in a Google search index.

It is easy to identify why higher rankings in search results is better for a web page.  Achieving this goal, though, is much more complex.  It requires knowledge of how search engines work, as well as the patience to apply the aforementioned knowledge in a manner that is effective. Alas, many find this practice to be quite tedious.  However, do not be afraid of the intricate process required to optimize your web page so that it receives higher rankings in a search index.  Your efforts will surely prove to be worth your while.

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