How SEO Works
Most crawler-based search engines have three key ingredients:
- The spider or crawler that seeks out a Web page, reads it and follows links to other pages on the site. These powerful little tech-mites return every few weeks to look for changes and adjust results.
- An indexed archive where all content uncovered by the spiders is stored. Also known as the catalog, it contains a copy of every Web page found, and is updated as a Web site changes or grows – for example, when you add new products.
- Software that zips through the index database to “match” search requests and rank them by relevance. Because most crawler-based search engines use their own technology, search results vary between them.
How Search Engines Rank Web Sites
Unlike a human archivist or librarian, Internet search engines don’t interact with users and ask for more details, or use judgment and past experience to rank Web pages.
Instead, they rely on mathematic formulas called “algorithms.” Despite what you may hear, nobody but the search engine owner knows exactly how their algorithm works.
But they do follow a universal practice known as the keyword location/frequency method. Search engines look over your Web site to see if the search keywords show up at the top your pages, in the headlines or the first few lines of text content.
They assume that any page relevant to a given search topic will mention those magic words right from the start. “Frequency” is how often keywords appear in relation to other words on a Web page. Those with higher frequency are given more relevance, and higher rankings.
SEO Best Practices
Boosting your Web site’s visibility is a very competitive game, and you should assume that rival sites are playing it.
No worries. Here are some well-proven ways to optimize your Web site’s visibility:
Get the most from your URL
Be specific and creative with your domain name. Use one that uniquely identifies your company and your brand.
Create search-friendly page titles
Be sure to use relevant keywords first in your page titles, and keep them under 60 characters.
Don’t use “home page” in your title
Studies show it decreases your Google ranking.
Highlight your keywords
Be sure the individual words and phrases are in the meta tag description of your site, which you build into the code with your design or site-builder software. The description should be no more than 200 characters long.
Focus on density
Use multiple key words in a coherent, creative and compelling way on your pages. Be sure your keyword “density” is never more than 5 percent for pages with a lot of text, or 10 percent for pages with little copy, or your rankings could nosedive. SEO Chat.com has a free keyword density tool.