An email from a client this week resulted in a response from me that I decided was worthy of the blog.
Thank-you for the information this week - SEO is probably the most frustrating job in the world. You can be doing work on it, but it takes time to see what is effective, AND by the time there is a difference, you are not sure what changes made the difference.
SEO is only frustrating if you spend your time looking for short cuts - although I'm not suggesting you are. There is no adversarial relationship between you and Google. All Google is trying to do is deliver the most relevant results for a given search.
Stage 1 - It crawls your site and indexes it based on the words it finds on your pages. It takes special notice of the TITLE element as this should describe the whole page in a succinct way.
Stage 2 - It tries to establish the authority of your site by looking at the quantity and quality of the links to it.
So, if your page talks about holiday flats in Edinburgh, Google will index it for these terms. If your in bound links are from relevant sites (sites related in some way to your subject matter), and hopefully sites Google trusts because they also have links to them, your chances of being served up for a search on 'holiday flats in Edinburgh' goes up.
So, your page talks about 'holiday flats in Edinburgh'. Google indexes it and in a short time you are in the index. You search for "holiday flats in Edinburgh" but your page languishes on page 5 of the search results. You become frustrated and think to yourself, why isn't it on page one!
Well turn this on its head. Why SHOULD it be on page one? Google knows what your page is about but it has no way of knowing if it's any good. Google's software doesn't understand your content. It can't read it and think to itself - this is good stuff, it's going onto page one!
Although Google advises there are over 100 hundred factors used to determine how it ranks a page, links are high on the list. It makes sense. Imagine you were thinking of buying a second hand car. Would you use the garage down the road you know nothing about or the one round the corner where five of your pals have bought cars and had a great experience?
Most software is 'dumb' and Google's search engine is no different. It's great at counting and indexing but rubbish and figuring out quality. You have to help it as much as you possibly can.
Hope this helps a little.