Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Very Basics of SEO

So here we are in 2010. A new year and you are hoping for great things from your website in this new, potentially austere, decade. Utterly confused about how to make your website more effective you trawl the web looking for a silver bullet.

Here's a simple basic SEO overview and description.

What does Google do?
Google lists websites in response to a users request for information. The request is sometimes simple such as "taxi Aberdeen" and sometimes more complex such as "luxury taxi service in Aberdeen"

How does Google do that?
Google's software trawls the web indexing pages of information. The software tries to 'understand' what a page is about so it can list the page in response to a users search.

How does Google decide which page to put first?
Search results, the list of websites you see when you use Google to find something, are listed in order of relevance and importance. Relevance will depend on the content of the page, importance will depend on links to the page.

Why are links important?
Remember, Google's search results are automated by software. The software measures the number and quality of links to a page and uses this information to 'decide' a pages importance. For example, if 100 pages in the Google index match the search "luxury taxi service in Aberdeen" Google's software will use the number and quality of links to each page to 'decide' which is the best page, which page should be first.

What constitutes a good link?
This is a tough question. There's plenty of empirical evidence to suggest any link is a good link. However, as a rule of thumb the harder a link is to secure, the more value it will bring to your page.

Can you give me an example?
If you participate in an online forum and add links to your pages from your posts and forum signature these may not provide much benefit as they are not merit based links, they are simply self promotion. If on the other hand you create some very useful content and other people link to it this will often bring more search engine benefit as it's a merit based link.

Is this always the case?
No, you can enjoy search engine success by using one of the many search engine spamming techniques. The downside to this approach is you run the risk of a sudden fall from the search results if your technique is discovered by Google. Here's some link building advice detailing the up and downsides of several link building methods.

Can I simply buy links?
Yes, but Google advises against it.

In Conclusion
Trying to rank your site in Google can be frustrating. When we receive requests for SEO Advice or SEO Reviews we are often told by the site owner that they 'need to be number one in Google when people type .................. (insert your keyword here)'. A search result is not a right, if your site is new you will struggle to rank for anything worth ranking for. If your site isn't well structured the search engines won't be able to 'understand' it. If you don't have any links Google won't know if it can trust it.

Work methodically and if you've got the budget get some help from an SEO specialist.

More in this category: General SEO, SEO Basics, Link Building