SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization means all activities aimed at achieving the best detection, analysis and reading of the website through their Spiders. These will improve (or maintain) a high ranking in response to questions from the web users.

How was the Internet born?

In the 1950s-1960s, the USA developed a new computing technology that made it possible communication between computers. What this meant is that for the very first time it was possible to send a message from one computer to another. At the same time, they invented a network that if a computer went offline allowed to reroute a message to other machines so that the message could not be lost. Shortly after the US Defence Authority started to use a network called that allowed communication between the United States and the major cities in Europe: that became the International Network of Computers today known to the most as The Internet . In the 80s, Tim Berners-Lee invented the HTML (HyperText Markup Language) creating a document that travelling across the Internet would always look the same regardless of the operating system used to view it. This invention allowed people to create documents on their computers using the HTML that other people could see. Very quickly most organisations in the world started to use this new language and create documents which they added to their server and suddenly the Internet as we known it today, was created. Shortly after the Internet became crowded with HTML documents and it was too hard to find what people needed. It was then that software companies developed the Search Engines Software which was able to find HTML for people.

Up until fifteen years ago there were a lot of different search engines that people would use all at the same time since none of them was particularly good or somehow different from the others until Google was born.

To understand why Search Engine Optimization is vital for businesses we need first to understand how it works. Spiders are pieces of software that go out on the Internet from one computer to another in search of HTML. Once they find a server that has what they look for they will take notes. Other software at the “search engine office” will index the information found and put in order creating a library (with pages, images, languages, videos, contents) called Indexing Software .

None of the search engines can grab all the existing information on the net; that is why is advisable to use more than one search engine at the same time. What is important when building a website is to be sure that spiders can find it otherwise the page will not appear in their index and therefore, it will not be found. At the same time, it is compulsory to understand the algorithms that the software companies have written to pull the information out of their database. This because when doing a search the software will go back through its algorithm and run programmes in less than a second. It will check the information the user is looking for through its index, and once found it, it displays it on the Result Page.

Web search is what 87% of the people will do when using the internet and that is why it is important for organisations and businesses to built their website with information that can be easily found by a search engine; that is why SEO can help organizations to do well on the web. Step one is to find a good position on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) in the natural search (SEO) which appears in the middle of the screen as most of the traffic will come through SEO. However, it is also important to do PPC (or paid search) if a business in not doing exceptionally well on the SEO as there will be potential customers (30%) clicking on the adverts (at the top and on the right of the web page). What is important is to be right at the top of the search page among the very first results otherwise something is not working the way it should.

Search is a very relevant part of web marketing since the majority of the web traffic of a business, or an organization will come through SEO. That is why SEO can be exploited to turn people into customers, put them on their conversion journey and move them through sales.

Clarity of purpose is at the base of most web marketing, therefore, is extremely significant for SEO too. Most organisation want to be one step ahead of their competitors and use a strategy called Position Based . Others might have had position number one in a particular search with a precise keyword phrase but have more visitors with another phrase. This is called Visitors Volume Based Strategy. Finally if a company opts to grow their position in a particular product the will use a Market Share Based Strategy . SEO is a Value-Based Strategy where to be number one is important, but to find the right keywords is fundamental.

Once the objectives are clear Keyword Analysis must be done. First of all the organisations need to find the keyword phrases they are going to use. Google has some very interesting tools like Google Suggestions or Google Trends available for free, that can tell what people are searching for. Some other tools are not free, but it is advisable to use them as they access different search engines. Brainstorming is also necessary especially when a company has to abandon their specific jargon to look for words customers will use. Once the search is finished, there are many words to choose from. At this point, a good suggestion is to use the Long Tail . During a search, potential customers will start digiting just a few words which will be the most popular terms on the head of the Long Tail. It is more than possible not to be number one at the competitors analysis on the search page as competition sometimes is very hard. The next step is move along the tail and change the keywords so that the "game" will be smaller. Demand and competition need to be well balanced to be number one. Next is to work out what customers do when using a search engine. Their journey looks like a purchase decision where customers first browse doing a generic search; then they research using more designed words and finally they will complete their search looking for something very specific. That something specific will be at the end of the Long tail where the organisations should be to gain customers.

There are two different approaches that can be used once the companies have decided what keyword phrases they are going to put in the text. The first one is called On Page Optimisation and refers to the things that can be done and controlled onto websites. These are:

1) How the site is built (site-wide HTML). A website should be designed forsearch engines from the very beginning as it is much more complicated to rebuilt an existing one;

2) Individual pages , their layout and where keywords should be inserted;

3) Body Copy where the keywords are entered. This will help the search engine to understand what pages are about.

The chosen keywords need to be sprinkled throughout the web pages, and that is the general approach to lay out a page. The words should not be repeated too many times otherwise the text will lose its logic, and the web page could be penalised by the software.

Other necessary tools are Meta Tags . They are part of the HTML and tell the software the content of the pages found. The keywords do not have to be in the title of the page or in the document itself as Meta Tags only help to find the page reading its content. This tool is not as used as it was before as people started to abuse it adding the keywords too many times just to appear at the top of the search engine. Title Tags , on the other hand, are very important. They tell HTML what the document contains whereas Description Tags also very relevant, are used by HTLM to list pages on the SEPS. These will encourage people to click on a page. Last but not least the Keyword Tags that will contain the chosen keywords.

The second approach is the Off Page Optimisation, which is what Google is all about. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google, came along with a different idea to determine the quality of the material found by the Spiders and this new technique had no rivals. Their basic model was not very different from the other existing search engines but had something new called Page Rank . Google software would still find the HTML as the other servers, but their software would also go onto other sites linking to that particular page. All these links cannot be controlled however being present on other pages would give visibility of the chosen keywords on to the other websites linking to it. The more links are present on a page the higher is the score Google will give to it. Google would also ask questions like:

-How may times does this page contain that particular keyword?

-Does the keyword appear in the title?

-Does the Keyword appear in the URL?

-Does the page include any synonyms of the keyword?

-Is the page from a quality website or not?

-What is this page Page Rank?

All these factors are eventually combined to produce the overall page score. Once the score is provided the search result is sent back in half a second from the search submission. Every single entry examined by Google would include:

- a title

- a URL

- a small part of the text

- links to other pages

- other searches at the bottom

to help the user to decide and evaluate if that page contains the information he is looking for. This is the formula that makes the difference.

Google encourages organisations and businesses to make quality websites and penalise those that try to cheat or publish weak material. Bearing this in mind companies should understand how important is to produce web pages that will contain quality content. A quality page would also:

- be up to date

- be easy to download

- have the latest software, latest standards and multimedia embedded

- keywords in the Title Tag page

- keywords in the H1 Tag (headings of the HTML)

- outbound links

- links to additional documents and materials (video and PDFs)

- Twitter buttons and Facebook buttons

Following these tips, SEO is going to work and if it is going to work it means it helps the user.