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The phrase search engine optimisation is shortened to SEO. This refers to the process of making specific modifications and additions to a website and its online profile in order to improve search engine performance: resulting in increased numbers of visitors and sales resulting from the major search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing).
How search engines work
Almost all internet users will be familiar with the use of search engines to find relevant information: you enter a word or phrase, and a list of web pages related to those words appears. Behind the scenes, there are a number of complex procedures needed in order to return those results to you.
Search engine spidering
First of all, search engines use a technique known as spidering in order to collect information from web pages. This involves downloading web pages, and following links on them to other pages and in turn downloading those pages. By this process, a search engine spider can locate and store billions of web pages, building up a large database of as many pages as possible. Many search engines refer to their stored web pages as a 'cache', and you can often see links to 'cached' pages on search result pages.
Search engine algorithms
Once a search engine has a large store of pages, they allow users to enter keywords in order to locate them. In order to return the most relevant pages possible, search engine engineers create algorithms to work out which pages to show. An algorithm is essentially a series of calculations or formulas designed to determine the most relevant pages. Now that there are many billions of web pages available, search engine algorithms have become extremely complex, with many hundreds of factors involved in selecting an appropriate page.
Search engine optimisation techniques
Experienced SEO companies have spent many years studying the way search engines work, and keeping up to date with changes to search engine algorithms. This provides crucial insight into techniques that can improve search engine performance. Typically the most effective strategies focus on two key areas:
On page factors
On-page factors are those in the direct control of site owners and developers. They can involve changes to text used on a page, the way pages are coded, site structure and information hierarchy. Ensuring content is optimal for both users and search engines is a key task for any search engine optimiser.
Off page factors
Most modern search engines try to measure the importance or reputation of web pages in an attempt to gauge how other people view a site and its content. Typically, this involves looking at the other sites that are linking to the page (and site) in question. Search engine optimisers can create and deploy link building strategies that ensure sites have an effective online reputation that contributes to search engine success.
Guidelines and best practices
All of the major search engines publish guidelines detailing the criteria sites must meet in order to be included in search results. They are able to enforce these guidelines by penalising (deliberately decreasing the performance of a site) or banning (removing a site completely) sites and pages that do not meet these criteria. Google publish their Webmaster Guidelines, Yahoo provide Search Content Quality Guidelines and Bing offer plenty of Site Owner Help.
Site owners must take care when choosing an SEO that they do not jeopardise the future of their websites by contravening the published search engine guidelines.
In addition to the advice from the search engines themselves, search engine optimisers are typically involved in making adjustments to the underlying technologies of websites, and changes to the code used to produce pages. Site owners are well advised to choose a company that follows the standards for web coding provided by the World Wide Web Consortium.
To learn more about search engine optimisation, and how these techniques can be applied to your website in order to increase visitor numbers and sales, you can get in touch via telephone on 01525 715520, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or using our online enquiry form. If you prefer to talk things over face to face, visitors are more than welcome at our Bedfordshire office, or we can even visit you.