Search Engine Optimization

search engine optimization, the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a Web site by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. It is common practice for Internet users to not click through pages and pages of search results, so where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic toward the site. SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine.

How Web Search Engines Work?
Search engines are the key to finding specific information on the vast expanse of the World Wide Web. Without sophisticated search engines, it would be virtually impossible to locate anything on the Web without knowing a specific URL. But do you know how search engines work? And do you know what makes some search engines more effective than others? When people use the term search engine in relation to the Web, they are usually referring to the actual search forms that searches through databases of HTML documents, initially gathered by a robot. There are basically three types of search engines: Those that are powered by robots (called crawlers; ants or spiders) and those that are powered by human submissions; and those that are a hybrid of the two. Crawler-based search engines are those that use automated software agents (called crawlers) that visit a Web site, read the information on the actual site, read the site's meta tags and also follow the links that the site connects to performing indexing on all linked Web sites as well. The crawler returns all that information back to a central depository, where the data is indexed. The crawler will periodically return to the sites to check for any information that has changed. The frequency with which this happens is determined by the administrators of the search engine.
Human-powered search engines rely on humans to submit information that is subsequently indexed and catalogued. Only information that is submitted is put into the index.

In both cases, when you query a search engine to locate information, you're actually searching through the index that the search engine has created —you are not actually searching the Web. These indices are giant databases of information that is collected and stored and subsequently searched. This explains why sometimes a search on a commercial search engine, such as Yahoo! or Google, will return results that are, in fact, dead links. Since the search results are based on the index, if the index hasn't been updated since a Web page became invalid the search engine treats the page as still an active link even though it no longer is. It will remain that way until the index is updated. So why will the same search on different search engines produce different results? Part of the answer to that question is because not all indices are going to be exactly the same. It depends on what the spiders find or what the humans submitted. But more important, not every search engine uses the same algorithm to search through the indices. The algorithm is what the search engines use to determine the relevance of the information in the index to what the user is searching for. One of the elements that a search engine algorithm scans for is the frequency and location of keywords on a Web page. Those with higher frequency are typically considered more relevant. But search engine technology is becoming sophisticated in its attempt to discourage what is known as keyword stuffing, or spamdexing. Another common element that algorithms analyze is the way that pages link to other pages in the Web. By analyzing how pages link to each other, an engine can both determine what a page is about (if the keywords of the linked pages are similar to the keywords on the original page) and whether that page is considered "important" and deserving of a boost in ranking. Just as the technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated to ignore keyword stuffing, it is also becoming more savvy to Web masters who build artificial links into their sites in order to build an artificial ranking.

Related Links

Choose the Best Search Engine This table helps you select the best search tool to satisfy your information need, by posing potential questions and recommending specific resources that are the best matches.

Ending The Debate Over Cloaking Why people have traditionally cloaked, how XML feeds these days provide a form of approved cloaking and why the bigger issue to focus on isn't whether cloaking is allowed but instead whether paid content gets more liberal rules about acceptability.

Intro to Search Engine Optimization This article from Search Engine Watch describes the basics of how search engines work and how to increase search engine optimization.

Making Your Pages Easy for Search Engines to Index Achieving high rankings for Web sites on search engines has become a black art. An article from the Web Developer's Virtual Library.

Search Engine Blog This online marketing blog provides daily SEO news, resources and tactics regarding search engine optimization for the major search engines.

SEO and the Web Site Design Process This article from explains how to increase search engine optimization. Domain name registration, Web hosting, e-mail services, domain search, and SEO services.

How to Spot Search Engine Spam: Doorway Pages Is the search enginemarketing firm you're considering on the up-and-up? How to tell if it's spamming and if it's been nailed by the major search engines.

Invite Search Engine Spiders Into Your Dynamic Web Site Increase the traffic to your dynamic site by making your valuable content visible to search engine spiders.

Meta Refresh and Search Engines How the meta refresh tag can affect search engine results.

Optimization for Dynamic Web Sites With just a few quick selections by the user visiting your site, a page can be generated on the fly based on nothing more than the user's specific interest or request.

Search Engine Math Come learn how to easily add, subtract and multiply your way into better searches at your favorite search engine.

Search Engine Optimization Code of Ethics Most SEO practitioners understand these ethics, yet not all practitioners practice safe-SEO.

Search Engine Optimization Promotion Tools This page suggests ways to optimize and improve search engine results with ranking and promotion advice, hints, tips, and clues to improve your search engine keywords relative to existing leaders.

SEO Resources A list of Web sites that deal specifically with the issue of optimizing pages for search engines.

Web Site Cloaking and Search Engines Cloaking is where the page delivered to search engines is different from the one displayed to visitors. The purpose? To hide content from search engines. But should you use it?

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