Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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Search Engine Optimization is the practice of driving more traffic to a site from search engines by attaining higher ranking on the search results. There are generally two kinds of means of doing this; Search Engine Marketing which entails paid advertisements and then Organic means or methods which are not paid for. While the organic methods do not involve payments in order to show when searches are run, it however requires a lot of effort and knowledge of search engine algorithms. This will ensure that the right tactics will be adopted and effectively used to drive the needed traffic.

The need to optimize web pages for search engines started in the 1990s and was a result of webmasters trying to get their webpages indexed by the early search engines of that period. The earliest algorithm used to get a page indexed was the Meta tags which generally provided a guide to the content contained on the site. However, site owners started to manipulate the Meta tags in order to get good ranking on search results irrespective of the fact that the content had no relationship to the search run. This constant manipulation meant that search engines had to develop more difficult algorithms which would encompass more metrics harder to circumvent by the webmasters. In 1998, Google was founded and offered an alternative by using its patented algorithm known as ‘pagerank’ which mainly considered the number and quality of inbound links on a site. Keyword density, site structure, links, headings and meta tags were also factors used by Google to rank pages on its searches but in spite of all these, unethical practices still continued as people got to know more about the indices. This has forced Google and Yahoo! which are the two top search engines to constantly alter their algorithms such that it remains unknown to most people.

The reality is that the higher up in a search result that a site shows, the more the probability that it will be visited as against registering on the second and subsequent pages. This need for higher ranking has also generated a category of professionals who are adept at the various techniques required to achieve the desired ranking. They are known as Search Engine Optimizers and can be hired to work within the organization or as consultants. The SEO process ideally ought to include the various kinds of searches such as image search, video search, news search and even local search.

Today, SEO has become imperative in building a site and then providing content for it. This is because every site has as a goal, the attraction of as much traffic as possible and although paid means are available, it is best used in conjunction with the organic means. Generally, pages that are indexed by Google and Yahoo! are gotten by crawlers. Some of the best ways to gain prominence on search results are the most straightforward such as providing content with the appropriate keyword density to attract the attention of the search engines without running against their policies regarding keyword spamming.

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