Search engine optimization is the practice of strategizing web content so that the visibility of the content is improved in search engine results.
Typically, the higher and more frequently your content appears in search results, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users.
SEO is an internet marketing strategy that takes many different things into consideration. Not only does it consider how search engines themselves work, but there is also a great emphasis placed on what people search for and the terms they use when conducting their searches.
This section will not go into deep detail regarding SEO, which can be a complex and highly technical discussion. Instead, we'll focus a little on how search engines work and measures you can take on your own site to help make your content more search engine friendly.
The World Wide Web contains hundreds of millions of Web pages. How in the world is it that we can enter a few words in a search box and get a list of items that are even close to what we want?
The answer is a little creepy. Spiders do the work.
Search engine spiders are special programs that specifically build and maintain lists of the words found on Web sites. When a spider is building its lists, this process is known as crawling the Web. To provide us with the seemingly endless answers to the questions we put into the search engine of our choice, these little robots, or bots, have to look at a lot of pages.
Spiders work by starting at lists of heavily used servers and Web pages and following the hyperlinks that are on those pages. Different search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, use different spiders, but some elements of all web pages are looked at and remembered by all spiders. Information such as the title of a web page, sub-titles or headings on body content, and various metadata such as keywords and alternate text on images are good data that a spider will consume.
There exists quite a bit of variation in the extra information that is gathered, above and beyond the standard metadata, and the way the different spiders from the various search engines compile their information. These methods are generally proprietary. In all cases, though, the information is gathered, weighted according to the standards of the search engine, and then encoded to compress a large amount of data into a small amount of space.
After compression, the information is then indexed. Indexing serves the sole purpose of making data retrieval fast and efficient.
After that, it's up to us, the users, to build a query in a search engine. A query can be simple, such as one word, it can contain a phrase, or the user can usually even elect to use Advanced search features such as Boolean operators that allow a user to filter information based on the operators "And", "Or", and "Not".
In the following sections we'll take a look at some points you will want to consider while creating and publishing your content to the Web. With a few simple adjustments, you can increase the exposure of your publication.