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Search Engine Optimization Process Overview

By: Sean Odom at Seopt

Submitted on Thu, Mar 15th, 2007 12:00 am

You may have recently begun to hear the phrase search engine optimization bandied about in discussion of search engines. Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your site “search engine friendly” so that search engines will be more likely to rank your site highly in search results. With so many millions of websites competing to be found via search engines, it is wise to make it as easy as possible for a search engine to recognize that your site is a valuable match.

Many people new to the world of search engines assume that there is a significant human aspect involved to search engine rankings. That is, they think that a team of people review websites and then ranks the website accordingly. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Search engines are purely automated things. Google indexes over 4 billion web pages. It would be impossible to employ enough people to categorize so many. Therefore, search engines have automated computer programs called “search engine spiders” that look at each website and determine under which search terms it should appear.

So what exactly is done during optimization to make a site more search engine friendly? The process is multifaceted, and not easily pinned down to one or two steps. Because of this, search engine optimization is often viewed as a vague, almost nebulous process, but its many aspects are actually well-defined. Search engine optimization is something that involves the entire website: its design, marketing strategy, copy, structure and popularity.

There are several steps that go into optimizing a website. Following is a brief overview only. It is not supposed to be a complete guide, but rather a general introduction to help newcomers understand the basic aspects of search engine optimization.

Keyword Analysis
First, you should determine which keywords you wish to optimize for. That is, when searching for your product or service, what search terms will your potential website visitors use? What words will they type into the search box? If you sell stuffed toys, will they type “stuffed toys” or “plush animals”? The phrase most often used could vary slightly but return quite different results, such as “used socks online” and “online used socks.” So you will really want to put yourself into the mind of your customer. Once you have decided which keywords to aim for, you will want to include these key phrases and terms in your content.

Website Content
The web is a text-based medium, and search engines do not see graphics. Think about it: How is a computer program supposed to tell the difference between a picture of Willie Nelson and field of daisies? It can’t. A computer program such as a search engine spider can only see and interpret text. So give them lots of it. Creating large websites with lots of great copy is one of the best ways to get ranked well in search engines. Not only do search engines appreciate the extra text, but people will be more likely to link to your site if it’s got depth and plenty of useful information.

Link Popularity
You can determine how popular you are by how many people would list you as a friend, and the same goes with websites. Search engines notice how many other sites have links to your site. This has unfortunately led to the rise of some “link farms,” sites with no real content, just lists and lists of links. Link farms are considered “spam” by search engines. On the Internet, “spam” does not mean “spiced ham” but rather “undesirable and annoying stuff,” which could describe the way some people think about spiced ham anyways. In any case, you do not want to be associated with a link farm or any sort of spam whatsoever because search engines don’t like it. So, don’t just link with anybody. Find some fellow, quality website that deals with similar content and see if you two can share links with each other.

Directory Registration
Once you have your site all pretty and optimized, you have to make sure search engines know you exist before you can hope to show up in their Top Ten ranking for your particular niche. As long as you have at least one quality link pointing to your site, search engines such as Google are more likely to pick up your site. To speed up the process, many people opt to submit their website to web directories.

Some directories allow you to pay for inclusion, such as Yahoo that charges a flat fee for the year. DMOZ is another important directory. Registration is free, but it can take a while to get listed. When registering to any directory, you want to adhere to their submission rules. Listings such as these will not only help searchers find you directly, but they will help with your link popularity as well.

Search engines such as Google do not offer pay for inclusion. You can, however, submit to Google which will add your website to a queue which Google maintains and periodically trolls electronically.

Now, keep in mind, being submitted to a search engine such will not automatically place your site in the top ten. This will merely include you somewhere in the results.

It should be noted is that there is a right way and a wrong way to do optimization, and if you or the company you hire does not follow the proper rules, your site could get in trouble. So, in order to make sure that everything is done correctly, you should know the proper processes involved. Do not allow any spamming, any connection to link farms, or any other shady dealings that you would feel uncomfortable explaining to your clients or to search engines. Remember, search engines, and more importantly your customers, are looking for useful content as the optimal result. So build your website with your visitors in mind, and it will be easier to succeed in your optimization as well.

About the Author

Sean Odom
Sean Odom runs a Houston based SEO Consulting firm specializing in search engine marketing and social media.

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