Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is, simply, the process of making sure your web page is found in the search results when people type in one or more key phrases.

If your web page is about home improvement plumbing, you’d probably like it to show up in Google when someone types the phrase “home improvement plumbing.” Simple.

Note please that I said “web page” not “website.” Pages are ranked individually in the search results in Google and other search engines.
Pages can be submitted to search engines of course, but that always smells a little desperate. If a page is worth looking at, the likelihood is that somewhere on the web there is a link to it. It’s called the web for a reason.

So search engines like Google prefer, it seems, to find a new page by “clicking on” a link to it. Furthermore, the more links a search engine finds a particular page, the more its likely to believe that that page is worth referring searchers to.

We can go further. If lots of the links have the clickable text “home improvement plumbing” search engines might surmise that the web page is about this subject. Of course Search Engine Optimisers (SEOs) – people who specialize in getting your pages to the top of search engines – have known this for a while. Many have abused it. If every link to the page – let’s imagine there were dozens or hundreds – said “home improvement plumbing” a search engine might “smell a rat.” It’s not natural. In the real world links to this page might say several things like “click here,” “plumbing information,” “frozen pipes” and so on.

So yes you must have links to your new page. The more, the merrier. But they must say different things to avoid looking contrived. Furthermore, if you add them all in a week, that sounds contrived too. So add them over a period. “Organically” is the phrase people seem to like. Make it look natural.

Of course, if the content on the page is so blindingly good that webmasters want to link to it, it will be natural, er, naturally.

Links are good. Links with relevant but varied link text are excellent. Links from relevant *sites* are better. What’s more likely to show the search engines that your page is highly relevant to the term “home improvement plumbing?” A link from “Bob’s web directory,” a link from my blog or a link from the plumbing section of About.com or Wikipedia?

Again, we can go over the top and acquire (beg, barter or buy,) links from lots of big industry-related sites while eschewing peoples’ Blogs and Bob’s web directory. That’s unnatural too and may set the old alarm bells ringing. A “normal” site gets links from all over the shop – some relevant, some not. Mirror that model. Again, keep it “natural.”

All this link lark is what professional SEOs call “off-page optimization.” Obviously, the work is done “off” the page that you’re optimizing, and that’s simply why it called that.

The other side of the seo techniques is on page optimization. This is where you change things on the page you are optimizing to make it more “appealing” to the search engines. As always, you can overcook, and hence burn, this. (Remember the pages ten years ago that were covered in words “Britney Spears” and “MP3s”? Where are they now?)

A web page genuinely about “home improvement plumbing” will contain lots of words like:

pipes
wrench
solder
copper tube
leak
boiler

Conversely, it probably won’t contain a load of references to lung diseases, libido enhancers or
loans.