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In SEO: Search Engine Optimization Getting Started, author Jill Whalen explains the importance of site rankings and why search engine optimization is necessary for increasing web site traffic. The course covers choosing the best keywords, performing keyword research, augmenting keywords with search-friendly site architecture, creating social media networking strategies, and measuring the success of an SEO campaign.
When learning SEO, it's much easier and clearer if you understand the whys behind the techniques. To help understand the whys, you have to know a bit about how search engines work. In very simplistic terms, there are two main components to the search engines, the crawler and the algorithm. The crawler, which is sometimes referred to as a spider or a robot or simply just a bot, is what goes out on the web and fetches the info. The algorithm is basically the ranking formula that each search engine uses to determine the relevancy of any page that the spider finds.
Basically, what happens is that the crawler follows links, gathers info, and adds that info into their database, or in other words, they find pages, read what's on them, and index that info into their database. If you simply remember that they find, read, and index, you'll get the gist of things. As you can imagine, since crawlers are just little robots, there will always be technical issues that affect whether they can find, read, or index your pages correctly. So it's important to design your pages in such a way as to make it as easy as possible for them to do their job.
The search engines use an algorithm or algo to decide what pages to show for which keyword phrases. While it's sort of a formula, it's not something you can reverse-engineer. The search engines look at hundreds of factors and weigh them all differently. The search engines have moved way past the days when you could use any sort of automated SEO software and be able to get rankings, which is why I never recommend even trying software like that. In essence, the hundreds of factors that go into the relevancy algorithm boil down to two major things: what you say about yourself and what others say about you.
What you say about yourself on the page is basically the words or the copy that you write. The Internet is mostly a word-based medium. And every single page has a story to tell. Each page's story helps the search engine to understand what it should be considered relevant for. What others say about your site or company is also called the off-page criteria. It's typically done through links. That is, another site owner likes what you have to say in your site, so they want to tell their own site visitors about it.
They do this by linking to your site or a specific page on your site. The search engines take these into account, because it can be more trustworthy to them than using only what you say about your own site. Given how search engines work and what they are looking for, what search engine optimization or SEO does for you is help you to steer clear of any technical issues that can impede the crawler from finding, reading, and indexing the pages of your website. And it helps you create pages that conform to the search engine's algorithms by making sure your site is relevant to what people are looking for, and interesting or unique enough for other people to link to it.
SEO will help your audience find your website. Unfortunately, neither the search engine's crawling ability nor the relevancy algorithms are perfect. So the easier you make it for them to do their job, the better chance you'll have of showing up for relevant searches, which means you want to bake your SEO work into your web site from the beginning. You're going to need lots of upfront research on keywords and other elements which is best done before you develop your web site.
You'll also need to avoid or fix any technical issues that might impede crawling, plus you can make sure that your content is written to appeal to both your users and the search engines. While all of this can be done later, you'll save yourself tons of time if you plan your SEO right from the start.
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