The world of search engines

Search engines are designed to locate, sort, store and rank large amounts of information on the web. Algorithms created by the search engine designers are used to provide the most relevant and popular data first. Each search engine has its own set of algorithms and therefore returns different results. Once you get your web site operational you should consider few things, which will help your page to be on the top of the search results. Crawling, indexing and storing of relevant information are all common terms in the world of search engines and all are of influence how your site will be ranked.

Who is looking for you?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s look who are the main search engines. Who should you primarily focus on? It will come as no surprise, that Google is the dominant force in this market. It gets over 3.5 billion searches per day and leaves the competitors far behind. However, it was not the first to enter the market. This was an engine that was called Archie and it dates back to 1990. It indexed certain FTP archives that enabled people to find specific files. Later came MSN, Ask, Yahoo! and eventually Google in 1998 (officially this was called Backrub and dates back to 1995). With Google at the top, the other important engines are Baidu, Bing, Yahoo! Here is how the cake is divided:

Search engines popularity shown in a pie chart

What is SEO?

Just to be clear here, we are talking about organic search which is a normal search query into the search engine. There is a whole science with strategies and tips on how to get your page higher in search results, this is where we start talking about search engine optimization.

All activities related to increasing traffic to your site as a result of organic search in search engines, is the science of search engine optimization or simply SEO. This is sometimes seen as a bit of a cat and mouse game, since search engines change their algorithms now and then to make their search results more relevant. However, there are factors that don’t change and thus are still relevant. With almost 75% market share, Google is the dominant player. Thus most SEO tactics and strategies people undertake are focussed on getting higher in Google. Performing well in search engines will boost website traffic significantly. Therefore, it pays to invest in SEO.

Searching is a way of life

Often the first page to visit online is a search engine. It’s the number one activity on internet, searching for information. Browsing through search results has become part of our daily online routine, we probably don’t even think about it. But have you ever wondered how do they do it? It’s a true miracle how accurate search engines bring up search results. In a nutshell, search engines gather information from websites. This process is called crawling and is performed by their “crawler”. Next, it builds a list of relevant websites based on a certain algorithm. This algorithm matches all this data with your search query and the list is shown in your browser.

Find and be found

Optimization for your website is done in a variety of ways. Roughly SEO is divided into on-page SEO and off page SEO. 

On-page SEO

These are all the activities that you undertake on your own website to improve your search engine ranking. Think about placing keywords in your text and page, entering metadata in the description and page title. Structure your page in such a way that it makes it easy for search engines to crawl through. You can consider optimizing images on your page, link building through your website and blogging. But most important, you must publish quality and relevant content. You must become the authority in your niche, sharing knowledge and innovation with the reader. Search engines will notice this and start showing you on the top of their search results.

Off-page SEO

When on-page SEO is everything that happens on your site, off-page SEO is everything that happens outside your website. The goal is to become the authority on the topic. This is what your website is about. You can establish this by providing relevant and up to date information to your target audience. But how do you know if you are the authority? Backlinks! These are your URL links placed on other sites for their audience to read. Once your website is seen as the place where valuable data can be found, you will be noticed by other websites. These sites will use your content to inform their own audience and refer back to you by placing a link! These “backlinks” are one of the factors based on which search engines use to rank you higher and thus improve SEO. 

Stick to the rules

Sometimes people try to “trick” search engines by manipulating the system. Using too many keywords (keyword stuffing) or setting up fake links to their website that are supposed to be link building, are often done to accomplish this. Although this may sometimes work, search engines expect it and will soon figure it out that someone is trying to manipulate it. When it finds out, it will blacklist the site and ignore it completely. Trying to trick search engines is also called “black hat SEO”.  Google gives clear guidelines as to how to get higher in search rankings without abusing the system. This is called “white hat SEO”. Needless to say, it is always better to make a site that follows a white hat strategy, so do it!

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