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What is SEO (search engine optimisation)?

14 December, 2010

SEO or search engine optimisation is an Internet marketing strategy that involves how search engines work and what users search for online. It is the process of making your website or web page visible in search engines through organic or algorithmic search results.

The idea behind SEO is that the higher the ranking of a website or web page is in search engines, the more visible it is to visitors. Studies show that users then to only limit their visits to websites that appear in the first few pages of the search results. Hence, websites that want to attract traffic of good quality and quantity would strive to do SEO.

SEO may be used to target a variety of searches including image search and video search. All these searches give a website the so-called web presence. Those who practice SEO are called search engine optimisers.

There are different ways to optimise a website for search engines. Basically, it involves creating and editing content and HTML to increase their relevance to certain keywords and to allow smooth indexing by search engines. Another SEO strategy is to promote a website by increasing its number of backlinks or inbound links.

Content developers and web designers started to optimise websites for search engines in the mid-1990s when the first search engines began their cataloguing activities. The SEO method back then was simple: webmasters only needed to submit the address of a page or site (URL) to the different search engines. Then the search engines would send a “spider” to “crawl” that page or site and extract information from it. The information that the spider collects will then be fed to the “indexer” in the search engine’s server.

Today, there are newer methods to do SEO. As search engine protocols evolve, so do optimisation methods. Getting indexed is now more complex than before. Search engines guarantee crawling, indexing and ranking through paid and non-paid submissions. They likewise consider a number of factors when crawling a website. Meanwhile, webmasters can opt to prevent spiders from crawling some of its website’s pages, particularly those with poor content.

SEO methods may be classified into two: white hat and black hat. The former refers to techniques that search engine deemed to be part of good design. The latter, also called spamdexing, uses undesirable methods of link farming, keyword stuffing and article spinning, which harms the relevance of keywords and user-experience of search engines.

Search engines are actively looking for spamdexers so they can remove them from their indices. For a website to be search engine friendly, its design, menu, content, content management system, and other elements must be optimized for search engine visibility.

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