The Search Engines
A search engine is a directory that lists websites when a word or phrase (keyword) is searched; the order of the websites within the list is affected by various factors and the exact formula (algorithm) is not only kept secret by the search engines, it is also continuously evolving. Achieving a top search engine position is highly valuable and as such the search engines do not publish a manual, though most good search engine companies understand the different criteria that the search engines employ and use techniques to create an advantage for their clients.
Google is the most used search engine in the UK with some reports suggesting an 80% market share. The search engines that make up the difference include Yahoo, Bing and MSN. Being at the top of Google will deliver significant visitor numbers to a website and in competitive markets can make a website worth millions.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the process by which a website is marketed to achieve a higher natural listing on the search engines. Even though each search engine has different criteria by which they order websites, their goals are all the same, to provide the user with the most relevant result for the search they have made.
Trying to get ahead on the search engines is a complex and time consuming process, the search engines continuously modify their listing criteria and this can often result in significant position moves for websites that may have been stable for a long time. Understanding these changes and how to modify websites to retain positions is an ongoing process.
One key area of importance is the content of the website. The search engines all compare the search word to the content to determine the websites relevance. The content must be written naturally; the search algorithm can tell if a word is overused or out of place and this will affect the ranking. One of the most important factors is links from other websites into your own, and the value that the search engine places on a link is determined by a comparison of the linking site to your own. This comparison looks at many factors including the industry sector of the linking site and its relevance to yours, the quality score of the linking site and the position of the link within the site.
Achieving a high rank on the search engines can be worth significant value to a website and understanding how to get there is today considered to be a skill worth having.
Most website companies that offer search engine optimisation will offer a free website review to help you understand how your site is performing and its SEO potential, providing recommendations as to how you can use your website to attract more visitors and make you more money.
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