The Internet has become the primary source of information for the majority of consumers. Keywords and phrases are typed into a search engine on a computer or mobile device, and a vast volume of related content is presented to the consumer. Once the results are displayed (in order), the user can click on any of the displayed links to visit any particular website or web page for the information needed.
Studies suggest that when using search engines, most people do not go beyond the listings mentioned on the first couple of pages of the search engine results list. It has been noted that ninety percent of all users do not look past the first thirty results. This means a high-ranking website has a much higher probability of getting traffic from search engines than a lower ranking website. Obtaining high rankings for relevant keywords and phrases in search engines is a critical factor in increasing traffic to the website.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves a number of activities and initiatives that businesses can implement to achieve high search engine rankings. Such activities address both on-page and off-page ranking factors that can impact a website’s or web page’s search engine rankings for specific search terms, resulting in a high placement in a search engine’s “organic,” or “natural,” or “unpaid” search results.
Types of Search Engines
Most search engines can be divided into two common groups:
1. Spider- or Crawler-Based Search Engines
This refers to an Internet-based tool that searches the index of documents or web pages for a particular term, phrase, or text specified by the user, and produces results that are collected, sorted, and automatically indexed based on a defined algorithm.
A software program known as a “robot,” “spider,” or “crawler” scans web pages, follows links between pages and sites, collects information about websites, and indexes this information. This index is a large database of all the websites the crawler has scanned. When a search is performed using a spider-based search engine, the results are provided based on the information in the search engine’s index. To rank high in search engine results, therefore, businesses need to optimize their websites and web pages to ensure that they are being properly indexed by the search engines. Several activities can be initiated in order to impact the information gathered and indexed by robots, spiders, or crawlers.
When a search is performed in a spider-based search engine, the results show both unpaid “organic” listings and paid listings (if any) for the keyword searched. Search engine optimization affects only organic search results. Paid or “sponsored” search results, are not impacted by SEO. Sponsored results are ads purchased through search engine services.
2. Human-Edited Web Directories
These directories are Internet search tools that search for information by subject categories. Rather than “robots” or “spiders,” which create directories automatically, human editors create these web directories. A short description along with the URL of the website is submitted to the directory for approval. The search directory then assigns the website to a category enabling the URL to display in search results for that category.
With web directories, the HTML page coding and content of the website often do not directly affect the listing. Directories often provide much more targeted results than spider-based search engines.
For SEO purposes, a website should be optimized to gain high ranking in spider-based search engines. However, listings of the website in human-edited web directories also help in the overall SEO ranking.
Benefits of SEO
As previously mentioned, search engine optimization is a critical component of digital marketing success for any business establishing a web presence. Research studies show there are numerous benefits to SEO. Among these are the following:
- Eighty-five percent of all traffic on the Internet is referred from a search engine.
- SEO is six times more effective than a banner ad.
- SEO delivers qualified leads.
- Fifty-five percent of online purchases are made on sites found through search engine listings.
- Many websites are not even indexed. If they are poorly optimized, they will be overlooked by search engines.
- Ninety percent of all users do not look past the first thirty results, and most only view the top ten.
- It is cost-effective marketing.
- It demonstrates clear and measurable ROI.
In addition to the Search engine activities various other activities such as Social Bookmarking, Photo and Video Sharing and Promotion, Search Engine Local Listings, Yellow Pages, Maps, Social Shopping Networks, and other activities help to increase the online reputation of a website leading to improved search engine listing.
It is also important to note that different search engines assign different weights to the various SEO activities. These change over time as new standards and formats are developed.
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