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How search engine Optimisation works - A Beginners GuideSearch engine optimisation guide

The following guide explains the basics on how the major search engines go about ranking your website for various search terms. From the basics on how a 'Bot' / 'Spider' works, to a basic guide on what they're looking for to rank your website highly in their search results. This SEO guide has been designed to give even a complete website novice some insight in to the way search engines rank a websites for search terms on the World Wide Web.

So what is a Search Engine 'Bot' or 'Spider'?

All websites are evaluated by programs designed by the search engines called 'Bots' or 'Spiders'.

The search engine 'Bot' / 'Spider' is a program that scans, indexes and evaluates your websites content.

All the major search engines have 'Bots' / 'Spiders' that are constantly crawling the World Wide Web. Each search engine has a large number of these 'Bots' that don't ever stop indexing websites.

>> Did you know there are over 1.2 billion websites on the World Wide Web with over 4.56 billion pages (correct data March 2015)<<

How does the 'Bot' / 'Spider' know the website is there?

Once you have had your website built, your web master / Web builder will create a Sitemap and submit this to the major search engines. The sitemap tells the search engine how the website is structured and what the page URL's (web addresses) are.

How often does the 'Bot' / 'Spider' crawl the website?

Your webmaster can ask for your website to be crawled. After this the 'Bot' / 'Spider' will crawl your website on a cycle. Your website will be crawled more often if you have more inbound links from other websites and social media back to your own. This is due to the 'Bots' / 'Spiders' following all links that it finds within website pages.

What does it mean when Google announce a new 'Bot' / 'Spider'?

This is done periodically to update the 'Bots' / 'Spiders' parameters and algorithms. The purpose of this is to refine the search results, so that the top website listings displayed are exactly what the browser is searching for.

What does the 'Bot / 'Spider' do with the information it gathers?

All the information that is gathered from the billions of pages are deciphered and selected data is stored in monstrous data storgare facilities. This information is used when a web browser enters a search query. The processing power of these data centres are massive to ensure an instantaneous response being displayed to the browser.

The sites that the search engine displays are based on a variety of factors as explained in later chapters.

What are 'Meta Data' and 'Meta Keywords'?

'Meta Data' and 'Meta Keywords' are information added to each of the website pages code. This information was a high ranking factor for search engines as it was supposed to let the search engines know what was displayed on each website page. With website authors using 'Black Hat' SEO techniques to increase websites ranking, the search engines got wise and now compare the information input to the visible website content.

"Meta Data" - This is a short description of the content that is displayed on that particualr web page. This information is also displyed in the serach results, below the search result listing heading.

"Meta Keywords" - This is a list of relevant keywords that relates to the content within the corresponding website page. This information is entered purely for the 'Bots / 'Spiders' and is not shown to the web browser.

Factors that make your website rank well

The following explains what will help your website rank well in search engines and explains how this can be compared with some every day situations. This is remember a basic guide, the overall factors are broken down into further weight and importance on how each unique factor effects your search engine position. We ALWAYS recommend you seek the expertise of a reputable Search Engine Optimisation company for the best results.

Website speedwebsite speed

It is important to have your website content optimised, so that it is the smallest possible overall size with the fastest load times. Your website speed can effect your overall ranking, due to the search engines want the browser to have the best possible experience without llong load times.

Website content

content is kingThe way in which your content is structured and the type of content it contains all counts towards your ranking. For example if you input the search term "Ferrari", the search engine doesn't know exactly what you're looking for. So the best thing to do is show you the website with the most bases covered content wise. You could be looking for photos of Ferrari's, you could be looking for information on Ferrari's (text) or you could be looking for videos of Ferrari's. If your website has all three types of content, you tick all three boxes in that department.

How that content is structured with regards to percentages of the content that relate to Ferrari or contain the word Ferrari is then down to the 'Bots' or Spiders' algorithms. This is where the Search Engine Optimisation company really earn their money!

Website Linkswebsite links

There are two types of website links back to your website, 'follow' and 'no follow' links. With all links, depending in what content the link is placed and the phrases used for the link, will determine which search phrase it will help you for.

Have you ever noticed how if you search for 'click here', Adobe PDF reader is high in the search results! This is becasue the amount of websites that carry the text "You will need Adobe PDF to view these files 'click here' to download" with 'click here' as the link to the Adobe page.

Links back to your website are all calculated by the Search Engine algorithms, how you structure your inbound links wrongly could also damage your website search result rankings.

Follow links

With well structured and interesting content, you will get other website authors automatically linking to your website. A follow link means that the page rank of the website that is linking to you, influences your own page rank. This carries more weight than a 'no follow' link.

No-follow links

The 'Bots' / 'Spiders' still follow the link to your website, but the page rank of the website has no influence. This is due to the link being placed there by a third party, such as on a forum site where a member has commented.

Website social links

Social links are seen as social recommendations, who's talking about your business. The more people that are linking to your website, then the more popular the search engines believe your website must be, in turn influencing your website ranking.

Website Page RankPage rank

All websites have a page rank between 0 and 10. The higher the page rank, the more respected your website is by the search engines. Your website, if well optimised would more than likely rank above another site optimised as well, but with a lower page rank.

Age of website content

Have you ever noticed that if you put in a technical question into the search engines, quite often a forum site will show first? This is because forum sites information is changing on a daily basis around the subject you're searching for. The search engines believe this to be good information to show, as it must be current information to the question asked. Also don't forget forums usually have a high amount of unique traffic on a daily basis.

Age of website

A website that has been established over a period of time, if structured well will generally show above a newly registered website. This is not a major ranking factor, but it is a factor.

Website Traffic

The more traffic your website has, the better a website it must be, is basically how search engines see it. Here's a scenario for you, have you ever been on holiday and went to go to a restaurant where there's 3 to choose from, but one is busier than the rest? Which one do you want to go in and think is best? You automatically think the busy one is a better restaurant, after all that's why everyone is in there. This is basically how this element is considered with the web.

The above explanations are the basics on how the ranking system works. We wanted to put this up for our clients and browsers, so you may get a basic understanding of Search Engine Optimisation and how it works. We hate baffling people with jargon and believe clients should know why they need SEO, what it is doing for them and why it works.

What are 'Black Hat' and 'White Hat' SEO techniques?

You've probably heard people talk about 'White Hat' and 'Black Hat' SEO techniques. The following paragraphs explain why and you should always use 'White Hat' SEO techniques, as the search engine 'Bots' / 'Spiders' are getting more advanced and able to spot bad SEO practices.

Black Hat SEO techniques

Black Hat SEO techniques can seriously damage your websites rankings, especially with the more advanced algorithms usedby search engines to weed out websites that use such practices.

Hidden Content - This can be text embeded in the page which is not visible to the browser in an attempt to get the website up for those keywords.

Meta Keyword stuffing - Every website has a 'Meta description' and 'Meta Keywords' which informs the website what information it contains. Misusing these with an abundance of words can harm your search results.

Doorway / Gateway Pages - These are basically fake pages stuffed with content that the end user will never see and are purely for the search engines. Using these pages could flag your website as Spam and a possible ban from the search results.

Link Farming - These are websites which promise to link your site on hundreds of other sites that have nothing to do with your business genre. Using these methods could see your site getting banned from search results for participating.

White Hat SEO techniques

White Hat SEO techniques are the best way to see your website move up the search engines rankings without the fear of any penalties.

Content is king - As described earlier in the article, the search engines primary objective is to show the browser the most complete information available.

Website Structure - Having the correct website structure with regards to coding and correct use of headers will help with your ranking.

Titles & Meta Data - Make sure your web pages have the correct titles and meta data. Make sure this information is a true representation of what content is on the page it's displaying.

Keyword Research and usage - Researching into what phrases the search engine users are actually typing in to find your business genre, then structuring the website content around those phrases.

Good Quality inbound links - As explained earlier in the article, there are two types of links. Making sure any of these links are on websites and pages with relevant content is essential to help with your search engine ranking.

Factors that can harm your website rank

As explained in the 'Black Hat' SEO techniques, there are several SEO no no's that can harm and even stop your website from showing in search engines. The following factors also can be detremental to your ranking.

Broken links - Make sure you have no links to web pages that aren't on your website any more.

Slow load speeds - This can be caused by large images or bad code, ensure you website loads as quickly as possible.

Plagurism - Copying content from another website to add content to your own will damage your website rank.

Bad code - Html errors can be a sign of a poor quality site to the search engines. This could mean that the site doesn't display properly on various devices, so the search engines could demote your ranking in the results.

Not mobile friendly - If your website is not optmised to display on mobile devices, this can cause your site to rank lower when searches are performed on such devices.

We hope the above article goes some way to help you understand how the search engines deecide to rank your website. Below are some further links with more information.

Google ranking factors