What Is SEO And Why Does My Company Need It?
SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of optimizing a website by improving it, both internally and externally, in order to increase the natural rankings that the website receives from search engines. Most of the traffic that a website receives (around 62%) is from search engines. If your site is not found on the search engine result pages when people are searching for your products or services, then you're missing out on a lot of new traffic and customers that you could be getting by having an active SEO campaign.
Search engines are always working towards improving the way they crawl, index, and provide relevant results to users who are searching for keyphrases. However, there will always be a limit to how search engines can operate, since they are automated. By knowing this and studying what search engines are using as factors to rank websites (the search engine's algorithm), it is possible to manipulate and influence the way that a search engine views and eventually ranks your website for the keyphrases that you are targeting.
In order to better explain SEO, you have to have a basic understanding of the World Wide Web and search engines. Here's a brief history lesson to help you better understand how it all works.
The Beginning of the World Wide Web
Tim Berners-Lee, a physicist from CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) had a dream of connecting personal computers via the Internet to share information and research. Robert Cailliau, a systems engineer, teamed up with Berners-Lee and they began working on the project, which they named the WorldWideWeb. They created the first ever web page in 1991 and began sending out server and browser software so people could access their web page and also create their own web pages. By November of 1992 there were 26 web servers in the world and more and more web pages were popping up daily.
The Evolution of the Search Engine
At first, Berners-Lee created and edited a list of webservers with links (here's a historical snapshot of the the list). With the growth of the World Wide Web, it was impossible to continue indexing all of the servers and pages manually, so a tool for searching the web (Archie) was created by Alan Emtage. This tool was a searchable database that indexed web pages by file names. From Archie, came Gopher which led to two more search tools (Veronica and Jughead). The search tools began getting more advanced, but were still edited manually.
In 1993, Matthew Gray produced the first ever web "robot" which was named "the World Wide Web Wanderer". He used the robot to generate an index called "Wandex". The first ever search engine, Aliweb, appeared in November of 1993 but did not use the web robot it was dependant upon the website administrators to inform it of the existence of new pages.
In Decmber of 1993, the first "modern" search engine, JumpStation, was released. JumpStation used all 3 features (crawling, indexing and searching). After JumpStation, other search engines started to improve the way that search engines worked. WebCrawler, which came out in 1994, became the most popular because you could search for any word on any webpage - not just file names and titles. Many other companies such as Inktomi, Excite, AltaVista and Yahoo! released search engines and vied for popularity.
In 1996, the Netscape web browser began rotating 5 search engines on their page (Yahoo!, Magellan, Lycos, Infoseek and Excite.) The search engines were the most popular pages on the Internet until the dot-com bubble (a specualtion-drive market boom that peaked in 1999 and ended in 2001). In the middle of the this, the Google search engine rose to prominece. The smaller search engines began buying each other out to compete with Google.
Since then, it's been a 3-way race between Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft. In August of 2007, Nielsen NetRatings showed Google at 53.6%, Yahoo at 19.9% and Microsoft at 12.9%. Everybody else combined for just 13.6%, but many of these other search engines, such as AOL, were powered by Google results. In 2009, Microsoft rebranded their search as Bing, and struck a deal to provide search results for Yahoo!
How a Search Engine Works
- Crawling the Web
Search engines send out automated programs, called "robots" or "spiders", to travel the World Wide Web and crawl the pages and documents.
- Indexing What They Find
Once a website has been crawled, it's content is stored, or indexed, in a giant database.
- Processing Keyphrase Queries
When a user searches for a term (keyphrase) on a search engine, the search engine retrieves a list of web pages that mention that term from it's database.
- Sorting (Ranking) Results
Once the search engine finds all of the matching web pages, it applies it's algorithm to the results and displays the websites in order of the most relevant to the searched term. Every search engine has a different algorithm, which explains why they provide different results for the same searches.
There are very good resources on the internet to help you do your own search engine optimization, but unless you're willing to read and study the changes in the industry, your website will not be able to maintain their rankings over a long period of time in any competitive market. That is where I can help. Instead of hiring and paying an employee to study and read blogs for 30 hours a week, you can just pay me for the actual time that I spend making changes and updates to your website. With many other customers, I'm keeping up with the industry already, and applying what I learn to every website that I work on.
Our pricing is based on the amount of competition for the keywords that you are targeting. For instance, if you are local and are trying to rank your website for "Cincinnati Apartments" then it is going to be a lot less than if you are trying to just rank for "Apartments". You are invoiced monthly and there are no contracts, so if you're not happy then you can stop at any time. To find out more about how our pricing works, give me a call today at 513-532-2346 and we can discuss your individual needs and I will provide you with a free quote.