Search Engine Strategy Basics
The first goal of any search engine optimization strategy is to get your web pages indexed. But even before that can happen, you need to get the search engine crawlers to visit your website.
Depending on the search engine or directory and the overall circumstances (how you invite and solicit crawlers), that first visit could take days, weeks, or even months.
And while it’s true that the initial crawler visits can be somewhat unpredictable (or take a long time in coming), once the ice is broken, future visits can be controlled to some degree…
Basically, the more frequently you update your pages, the more frequently the crawlers will show up on your website doorstep.
Of course, that’s only half the battle. The other half is getting the search engines and directories to actually index your pages.
In order to do that, you need to start at the beginning. And the beginning in this particular instance is developing and enhancing pages in such a way that the search engine crawlers will be impressed.
The overall search process is simple…
All the text content that search engine crawlers gather is stored and indexed. People conduct searches based on certain phrases (keywords). Whatever content possesses the most relevancy with regard to any given keyword will be placed in the top positions of the search results.
And since the title of the page and the text content generally carry the most weight – at least with regard to what search engine crawlers deem most relevant during their visits – it stands to reason that improvement in page rank and/or search results listing can most often be attributed to having individual and specific keywords properly incorporated into those two prime areas.
Of course, if keywords were the only basis for which page rank and position in search results were determined, optimizing web pages would be pretty much cut and dried…
- pick a keyword > use it in your title and throughout your content >
- achieve high page rank and top position in search engine results
The problem is, there are so many variables that not only come into play but change on a regular basis, it can seem as though achieving solid and effective search engine optimization might never be possible.
Fortunately, it’s not only possible, it can be relatively painless as well. All you have to do is satisfy the top three requirements of pretty much all major search engines…
- provide quality content
- update content on a regular basis
- get numerous top-ranking websites to link back to your site
And the search engines and directories you should be trying to impress the most are the top four contenders…
Google – http://www.google.com
Yahoo – http://www.yahoo.com
MSN Search – http://search.msn.com
DMOZ (Open Directory) – http://dmoz.org
Beyond that, there are countless other search engines and directories like AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, and AllTheWeb.
Should you optimize for those as well, or simply level your sites on the major players and bypass all the search engines and directories below them? Not necessarily. You still want your pages listed in as many locations as possible. You just shouldn’t try to satisfy every one of them with regard to optimization.
Satisfy the top four contenders. Then, if you have the time and ambition to broaden the scope of your SEO efforts, do it. If not, don’t worry about the hundreds (or even thousands) of other search engines and directories that exist.
You’re only human. And just meeting the optimization criteria of the top four is going to be challenging and energetic enough.
Of course, unless you plan to make search engine optimization your life‘s work, it’s not likely you’ll invest most of your energy in that one single area (even when restricted to the top four players). But you do need to invest a fair amount of quality effort.
And that basically equates to these two missions…
- Get your pages indexed by major search engines.
- Improve your page rank and position in search results.
In order to accomplish both of those, you need to carefully balance the line between good optimization techniques and the urge to take things a bit too far.
In other words, you need to make certain you carry out your two missions without stepping over the line into what’s commonly referred to as “black hat” search engine tactics.
That dark and evil territory would include things like…
- Keyword Stuffing – repeating keywords over and over again for no logical or practical reason
- Hidden Content – including keywords or text that’s the same color as the background for the purpose of manipulating search engine crawlers
- Doorway Pages – not intended for viewers to see but rather to trick search engines into placing the website into a higher index position
Although these types of practices were once considered intelligent and effective methods of optimization, they can now result in having your website banned from search engines entirely.
In general, it’s better to concentrate on the most popular and most reasonable optimization techniques. By doing that, you’ll not only achieve the results you’re looking for, your efforts will have long lasting results.
And when you consider how much work is involved in getting any website to the top of search engine rank and position, it’s worth whatever effort it takes to get it right the first time.