Optimizing pages for search engines

Probably the second most commonly performed web activity is internet searching; emailing is the most commonly performed activity on the internet. Because internet searching is so common, websites are likely to get most of their traffic from search referrals than any other medium. Studies estimate that 80% of the website traffic comes from search engines. This website, for instance, gets around 60% to 68% of the traffic from search referrals. Given these statistics, it is convincing for website professionals to consider the significance of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is an important field to any modern business as it potentially may have the highest return on investment of promoting and marketing a website.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization is a process of maximizing search rankings and web directory listings. The process involves appropriate and relevant use of the followings: keywords, description, text content, and links. It is not difficult to find a website that promises to increase website rankings with their products or services they offer. Be cautious of using such products or services as their use may actually have your website banned from search engines or have negative impacts on your website rankings.

Effective SEO means adhering to best practices in different fields and cannot be achieved alone by the use of a single product or service. Although specialized commercial tools are available for serious search engine optimization, simply following search engine optimization guidelines is a great starting point for any website needing any search engine optimization attention. As an example of search engine guidelines, see Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

Why is it important to be in top search results on a search engine website? As mentioned before, search engines are important drivers in bringing more traffic to a website. Actually, search engines drive traffic to a website if it ends up in top search results. Interestingly, studies show that only about 7% of the searchers go beyond the third page of search results. So if your website is listed on page 4 or higher, chances of a searcher finding a website on such pages is very low. Keep in mind that as number of pages indexed by major search engines is increasing and has exceeded 10 billion, ranking within the top 30 results can only be achieved with patience and careful planning and execution of a decent search engine optimization strategy.

What factors are important to optimizing searches on search engines?

There are number of websites that are just devoted to the subject. Here we will discuss six fundamental factors that influence any successful search engine optimization effort:

  1. keywords — selection of relevant and correct keywords to a web page is probably the most critical aspect of search engine optimizing. When selecting keywords for a page, think about what words or phrases the searchers will be typing to search the page you are designing. As an example, relevant keywords for this page could be: search engine optimization, SEO, search engine optimizing, improving search results, search engines, etc. Examples of irrelevant keywords for this page will be cars, cell phones, books, weather, etc. Also, remember to keep the list of keywords short and avoid repeating words.
  2. title — many search engines consider the title of the page to be very significant in determining the search page rankings. Because of that, make sure to include important keyword(s) in the title of your web page. So appropriate title for this page is search engine optimization since that is the subject of this page. When deciding on the title of the page, make sure it is concise and appropriate for your webpage.
  3. description — page description is also an important parameter for determining search rankings of a page. The page description should also be concise and relevant to the web page. Think of the description as a short summary of the web page. Remember to include important keywords in your page description. An example of page description for this web page is: this page discusses search engine optimization and the general principles behind optimizing pages for search engines.
  4. text content — this is also probably the most determining factor of how a search engine will rate a web page. It does not matter how good your keywords, description, title, or links you have to a page if it does not have any content. Text content of the page is what determines what search phrases to use for keywords, what description to use, what title to select, etc. Having a lot of contextual content helps page ranking. Conversely, having no or irrelevant content hurts page rankings.
  5. links — incoming links to a webpage help increase the ranking of the web page. In principle, as more and more pages link to a particular webpage, the more significant the page becomes. Think of incoming links as votes. More votes a page has, the more chances the page has in increasing its search rankings. However, relevancy of the page casting the vote is probably more important than the quantity of the votes a single page receives. In other words, it is desirable to have 2 relevant websites link to this page than to have 500 irrelevant or inappropriate websites linking to this page.
  6. file names — the file name of the web page is also considered an important factor in determining the placement of a website within search results. Try to use a file name that is appropriate for the web page. Our advise is to use the page title as the file name, of course, without space characters. You may separate multiple words of a page file name with a hyphen (-) or underscore or horizontal bar (-). Appropriate file name for this page is search-engine-optimization.asp, for example.