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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Basics of Search Engine Optimization

Have an SEO question? It is probably answered in this article. If it isn't give us a call and we'll do our best to share our knowledge with you. I have an SEO question.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a foreign field to a lot of
people. Rarely does a day go by when I don't get asked a few
questions on the subject. So I've decided to post this FAQ
article in the hopes that it will help people understand the
basics, and make them a little more comfortable with the whole

Q: Why are Search Engines Important To Me?
A: 85% of all website traffic is driven by search engines. The
only online activity more popular than search is email. 79.2%
of US users don't go to page 2 of search results. 42% of users
click on the no.1 result. For the under-40 age-group, the
Internet will become the most used media in the next 2-3 years.

Q: How Do Search Engines Decide on Their Rankings?

A: IMPORTANT: You cannot pay a search engine in return for a
high ranking in the natural results. You can only get a high
ranking if your content is seen as relevant by the search
engines. Search engines identify relevant content for their
search results by sending out 'spiders' or 'robots' which
'crawl' (analyze) your site and 'index' (record) its details.
Complex algorithms are t employed to determine whether your
site is useful and should be included in the search engine's
search results.

Q: Can't I Just Pay for a High Ranking?
A: No. The biggest concern for search engine companies like
Google and Yahoo is finding content that will bring them more
traffic (and thus more advertising revenue). In other words,
their results must be relevant. Relevant results makes for a
good search engine; irrelevant results makes for a short-lived
search engine.

Most search engines these days return two types of results
whenever you click Search:

* Natural/Organic - The 'real' search results. The results that
most users are looking for and which take up most of the window.
For most searches, the search engine displays a long list of
links to sites with content which is related to the word you
searched for. These results are ranked according to how relevant
and important they are.

* Paid - Pure advertising. This is how the search engines make
their money. Advertisers pay the search engines to display their
ad whenever someone searches for a word which is related to
their product or service. These ads look similar to the natural
search results, but are normally labeled "Sponsored Links", and
normally take up a smaller portion of the window.

Q: How Do I Get a High Ranking?
A: There are four main steps:

Step 1 - Use the right words on your website.
Step 2 - Get lots of relevant sites to link to yours.
Step 3 - Use the right words in those links.
Step 4 - Have lots of content on your site & add more regularly.

Q: What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
A: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of creating a
website which is search engine-friendly. This means:

* Using the right words in your copy.
* Using the right words in your HTML code.
* Structuring your site properly.
* designing your site properly.

For more information on these 4 elements, download our free
SEO Secrets' eBook (

Many people use SEO to also describe the other ingredient in a
high ranking, 'Link Popularity'.

Q: What is Link Popularity?
A: Think of the search engines as a big election. All the
websites in the world are candidates. The links to your website
are votes. The more votes (links) a candidate (website) has, the
more important it is, and the higher its ranking. Link popularity
is all about how many links you have, and how you can get more.

Links to your site tell the search engines how important your
site is. They assume that if it's important enough for a lot of
other sites to link to, it's important enough for them to
display at the top of the rankings. Links are the single most
important factor in ranking. Generally speaking, the more links
you have to your site from other sites, the better your ranking.

Q: Are Some Links Better Than Others?
A: Yes! The ideal kind of links are those that:

* come from relevant sites (sites which use the same keywords);
* come from important sites (have a high ranking);
* include your keyword as part of the visible link text;
* include varying link text (not the same link text each time);
* come from a page that links to few other sites.

When a search engine sees a link which satisfies most or all of
these conditions, it says, "Hey, this site must be credible and
important, because others in the same industry are pointing to

Q: How Do I Get Lots of Links Back to My Site?
A: There are many possible ways to generate links. Some are
dubious (like auto-generation software, and sites set up by
webmasters simply to host links to their other sites) and I
won't be discussing them here. Others, like those discussed
below, are legitimate.

* Add your site to DMOZ & Yahoo Directories (and other free
* Check where your competitors' links are coming from
* Article PR - Write and submit articles for Internet publication
* Swap links
* Partner websites
* Pay for links

For more information on these methods, download our free SEO
Secrets' eBook (

Q: What Do You Think is the Best Way to Get Lots of links?
A: Article PR. Write helpful articles and let other webmasters
publish them for free in exchange for a link in the byline.
With article PR, you don't have to pay for the link, you
determine the content of the page containing the link, you
determine the link text, and the link is more or less permanent.
A single article can be reprinted hundreds of times, and each
time is another link back to your site!

For more information, read How to Top Google with Article PR
( or visit (

Q: How Do I Write a Good Article PR Piece?
A: See - How to Top Google with Article PR

Q: How Do I Get a High Ranking Using Free Reprint Content?
A: See - Get a top 10 ranking without paying a cent

Q: How Long Does It Take to Get a High Search Engine Ranking?
A: A long time! It's impossible to say how much time you'll
need to spend generating links, but you can be sure it'll be a
while no matter which method of link generation you use. You
just have to keep at it until you have achieved a high ranking.
Even then, you'll still need to dedicate some ongoing time to
the task, otherwise your ranking will drop.

Q: What is the Google Sandbox, and is It Real?
A: The Google Sandbox theory suggests that whenever Google
detects a new website, it withholds its rightful ranking for a
period while it determines whether your site is a genuine,
credible, long term site. It does this to discourage the
creation of SPAM websites (sites which serve no useful purpose
other than to boost the ranking of some other site).

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence supporting the theory, but
there is also a lot discounting it. No one has categorically
proven its existence.

Q: What is the Google Dampening Link Filter, and is It Real?

A: The Google Dampening Link Filter theory suggests that
if Google detects a sudden increase (i.e. many hundreds or
thousands) in the number of links back to your site, it may
sandbox them for a period (or in fact penalize you by lowering
your ranking or blacklisting your site altogether).

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence supporting the theory, but
there is also a lot discounting it. No one has categorically
proven its existence.

Q: What SEO companies Should I be Wary of?
A: Be wary of SEO companies that promise or guarantee results
in a given timeframe, especially if they won't expand on their
methods for generating links back to your site.

Q: What Tools Can You Recommend?
A: There are many very useful tools to help with your SEO. The
following are just selection. All tools are free unless otherwise

* Backlink checker
* Backlinks by IP address
* Link Popularity Tool
* Number of links required to rank
* Google Alert

* Google Sitemaps
* Google Sitemap Generator<
* Google Toolbar

* Indexed Pages
* Keyword Analysis (Nichebot)
* Keyword Analysis (Overture)
* Keyword Analysis (WordTracker - Paid)
* Keyword Difficulty
* Keyword Identifier
* Keyword Density Measurement (Simple)
* Keyword Density Measurement (Complex)
* Plagiarized Copy Search
* Traffic Rank
* Search Engine Rank
* SEO Report
* Top 10 sites for a keyword by no.
of backlinks and age

* Top 10 sites for a keyword
* Spider Simulator

Q: I'm Confused About All the Terms Used in SEO, Can You Help?
A: See our SEO Glossary

Q: What is Keyword Analysis?
A: The first thing you need to do when you begin chasing
a good search engine ranking is decide which words you want to
rank well for. This is called performing a keyword analysis.
Keyword analysis involves a bit of research and a good knowledge
of your business and the benefits you offer your customers.

Q: Do I need to submit my site to the search engines?
A: Theoretically, no. But I wouldn't risk not doing it -
especially as it's free. As soon as you register your domain
name, submit it to Google! Even if you haven't built your site,
or thought about your content, submit your domain name to
Google. In fact, even if you haven't fully articulated your
business plan and marketing plan, submit your domain name to

Q: Should I submit my site to the search engines more than once?
A: No need Although some of the search engines allow you to do
this, there's really no need.

Q: What are directories and should I submit my site to them?

A: Directories are websites (or web pages) which simply list
lots of websites and give a quick description of the website.
Some are free and some require you to pay for a listing. Free
directories are useful because you get a free link. However,
the links aren't worth that much. Paid directories can be good
if they're relevant, but they can cost a lot in the long term,
so choose wisely.

One essential directory for any website is the DMOZ Open
Directory Project (

Glenn Murray is an SEO copywriter (
and article submission specialist (
He is a director of article PR company Article PR
( and also of copywriting studio
Divine Write (

If you have more questions, please give Big Oak a call: 1-804-741-6776 or visit our web site at


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