To get top search engine ranking isn't hard, you just need a keyword or phrase that appears nowhere else on the Internet, such as "drowyekatem" or "magical pagerank incantation". To get the top page ranking for a hot keyword that lots of people are trying to dominate, not so easy.
- What is Search Engine Optimization?
- How Search Engines Work
- What is Page Placement?
- How Search Engines Rank Pages
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a term used to refer to the process of optimizing web pages or an entire website so that it is displayed as the first unpaid link on the first page of the search results for specific words and phrases (keywords, keyphrases).
InetDaemon.Com was constructed using best practices for web development, a course I teach here at InetDaemon.com. By utilizing good design and good processes, InetDaemon.Com is on the first page (and usually one of the first 5 links) for several dozen keywords and phrases at Google, Yahoo, MSN and elsewhere, and the site pulls in over 3 million hits per month.
Search engines 'crawl' over all the pages accessible on the World Wide Web and index them so that later searches can find information.
Search engines are complex pieces of software that start with a list of web sites and web pages they already know that have been submitted to them via the website submission forms, and proceed to search those pages for hyperlinks to other pages or other sites. As the search engine finds each site and each page on each site, it indexes all the URL's, title tags, meta tags and the words in the body of the page. The index contains the frequency of occurrence of each particular word or phrase within the page, and the relative proximity of various words to each other within the page. Once the search engine finishes indexing a page, it begins following all the hyperlinks in that page to other pages and begins the indexing process over again for each page.
All of the data and statistics are stored in a database for later retrieval when someone enters a search term in the search form at the search engine's website.
When you execute a search, the web crawler goes to its database and provides results of your search.
The first link on the first page of the search results page after you perform a search at one of the major search engines is said to be the #1 page rank. Obtaining this position in the search results is highly desireable because people tend to click the first link in the search results, or at least one of the results on the first page. Being in the first page of links is important if you want your website to be found because the vast majority of people never at anything but the first page of results.
Unfortunately, page rank is somewhat a function of a popularity contest. If people like your website and link their website to it, you get better search engine rankings. But uniqueness is a factor as well. If your website or page contains a word or phrase contained nowhere else on the Internet, you will come up in the #1 search position, the best page rank.
How Search Engines Place Pages
Every search engine has its own placement algorithm. Ideally, this is supposed to coincide with the relevance of the content of the site and it's pages to the keywords used in the search.
Some (but not all) of the factors that go into the decision include the following, in approximate order of importance.
- POPULARITY FACTOR
The more pages on other websites with similar keywords that point to your page, the higher the placement in the search engine results. There is very little you can do to control this, except buying a bunch of domain names and creating content that links back to a single site. Adding information to online Registries and Directories doesn't help because most of them use the 'nofollow' and robots.txt files to prevent search engines from following their links. Yes, just like in high school, it's a popularity contest and that determines whether you're on the first page or not.
- DOMAIN NAME
Ford Motor Company at "ford.com" is more likely to come up when searching for the keyword 'ford'. This is why domain name selection is important when you register your domain name.
- DIRECTORY NAME
The name of the parent directory containing the web file.
- FILE NAME
- URL PROXIMITY
The closer the keywords are to the domain name within the URL, and the more related the directory and file name are to the domain, the better it is ranked. Keywords closer to the domain and related to the domain are considered more relevant.
- DOMAIN NAME
- PAGE CONTENT
- HEADER TAGS <H1>
- META KEYWORD Tag
- META DESCRIPTION tag
- Keyword Frequency
- Keyword Proximity
Note that some of these things you can do something about, others, you cannot because they aren't part of your website and you can't control them. You have much less control over other websites that point to you than you do over the content and arrangement of your pages and your site.