Search engines have two major functions: crawling and building an index, and providing search users with a ranked list of the websites they've determined are the most relevant.
Google and other search engines need a way to find the most relevant websites, so they use the best path available - links.
Links allow the search engines' automated robots, called "crawlers" or "spiders," to reach the many billions of interconnected documents on the web.
Once the engines find these pages, they decipher the code from them and store selected pieces in massive databases, to be recalled later when needed for a search query. To accomplish the monumental task of holding billions of pages that can be accessed in a fraction of a second, the search engine companies have constructed datacenters all over the world.
When a person performs a search at any of the major engines, they demand results instantaneously; even a one- or two-second delay can cause dissatisfaction, so the engines work hard to provide answers as fast as possible.
When a person performs an online search, the search engine scours its corpus of billions of documents and does two things: first, it returns only those results that are relevant or useful to the searcher's query; second, it ranks those results according to the popularity of the websites serving the information. It is both relevance and popularity that the process of SEO is meant to influence.
Popularity and relevance aren’t determined manually. Instead, the search engines employ algorithms to sort then to rank in order of quality.
These algorithms often comprise hundreds of variables. In SEO, we refer to them as “ranking factors.”
Google recommends the following to get better rankings in their search engine:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, a practice commonly referred to as "cloaking."
- Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
- Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content. Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
- Use keywords to create descriptive, human-friendly URLs. Provide one version of a URL to reach a document, using 301 redirects or the rel="canonical" attribute to address duplicate content.
Bing engineers at Microsoft recommend the following to get better rankings in their search engine:
- Ensure a clean, keyword rich URL structure is in place.
- Create keyword-rich content and match keywords to what users are searching for. Produce fresh content regularly.
- Don’t put the text that you want indexed inside images. For example, if you want your company name or address to be indexed, make sure it is not displayed inside a company logo.
In addition to this freely-given advice, we have found methods to extract information about how the search engines rank pages. We use that data to help clients achieve better positioning. We have come to understand many of the basic operations of search engines and the critical components of creating websites and pages that earn high rankings and significant inbound traffic.
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