Search Engine Optimization

search engine optimization


Search engines are one of the primary ways that Internet users find Web sites. That’s why a Web site with good search engine listings may see a dramatic increase in traffic.


Everyone wants those good listings. Unfortunately, many Web sites appear poorly in search engine rankings or may not be listed at all because they fail to consider how search engines work.



In particular, submitting to search engines  is only part of the challenge of getting good search engine positioning. It’s also important to prepare a Web site through “search engine optimization.”


Search engine optimization means ensuring that your Web pages are accessible to search engines and are focused in ways that help improve the chances they will be found.


In fact, there are not any “search engine secrets” that will guarantee a top listing. But there are a number of small changes you can make to your site that can sometimes produce big results.


Let’s go forward and first explore the two major ways search engines get their listings; then you will see how search engine optimization can especially help with crawler-based search engines.


The term “search engine” is often used generically to describe both crawler-based search engines and human-powered directories. These two types of search engines gather their listings in radically different ways.


Crawler-Based Search Engines


Crawler-based search engines, such as Google, create their listings automatically. They “crawl” or “spider” the web, then people search through what they have found.


If you change your web pages, crawler-based search engines eventually find these changes, and that can affect how you are listed. Page titles, body copy and other elements all play a role.


Human-Powered Directories


A human-powered directory, such as the Open Directory, depends on humans for its listings. You submit a short description to the directory for your entire site, or editors write one for sites they review. A search looks for matches only in the descriptions submitted.


Changing your web pages has no effect on your listing. Things that are useful for improving a listing with a search engine have nothing to do with improving a listing in a directory. The only exception is that a good site, with good content, might be more likely to get reviewed for free than a poor site.


“Hybrid Search Engines” Or Mixed Results



In the web’s early days, it used to be that a search engine either presented crawler-based results or human-powered listings. Today, it extremely common for both types of results to be presented. Usually, a hybrid search engine will favor one type of listings over another. For example, MSN Search is more likely to present human-powered listings from LookSmart. However, it does also present crawler-based results (as provided by Inktomi), especially for more obscure queries.


The Parts Of A Crawler-Based Search Engine


Crawler-based search engines have three major elements. First is the spider, also called the crawler. The spider visits a web page, reads it, and then follows links to other pages within the site. This is what it means when someone refers to a site being “spidered” or “crawled.” The spider returns to the site on a regular basis, such as every month or two, to look for changes.


Everything the spider finds goes into the second part of the search engine, the index. The index, sometimes called the catalog, is like a giant book containing a copy of every web page that the spider finds. If a web page changes, then this book is updated with new information.


Sometimes it can take a while for new pages or changes that the spider finds to be added to the index. Thus, a web page may have been “spidered” but not yet “indexed.” Until it is indexed — added to the index — it is not available to those searching with the search engine.


Search engine software is the third part of a search engine. This is the program that sifts through the millions of pages recorded in the index to find matches to a search and rank them in order of what it believes is most relevant.


All crawler-based search engines have the basic parts described above, but there are differences in how these parts are tuned. That is why the same search on different search engines often produces different results.

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