Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short – we’ve heard of the buzzword before, but what exactly is it? And why are people willing to pay good money for SEO services? Well, as it turns out, SEO is a magic spell that makes your website jump out on everybody’s search results… or does it?…
Short History of the World Wide Web and Who’s On It
The internet actually started as the ARPANET, way back in the 1950’s as an academic project. But the internet that we know of today only started taking the foothold in the early 1990’s, where websites were few, and were mainly text based. It wasn’t until the dot.com boom in the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s that internet usage boomed. All of a sudden, cyberspace wasn’t just a playground for the academicians only. It was a playground for the masses. Everybody wants a piece of the World Wide Web action. It’s like the California Gold Rush of the mid 19th century all over again.
People started casually visiting the World Wide Web (from now on simply called the web), randomly hopping from one site to the next. And businesses suddenly realised the potential goldmine for media space there. Before long, businesses started claiming stakes on the web by planting their proverbial flag on the newly discovered land (i.e. their corporate website). And the early adopters were enjoying throngs of visitor traffic on a regular basis.
By the early 2010’s, the web was congested with traffic, from both casual visitors as well as permanent residents. And businesses are now starting to feel claustrophobic. Websites from legitimate businesses, personal blogs, and even cybersquatters, were filling up the directories faster than anybody could list them. So how does one even start looking for something specific on the web?…
Enter The Search Engines
It wasn’t long before cyber-residents start to balloon up, and cyber-visitors needed directions to their cyber-destinations. A cyber-information-counter, or a cyber-map of the web. But with so much information listed there due to the humongous number of websites that existed, you really needed to know exactly what you’re looking for.
That’s where several whiz-kids from different universities independently started to map out the web. They presented out a search result when you key in your search criteria on their search page. And with that, the search engine was born.
Of course, there were several search engines in the early days, all using different algorithms to arrive at the search results. But one of them evolved into the search giant today that we all know very well – Google.
Search engines becomes one of the most important places to stop over in one’s journey on the web. We’re not gonna discuss how the search engine’s algorithm works, but suffice to mention that they search for certain parameters in each and every individual webpage of every website.
How to Get Noticed by Search Engines?
So how does one gets the attention of the search engines? Is there even a way to attract the attention of the search engines? It turns out there there are ways to attract search engines. Most search engines “crawls” the whole web using “bots”, gathering vital information from each individual webpage. And all these information is then catalogued and stored away in the database.
When a visitor keys in the keyword in the search field of the search engine, the request is then compared against the database. A list of the result is then presented to the visitor, ranked from the most probable to the least probable. The higher the probability based on the search keywords, the higher up the result page one’s webpage is presented.
That’s nice and all, but the page from your website is listed as hit number 1,437,379 on the result page… I mean, not many people will want to scroll down to the bottom of the first result page, let alone go past the second page… What if you want to jump the queue?… What if you want to be listed up there on the top-ten results?… Is there a way to do that?
As it turns out, there actually is a way to beat the system… Well, maybe not beat the system, but tweak your website to make it more visible to the bots. You can make changes to your website to attract more of the search engine’s crawling bots. The more they crawl on your website, the higher the chances of the database pointing towards your website. You can optimise your website so that it attracts bots visit. Hence the term Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.
What’s SEO and How Does It Work?
SEO is a series of tweaks, designed to attract bots to crawl onto your website. Search engines’ results are nothing more than a game of statistics. The more the often bots crawls on your website, the higher the probability your website’s presence in the database. And the higher the probability of your presence on the database, the higher the changes of your webpage be listed high enough on the results page to be visible.
So what are the tweaks needed to make it more bot friendly? Well, below are some tips that you can apply :-
(1) Regular Publication of Fresh Contents
Bots love fresh contents. Just think of the bots as domestic cats, patrolling their neighbourhood (territory). Whenever a neighbour adds something new to their house, the cat will go and investigate it. So if that neighbour keeps adding new features to their garden, driveway, walkway, window, etc., you can bet the cats of the neighbourhood will visit there more often. Now don’t mistaken fresh contents with revamping your whole website every few months. Have you ever seen any cats visiting a house that’s constantly under major renovation?…
(2) High Visitor Traffic
Bots also love websites that have high visitor traffic. If humans are frequenting a particular website, then there must be something attractive on the website. The same analogy above, cats will naturally be curious if strangers keep frequenting a particular neighbour’s house… All the new smell, all the new sight, and the probability of meeting some random stranger who might drop food crumbs along the way… Yes, bots are like curious domestic cats.
(3) Cross Links With Other Websites
The more links you have with external sites, the more “doors” you have linking those websites to yours. And the more “doors” you have, the higher the probability of having cross visitors (i.e. inviting other website’s visitors to your own website). Hence the more cross links you have with popular websites, the more popular your website will be perceived. It’s just like back in school. If you hang around more often with the popular kids in school, others will perceive that you also are popular yourself.
(4) SEO Techniques is Like Running a Marathon, Not Sprint
Most important of all, applying the SEO techniques to your website is a long-term investment. It’s not like paying somebody to mow your lawn once every other month, and then forget all about it once it’s nice and trim. Instead, it’s more like sculpting your hedges every weekend, so that it constantly looks attractive to the people passing by your garden. In short, you have to take ownership to your web presence. You can hire a gardener to help you with caring for your garden, but you can’t expect the gardener to run your whole garden for you. It’s your garden, so you’ll have to assume ownership of it. Likewise, it’s your website, so you’ll have to assume ownership of it too.
“But I Only Need SEO Management for Six Months”
Sorry dude, there’s no such thing as a short-term SEO management. Building a website that complies with the SEO techniques is a continuously ongoing process. Once you embark on your journey, it’ll take a few months just to set the foundation. Only after that can you start raising your website’s visibility from the ocean of all the other websites on the web. And you can almost guarantee that you won’t see any real results for at least 12 months.
Sure, there’ll always be that odd “SEO consultant” who can guarantee you a first page listing immediately upon signing up. But then again, the faster you climb, the harder you’ll fall. Trust me on this one – you will fall… And most likely, it’ll happen the moment your service term ends with them.
It’s just like buying a full page, full colour, advertising space on a daily newspaper. When your advertisement is featured, the whole readership knows who you are. But come the next day, when your advertisement is no longer featured, nobody will remember who you are.
“Is There A Short Cut?”
You bet there is… It’s called buying advertising space with the search engine. As long as you keep paying the advertising fee, you’ll continue to be listed on the first page of every relevant search… That is, until you run out of budget!…