Search Engine Optimization is Also Known As SEO
WE will discuss how search engines work and why search engine optimization is important.
In the second section, we’ll discuss basic techniques and important factors in SEO and search rankings.
And, in the final section of this guide we’ll discuss how to maintain and continually improve SEO long term.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is optimizing your content to drive search engine traffic to your work.
It involves gaining a thorough understanding of how search engines work and then reflecting that knowledge in your writing and webpage design to maximize traffic to and user experience on your page.
SEO is important because search engines like Google, YAHOO!, and Bing drive the majority of web traffic. Shares on social media can cause short term spikes in stats, but real, long term success comes from maximizing search engines ability to drive traffic to your page.
Not only will good SEO improve search rankings and increase traffic for the author, but it helps people interested in your topic find your page and improves the viewer’s experience as well.
SEO involves strategically using appropriate keywords, building links to your work and making your pages search engine friendly. Although it is important to understand what SEO is, it is also important to understand what SEO isn’t. While SEO can make a big difference in stats, it cannot fix bad writing or poor content. SEO can make good writing into a great, high performing webpage, but it cannot turn poor content into good writing.
How Search Engines Work
Search Engines use “spiders” or “crawlers” to build an index of the webpages available, the words on each page, and where on the page those words were located.These program robots begin on popular webpages and add important words found on the page to the search engine’s index. From there, they follow every link on the page and index the corresponding pages before using the links on those pages to go to the next set of pages, and so on and so forth. This process is known as crawling.
Once this information is gathered by the spiders, it is encoded and stored for indexing. In order to even out the difference between the time needed to search a term beginning with a popular letter like ‘t’ and a search term beginning with a less popular letter like ‘q,’ a numerical value is applied to each word. This process is known as hashing. Not only does hashing even out problems related to letter frequency, but it condenses the index. Only the numerical value and a link to the actual information is stored in the index. This increases index and search speed, especially with more complicated searches that involve multiple words.
When a user performs a search, he or she types a query into the search box. Boolean operators can be used to define specific relationships between the terms in a query. Some of the most common operators are:
- AND-requires that both terms are on the page
- OR-requires that one term or the other is on the page
- NOT-excludes pages that include the following term
- NEAR-requires that two terms be near each other on the page
- “quotation marks”-requires the query be treated as a phrase, instead of each significant word in the query being considered an individual keyword
- FOLLOWED BY-requires that one term be followed by another
These searches are defined as literal searches. Research is currently underway on concept based searching which uses statistics statistical analysis of webpages containing your query to recommend pages you might be interested in, as well as natural language searching which allows users to type a question into the search box using the simple language they would use to ask a friend their question instead of using Boolean operators.
There’s More than One Search Engine
Each search engine uses different rules for determining which words are indexed and which words aren’t. Some search engines index every word on the page. Others focus on the most common words, the words in titles and subtitles, meta tags and the first few lines of text.
If you’ve ever tried searching the same phrase on different search engines, you probably noticed that you got different results. This is because each engine uses different algorithms to weight and index keywords and determine search result rankings. Search engine ranking algorithms use website popularity, meta tags, number of back links (links to the page), keyword frequency and location and a wide variety of other factors to rank webpages and how well they correlate to viewer searches.
In addition to relevance, website popularity is taken into account in determining search rankings. As more interested users are directed to your page by your SEO techniques, not only will the techniques increase your relevancy scores, but the popularity component of the ranking algorithms will increase as well.
(For more concrete information on specific ranking factors and their relative weight please see this website.)
Your Audience is Important in SEO
Now that you know how search engines function, we need to consider how users interact with search engines. To conduct a search, the user types a few keywords into the search box and clicks enter, browses the results and selects a page to visit. If the user is unsatisfied, he or she will return to the search and select another result or modify their query for a new result list.
People perform searches because they a) want to go somewhere specific on the web b) want to do something specific or c) learn a piece of information. In order to create a high performing webpage, you need to think like your user.
Ask yourself how many of your audience’s needs can be met on your page. Add additional, relevant content that meets these needs to attract more viewers and happier views. Then ask yourself if your audience can find your page. What queries might your target audience put into the search engine? Are those keywords found in your titles, subtitles, alt text, summary and first few sentences?
Remember, building content for your users will lead to better results than trying to build pages for search engines.
How to Develop an SEO Friendly PHP Website?
Is your business trying to reach potential customers who search for information online? Of course it is.
But be sure not to neglect those who use mobile phones -- used by more than 90 percent of U.S. households today, according to CTIA, the wireless industry association. That compares to home Internet usage estimated at about 74 percent, according to Nielsen Online.
The CTIA also says data usage on mobile phones has surpassed the amount of voice data in the U.S. for the first time last year. Along with using mobile versions of Web browsers, on-the-go Internet users are increasingly turning to social media and specialized apps to help them find what they're looking for.
In the era of mobile Internet commerce, businesses need to re-evaluate their search engine optimization strategies. Here are some tips on taking advantage of this shifting trend from computer to smartphone from experts in the field.
Drop .mobi, but limit Flash
"The recent and continued advancement in smartphone technology has brought mobile browsing and search engine optimization (SEO) much closer to standard web SEO practices," says Dustin Ruge with the SEO Consultant Firm, based in New York City. "Previously, companies would pursue the creation of mobile sites (.mobi), with much lighter content and faster load times to support first generation mobile browsers, but today, mobile browsers are becoming much more 'normalized' in nature and tend to perform similar in results to standard Web browsers."
That said, Ruge still suggests to utilize XHTML formats, limit excessive load times (i.e. Adobe Flash) and make sure critical information -- such as phone numbers and addresses -- is prominently displayed and readable in mobile applications.
Test is best, click to call
Amber MacArthur, a new media strategist and author of Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business (2010 Portfolio), agrees with Ruge's last point.
"To ensure that consumers get what they want when searching on a mobile phone, companies need to ensure they have mobile-friendly websites," says MacArthur. "Businesses don't simply have to check their sites on one device, they should test across multiple smartphone platforms, such as the BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android."
Smartphones with these three dominant operating systems allow users to call phone numbers listed in their Web browsers with a single tap or click, which then launches the phone function of the device. You'll know if a phone number or email address can be used as such if they're underlined in the browser.
The most significant change to how consumers are using smartphones to find companies is the widespread popularity of mobile apps."To put this into context, Steve Jobs recently said that there are now more than 200,000 Apple mobile apps," says MacArthur. "In other words, individuals are no longer going through a browser get information, such as restaurant reviews and product recommendations -- this means that traditional SEO placement tactics are less effective."
Ruge acknowledges mobile apps are "exploding in use," but he feels it might be too early to develop any concrete conclusions about its effectiveness in user search. "Based on learned user behavior, I suspect that standard browsing practices through the traditional search engine interfaces will not be threatened anytime soon," says Ruge.
Social networks, too
Customers are also relying on their social networks to find what they're looking for, reminds MacArthur, who says she uses Google less and Twitter and Facebook more."The tipping point for me was a couple of years ago when I went online to Twitter to ask my network where I should stay in the D.C. area. Within minutes, I had dozens of recommendations and links, which was a lot easier than sifting through pages and pages of random search results on Google."
According to MacArthur, about three quarters of cellphone users are using mobile phones to frequent social networking sites. "With such a high penetration of users on Facebook, Twitter and in other online hangouts, it's key that small and mid-sized businesses put time and effort into social networking strategies."
MacArthur suggests businesses consider a free Web service called HootSuite. "Not only will this tool allow companies to post to multiple accounts at the same time within an easy-to-use dashboard, it makes networking with the people on these sites easy and it also makes it a cinch to monitor your brand's reputation (and respond when necessary)," adds MacArthur.
As for the future
Both Ruge and MacArthur were asked about location-based services.
"This is a very difficult issue to address at this point since there are ongoing privacy related issues dealing with mobile browsing and GPS," says Ruge. "Recent privacy issues dealing with Facebook should be a shot across the bow to any unauthorized future use of personal online browsing coordinated with GPS data; the technology is certainly there for some amazing capabilities but Americans are very particular when it comes to privacy issues," he adds.
MacArthur is more optimistic about its immediate future. "Location-based services are exploding as a key marketing platform for many businesses." "For starters, setting your company up on a site like Foursquare won't cost you a cent, giving businesses an opportunity to bring their online relationships with customers offline."
MacArthur also says "augmented reality" tools that add informational layers on top of what you see through your smartphone's camera, "is about to change the way most of us get information." "For example, imagine walking down the street, pointing your phone's lens at a restaurant, and then seeing live links to menu item reviews online."
Although augmented reality is a hot trend, "it's somewhat more complicated to develop, compared to location-based apps and GPS tools, so companies are a slow to jump onboard," says MacArthur.
How to Use Social Media to Improve Your Organic Search Engine Ranking
Currently, SEO web design is the most promoted product for the online businesses to achieve their sales targets. Yes, fetching a good traffic from Google or other search leading engines is being possible with SEO campaigns. On-page optimization, off-page optimization, and technical factors are the three prime elements of bringing SEO success for a website. So, the need of SEO friendly programming language can be fulfilled with PHP. For a better search engine visibility of the web pages, the web developers should follow the following tips while developing a SE friendly website.
• Clean URL structure:
Dynamic URLs and season IDs in URL are not good so the developer need to use a unique PHPSESSID variable. If the season IDs will be included in URLs so, the search engines will treat a single page with different season IDs as different pages. It leads to duplicate content which is punishable by search engines.
Use keyword rich permalinks with url_rewriter tags, which makes the URLs friendly for both search engines and visitors. Also decrease the use of special characters other than the hyphen (-) symbol.
• Avoid canonical errors:
Search engines treat www and non-www sites differently if also they contain the same content. Duplicate content issue may arise, so use 301 redirection. In this concern the PHP developers need to spend more time on the homepage as the site.com/index.php will be treated as different to site.com.
• Putting right heading and bold tags:
Optimizing the website for search engines in the development period carries a lot of responsibilities and adds more tasks for the web developers. Creating a dynamic header (header.php) and using unique values for Meta of singular web pages is a must do act for designing an SEO website. So, at the time of coding, using of page-specific PHP variables get’s the work done. $pageTitle, $pageDescription, $pageCanonical, $pageKeywords, $pageRobots, etc are the significant SEO stuffs for On-page optimization of a PHP website. Also, using H1, H2, H3 and <strong> attributes in a webpage improves it’s indexing possibility.
• Cross browser issues:
In this mobile web age, we can’t rely upon the desktop users only as the growth rate of internet on mobile browsers created a milestone in the last few years. SEO is now promoting user experience and the cross browser compatibility will surely impress both visitors and the search engines. Coding a responsive or mobile friendly website using PHP language is not a hard task for the experienced web developers.
• Navigation and links:
Both of these are vital in bringing SEO success for a website. It is proved that the Google and others like easy to navigate websites. So, use texts based navigation as well as try to have breadcrumbs which provide more flexibility for a user for browsing the site effortlessly. Links, both inbound and outbound, carry the scores of getting good link juice. Using diverse and relevant anchor texts for hyperlinks and declaring rel=nofollow/dofollow attributes is advised.
Advantages of PHP (compared to ASP):
- The accessories or software required for a functional web server for PHP websites, i.e. Linux OS, Apache server, MySQL server, and PHP can be installed or upgraded at free of cost with no restriction. But the MS Windows Server and MS SQL Server (used for ASP) licenses need to be purchased which proves PHP is cost effective.
- ASP.net holds about double time for coding or deployment than PHP so, choosing PHP is wise for the busy web developers concerning time.
- Talking about support, as an open source platform, PHP (with LAMP - (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) has a lot of resources and support options.
- According to most of the research data sources, the communication between PHP and MySQL is a little bit faster than ASP.net and MSSQL. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, etc like some high traffic websites are using MySQL so there is no doubt about the performance of PHP’s preferred database management system i.e. MySQL (by Oracle).
- The ext4 file system of Linux OS (supports PHP) has a better performance record than MS Windows OS’s NTFS (used for ASP) during Input/output (IO) process.
- The Linux web servers with LAMP platform use comparatively fewer server resources, i.e. CPU and Memory.
- PHP is supported on any OS platforms like Linux, Mac (Mac OS X), UNIX and Windows also. But ASP is limited to only with MS Windows OS.