Google much? For many customers, the first stop when looking for retail business, restaurants, professional services or for nearly anything - is a search engine. The second stop? One of the top listed webpages that came back as a result of their search.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results. [...] Google holds over 60% of the total search market. Its algorithm is naturally also unique, so ranking on Google carries its own unique considerations. Although there are over 200 criteria Google uses to rank sites, they can be categorized into two main sections: on-site and off-site factors
How then, do search engines determine whether a hungry Albertan searcher for Pizza Edmonton should find Tony's Pizza Palace or Franco's Pizzeria & Pub first on the list of results? On the surface there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference between the two - medium sized family restaurants, nicely designed web sites, good reviews - why then does Tony's come up as a top 10 result, but not Franco's?
With approximately 3 results for every resident of Edmonton to choose from, how did Pizza 73 take top spot?
Unfortunately, there is no single solution to this question - and depending on who you ask, you're likely to receive a different answer. There are also strategies that work well for improving rankings on some search engines, but not others. Google, in particular, often looks for different criteria than do other search engines such as Bing,Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Dogpile or Ask.com.
Not sure about which search engine people are using right now? General statistics for search engine usage are not hard to find, and most of them will tell you the same thing: Google - Google - Google - Yahoo/MSN (75/25). Yes - Google is #1 by far, but there are reasons why you might focus on the other players.
- Depending on your product/service, your target customers may be more likely than the general public to use specific search engines - try to find out.
- Everyone wants to be #1 on Google, but how many people are focused on a top spot on Snap.com? Snagging a top spot on a lesser search engine may ultimately lead to more website traffic than 88th spot on Google.
- The emergence of 'Meta Engines', where a single search engine can collect results from multiple search engines at once means that even if people aren't searching on AltaVista for your business, they might find it anyway through a site like Metacrawler.com, for example.
Again, there is no single solution for achieving SEO - and even if there was, it would likely be out of date by the time you read this post. Instead, I would suggest to focus on the quality of your website (yes - this does count on Google), spreading your business name through as many websites as possible (Twitter, Facebook and Blogging are great ways to increase the number of places your business 'exists' on the web), and ONLY then starting to try out SEO or SEM (paid search engine marketing).
Try searching for any of these terms in a search engine and see what you'll find
To learn more about SEO, here are a few sites you might want to check out:
Finally - for the avid learner looking for the full scoop on SEO, here are some of the top books on the subject:
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo Google Analytics v2.0 created by vrypan on May 8, 2007, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Last viewed on Nov 8, 2010.