Search Engine Optimization: What’s New
Last year Google made over 500 changes to its search algorithm, changing how it indexes websites and how they rank in search engine results. Search engine optimization needs to adapt to these changes and continually find news ways to promote websites within the changing environment.
How do Search Engines Work?
A search engines finds web pages by following links from one website to another, then crawls (or reads) the content on the pages. After crawling, search engines parse the words and phrases and index the page for fast retrieval. Think of the index as an old-style library card index. Next, the search engine ranks all web pages using a complex series of ranking factors that generally try to assign some kind of quality measurement to each page.
When someone searches the web for a word or phrase, the search engine quickly checks through its index, first searching for relevant web pages and assembling them in order of ranking with significance given to relevance. Then, those pages are presented as the search results, with the highest ranked (and presumably most relevant / best quality) at the top.
How are Search Engines Evolving?
In the early days search engines focused on bringing relevant pages to searchers by simply matching keywords. And spamming was born! Web spammers learned that forcing keywords into pages helped them seem relevant and place high on search results pages. There has been an ongoing battle ever since with search engines trying to return quality search results and spammers trying to game the system.
In this decade, search engines are trying to mimic human sensibilities of trust. Trust is difficult for a computer program to measure because it's a subjective quality that even humans struggle with. However, by using the some basic signals: popularity, influence and quality, search engines can make big advances in their efforts to bring quality search results to their customers.
For white hat webmasters, the goal has always been to work on developing the signals that search engines use to rank web pages. The trick is knowing what signals work best, working hard on presenting the signals, while not manipulating or over-optimizing the website and its environment.
As search engines evolve and update their algorithms, tools become more important in managing the complex tasks of optimizing website content for improved search engine performance. Here are some of our favorite FREE tools that we use to help build and manage successful campaigns:
Google and Bing Webmaster Tools
Most commercial search engines have tools to help webmasters build, diagnose and monitor their website's important features. Our favorites in this area are Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. Both of these tools let webmasters know how well their web pages are being crawled, how many inbound links point to the website, what search terms are used to bring traffic and much more.
Authority and Link Profile:
MajesticSEO and Open Site Explorer
There are third party tools available to help measure the quality and quantity of inbound links you and your competition have. We like MajesticSEO which has a very informative link profile tool which is very helpful in determining popularity and influence. There is a free option that works for almost all small business websites and professional versions that have more features and reporing options.
Social Media Management:
Socialoomph, PingFM, Hootsuite
Managing social media acquisitions and influence is important when monitoring campaigns and implementing new strategies. These tools give great insight into how well your message is heard throughout your social media base and also provide productivity tools for finding, adding and removing followers.
We'll be happy to provide more information on search engine optimization. Let us know.