What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is a very simple concept masking an extremely complex set of rules, formulas and algorithms. SEO is a strategy or a practice that is implemented by web developers in hopes of increasing visibility of their website on a search engine page when users ‘search’ for specific terms and keywords. It is an extremely important factor in the success of many websites, whether it is a blog, news site, or online store. Some websites can do without SEO or at least very minimal SEO; these may include government websites, university websites, sites that rely on other means of marketing and branding, and private websites.
This book will be dedicated to helping sites that need SEO as a marketing strategy, and if you have read this far, you are looking for the best way to implement SEO strategies into your or your clients' website.
The traditional and somewhat practical approach in improving a website's search rankings is simply by giving the search engine what it wants in order to rank your page highly.
It is important to understand the purpose of a search engine: The goal of a search engine is to provide a selection of websites to an individual who is looking for information about a particular subject/topic.
The search engine wants to provide the BEST RESULTS possible. This means that when a search engine finds a website, it must be satisfying to the user, in that the result presents a website that is both relevant and helpful in regards to whatever the user searched for.
Example: If a user wants to shop for camping gear online, they may enter "camping gear" into the search box. The search will then provide a list of any websites that mention camping gear.
As you can imagine, there are thousands of sites that sell camping gear, and a large amount of them may in fact be helpful to the user. But one way or another, the search engine has to decide which ones are the best and which order it should present them to the user.
The New Approach to SEO
The Search Engine Optimization strategy will be discussed in detail in the following chapters. The approach stems from the idea of what an ideal search engine should be, and how to logically create it. Using real life variables, parameters, and factors, we analyze the concepts of SEO to understand HOW and WHY a search engine works the way it does. With this new understanding, you will be able to tweak your strategy to optimize your goals, which is ultimately higher rankings. SERPS, here we come!
Ranking Functions and Algorithms
Introducing the Concept of a Ranking Function
In order to assess the value of a particular component of a webpage, it needs to be analyzed to determine if a) the metric is useful for determining relevance to a specific query and b) the metric is useful for determining the quality of a page compared to other pages that are equally relevant.
Once the metric has been analyzed, it is necessary to assign a numerical value to that page. This is where the concept of ranking functions come in. A ranking function is simply a mathematical equation whose input variables can compute a "score" that is then assigned to the corresponding webpage and used to order it within a list of other webpages. Every ranking factor discussed on this site will detail how the ranking function is computed.
Forming a Model Algorithm
Essentially, every ranking factor has its own separate function that can compute a "score" for each webpage. There are potentially hundreds of different factors to include, therefore the combination of each ranking function will ultimately provide us with an algorithm that will help us determine the ranks of a list of webpages. The order of pages should in theory include highly relevant and quality pages near the top of the list and partially relevant, lower quality pages nearer the bottom.