Perhaps not concept is more daunting to web site owners than Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Since the day the Internet as we know it was launched, there have been literally hundreds if not thousands of ideas about how to best get traffic to a website. However, with the development of Google, much changed and although the basic algorithm used by that company has been altered considerably since that time, the basic principles that drive traffic have not.
Google does not make their search parameters publicly known, which makes sense as it is proprietary knowledge, but we do know their goal: To provide the best results to those using their service. Hence, the principles upon which their search engines find and locate information are not that difficult to figure out.
I am going to reveal what I believe are the underlying principles of that search engine based on experiments I have conducted, but before doing so, let us consider some history leading up to where we are today.
A Brief History of the Internet
The World Wide Web has actually been around a long time. The initial web was designed to help researchers in the sciences and government agencies to trade data so as to improve the quality and speed of research. In the late 1980s, a man named Tim Berners-Lee was working at the research facility, CERN in Switzerland and it was there that he developed the Hyperlink, which is the tool that makes the Internet possible.
In 1991, the first website was built and the Internet was born.
Initially, to find information on the World Wide Web, people used Directories such as DMOZ and most of these remain in use today. Then some companies such as Alta-Vista and AOL began developing Search Engines as a means of sorting through the growing amounts of data to locate relevant web sites. However, most of these returned poor results.
By the mid-1990s however, two PhD students at UC Berkeley named Larry Page and Sergey Brin got together to create a Search Engine that could find what they wanted. Their goal was to create a Search Engine that would actually be useful in their research and they accomplished exactly that–Google was born.
What This Teaches us About the Principles of the Search Engine
Bear in mind that up to this point, everything useful that was developed, with the exception of the Directories, was developed to advance research. That research focused on University papers.
I had heard about this and decided to do some experimenting. Here is what I did and what I found.
I am a Criminal Justice major and had been writing essays for some time. I had built a blog that had poetry, short stories, general rants and raves, and some screenplays on it for entertainment value. But I was not getting any traffic off the search engines beyond a couple of hits a month. Then I decided to place my essays on the site and my traffic increased greatly–all from search engines.
What is more, I found that my “A” and “B” papers received more traffic than my “C” papers (which I am ashamed to have). So I tested further and cleaned up the “C” papers to improve them and guess what? Yep, these began getting more traffic. If you would like to read a few of these papers, they can be found on this site in my Portfolio.
However, this demonstrated to me that a few elements must be in place for the Search Engines to find information useful enough to include in results. Here are the elements/principles.
5 Principles of Search Engine Relevancy
1. Great Content: The content must not only be fresh, but also well-structured and grammatically correct.
2. Timely Content: People must be searching for the content and the less competition there is, the greater the chance of reaching the top of the results.
3. Keyword Density Matters Less than Accuracy of Keywords: I did not seek to “load” keywords nor find every possible combination of Keyword. I simply put the keyword tags that best described what was in the essay.
4. Subheadings count: I found that essays with fewer subheadings obtained fewer search results. When I broke the material into fitting sub-sections, search results went up.
5. Grades Matter: When I submitted material that my Professor found unsatisfactory, the Search Engines were likewise less pleased. It was as if I were being “graded” for my performance. The lesson? Write as if writing in college and the Search Engines will give you a better “grade” by moving you to the head of the class.
This was an odd piece and perhaps we should call this the Bonus Principle. I found that essays that had a “Conclusion” at the end performed better than those with simply a final sub-heading. I am not sure is that is in the algorithm or not, but it sure seemed like it. In any case, I hope you find these principles of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) useful and enjoy better results in using them. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to write to me here or simply add a comment below. In addition, if you are interested in a Consultation or having us write content for your web site, contact us either by phone or on Skype.
If you liked this article, you may also enjoy reading The Golden Triangle: Build a Better Website.