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Search Engine Optimization

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Search Engine Optimization Takes Time
By Andrew Gerhart - March 01, 2002

Introduction
I know it, as do the other search engine optimization professionals in the field. This is for the people that are either new to SEO, or who are looking to begin an SEO campaign for their website. I am talking about the fact that seeing results from your search engine optimization campaign takes time, and you need to be patient. This little rule of thumb applies to all aspects of an SEO campaign: being indexed in the search engines, ranking in the search engines, building link popularity, increasing traffic to the website, increasing PageRank, or if you are a search engine optimization professional, learning SEO.

Search Engine Indexing
Nowadays, people are becoming more and more oriented with technology, the Internet, and in turn, the search engines. Many people even know that the search engines do take a good deal of time to index a website. They may not know why, they just know that this is the way that it works. If you would like your website to appear in a search engine (not rank well) you will have to submit the website to the search engines. This is sometimes called search engine registration. The search engines use technology called spiders, robots, and crawlers to index a website. In Google's case, the robot is used to find the website, as Google normally disregards a submission and prefers to find the site on its own. The length of time between submission and the time that the website appears in the search engines database of websites can range from 4 to 14 weeks. There is no defined way to tell when the search engines will add your website to their database and the site will begin to appear in the search results pages. (Without payment, which we will discuss later)

Ranking in the Search Engines
This length of time ties in with what was mentioned above, but also, and in some cases more importantly, what will be mentioned in later paragraphs. The length of time that it takes to see successful ranking in the search engines varies, and depends on some website variables, and the level of optimization that was implemented to the site before submission. Some web sites can come right out of the gates ranking on top of the search engine results pages for their desired keywords. Let's run through an example.

Two sites that are nearly identical, in the same market and targeting the same keywords, are both optimized in different fashions and submitted to the search engines on the same exact day. They both appear in the search engine results pages in the same week (the same day would be a bit much!), but Site 1 is ranking better than Site 2. Why?

One reason that Site 1 is ranking above Site 2 is that before submitting to the search engines, the SEO professionals built upon Site 1's link popularity. Another reason may be that Site 1 has the correct search engine optimization techniques applied. Some of these are having the correct keyword density, the correct keyword positioning, the correct title tags, and not using any out of date, or any spam, tricks.

In some cases, it takes time to build a solid and desired ranking within the search engines. While some web site shoot out of the gates ranking well, in some of the markets that are highly competitive it takes time to establish a site as an authority among the other millions of sites that are returned for the search term. This is done by increasing link popularity, PageRank within Google, proper optimization techniques, and increasing overall traffic to the website through other various forms of online marketing, advertising, and promotion.

Building link popularity and PageRank
When executed correctly this is one of the most time consuming parts of any search engine optimization campaign. Why do we say, "When executed correctly"? We say this because when the search engines began to count link popularity as a factor in their algorithms and search engine ranking, search engine optimization professionals and webmasters began to invent quick and easy ways to build a web site's link popularity. The search engines build these algorithms for a reason, and the reason is not so that any web master can rise to the top of the results pages by finding a shortcut or by using some sort of little deceitful trick. Some of these little tricks to bypass the problem of link popularity are link farms, free-for-all link farms, link generators, guest books, and more. Now the search engines, especially Google, have begun to put less weight on these types of links, forcing SEO professionals and web masters to build a site's link popularity manually.

This in turn has forced the SEO professional community to throw out some of the old tricks. What is the new focus within the search engines and SEO community? Content. Yep, content, content, content. But not just any old content; unique content. I mention this now because this ties in to the lengthy process of building link popularity and building PageRank, which is discussed below.

If your site has twenty pages of bland, repetitive, or duplicate content, why would someone want to link to it? On the other hand, if you analyze a particular market, and develop unique content, everyone will want to link to you. For more on link popularity, please visit the Top SIte Listings Link Popularity Section.

This brings us to PageRank, as this is the more selective and complex form of link popularity.

Increasing PageRank
For those of you who are not familiar with the term, PageRank is Google's score (1 through 10) that is assigned to every page within the Google database. The calculation of this score is highly complex, and deals with variables such as the number of incoming links, internal linking structure, and more. A web site's, and web pages', PageRank in Google plays a considerable role in it's ranking within Google.

Increasing PageRank is not as simple and straightforward as link popularity. To increase link popularity, a web master or SEO professional simply needs to contact any website and request that they link to their website. If this website decides to post the link, then the site's link poularity has effectively been increased. To effectively increase PageRank, the websites that you contact for a link must be from within the same market as the website that needs a boost in PageRank. The ideal site to contact for a link would be one that ranks well within Google's search results for the page's target keyword. For a better description of Google PageRank, please visit the Top Site Listings Google Page Rank Explanation Guide.

Increasing Traffic to a Web Site
Gaining grounds within the search engines, and gaining overall traffic to your website will take time. There is no quick fix that will allow you to capitalize on all of the Internet traffic within a particular market. There are other online marketing and advertising avenues that will allow a website to gain some traffic while waiting for the search engines to index the website. A few of these mediums are Overture.com, Google Adwords, Yahoo Sponsored Listings, and more.

What takes time is learning which of these avenues of online marketing, advertising, and search engine traffic sources is right for your website and market. You will need to do a lot of research into each individual one, test them out, and calculate the conversions and ROI that you are seeing. Without testing, you will not be able to decipher which avenues to pursue and which ones to eliminate. The most important factor is conversion rates, click-thru rates (CTR), and seeing a good return-on-investment (ROI).

Learning SEO
So you want to learn Search Engine Optimization? The learning process in SEO never ends. I have said it before and I will say it again: I highly doubt that there is any one person that knows everything there is to know about SEO. If someone is serious about learning SEO, there are a number of basic aspects that must be learned. Some of the requirements for SEO are:

• Thorough knowledge of the Internet as a whole
• Knowledge of each Search Engine and Directory
• Knowledge of who's results appear where
• Knowledge of different partnerships (ex: Overture's listings on Yahoo!)
• Thorough knowledge and experience with HTML
• Experience with web site statistics programs, or reading log files

This will get you started…but there is much more to learn.

Looking for a place to learn search engine optimization or about the search engines? Online is the spot to find the premier sources of SEO training and learning resources. No one can tell you better than I of the exponential learning potential that exist at www.WebMasterWorld.com, the leader in Search Engine Optimization and web master forums. SearchEngineWatch.com is another leading source of search engine and SEO information, although this website requires a subscription for most of the information. Other learning resources include www.topsitelistings.com/news.htm, www.searchengineguide.com, www.seotoday.com, www.searchengineworld.com, and www.acws.com.