Your customers need to know who you are before they invest in your products and services. Most companies go into traditional advertising or direct marketing campaigns. Fine. But there is a better way.

I think we can agree that the Web site, the Search Engine, and the Browser have changed the business landscape. With Search Engine Optimization, you can increase brand awareness, attract targeted prospects and convert more leads. Sound interesting? You bet. Let me tell you how.

How Search Engines Work

Search engine technology is complex; therefore, the challenge is to simplify the parts that make up the whole. In my view, there are three primary parts to a search engine: the spider, the index and the search leg.

The spider crawls the servers on the Internet to find HTML documents, dumping them into the index. The index has filtered the HTML pages and stands by as a repository of data answering to the search leg. The search leg is the connection between a browser, the index and a search result. Confusing? Letís draw a diagram.

The filtering process between the spider and the index is where the search engine applies its algorithm for organizing the data in its index. In its simplest form, genuine search engine optimization (SEO) occurs as an iterative loop of research, analysis, submission, monitoring and reporting. This process allows for the constant improvement of your Web pages as they travel through the search engine filter process from one month to the next, molding them into the form search spiders seek to index.

A search engine like Google is tasked with finding expert advice, knowledge, information and opinion while also ranking what it considers most relevant for a particular query. The science of relevance is a responsibility Google and other search engines take very seriously. Showing respect for this science and understanding how search engines work is the quickest way to acquire good organic search results.

There are three entities that must communicate with each other for indexing and ranking to take place: the Web Site, the Search Engine and the Browser.

The Web Site

The server hosting your Web site is at the heart of the entire process. Its ability to communicate properly with the spider is of utmost importance. The server DNS configuration, its organization of certain files and its method for directing a search engine to various documents or URLs is also critical.

Think of the server offering a handshake to the spider; if there are issues hindering good communication, the spider retreats accordingly. The spider has a limited time to respond to issues while crawling the Internet; it wants everything in proper order. Web sites with high organic rankings are those that have their servers configured and organized properly.

The HTML code on your Web site residing within the server is also important to search spiders. Spiders can process simple HTML code much easier than JavaScript or complex code.

The Search Engine

A search engine such as Google is looking for content from subject matter experts to rank in its top organic listings. It wants to provide a good user experience to users searching its database by producing relevant, unbiased, useful information.

In order to accomplish this task while relying on the automated procedure of interpreting HTML code, the search engine must filter and store its data in a safe place known as the index. After gathering data from servers on the Internet, the spider filters it into the index.

The index is at the core of search engine credibility. If an index is corrupt, search results will be inferior. This is why search engines take so much care in filtering and monitoring their indexes.

Getting your Web site into a search engine index is a good start toward acquiring high-rankings; however, the two are not synonymous. There is a world of difference between making your Web site a subject matter expert in the eyes of Google vs. getting into its index. This difference lies in the training, skills and performance of your search marketing vendor.

In 1996, it was easy to get indexed because the search leg sifted through fewer than a hundred million documents. Today, the search leg must weave through billions of documents and return millions of relevant results within 16/hundredths of a second. The level of competence required to have your Web page URL migrate from millions of similar documents into the top 10 organic results is higher today than ever before.

The Browser

The browser is where a search query takes place on a desktop. It communicates with the search leg and index to return a search engine result page.

When you hit the search button, your browser is simply jumping on the search leg, tapping into the index and receiving the search engineís best guess at answering your query with relevant results.

The remarkable event that takes place after the search is the click-through. The click- through rate for organic results on Google is 28% for the #1 position and 3-12% for the #2-#10 positions. Research and case studies document significant increases in conversions when a Web site enters the top 10 rankings in Google.

SEO Best Practices

If you understand how search engines work and comply with their guidelines, it becomes easier to obtain superior results. Complying with search engine guidelines is a very important part of SEO best practices.

To arrive at best practices, the industry needs to adopt standards. This will bring more credibility to our trade and help eliminate devious tactics. Red Door Interactive is committed to helping industry leaders establish search engine marketing standards and best practices.

SEO and the Bottom Line

As reported recently, companies are allocating 33 percent of their online budgets to Web site updates, driven by SEO changes. Organic SEO gives you a better functioning Web site, which in turn delivers a better bottom line.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

April 28, 2006

Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for strategizing and implementing search engine marketing activities within Red Door's Internet Presence Management (IPM) services.

Search Engine Guide > Paul Bruemmer > In Search of Better Organic Rankings