SEO For Beginners: What Search Engines Look For

Written by Kevin Chow on .

SEO For Beginners: What Search Engines Look ForSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the process used by online marketers and entrepreneurs to maximize a website’s non-paid or organic visits and sales through search engines. There are two primary factors that make SEO essential for your business in the current economic climate. Firstly, it is impossible to disregard online sales because consumers and businesses are increasingly using search engines to research and make purchases. And secondly, the harsh economic times make it critical for businesses to find new, cost effective methods of marketing and selling. 


A combination of these forces makes SEO a unique opportunity for new businesses to penetrate the market. There are various elements that beginners need to know about SEO before they can reap the full benefits. For instance, it is important to know how search engines work, how to get many visits and convert those visits to sales, how to obtain the right keywords for your niche, how to create quality content that will motivate people to link to and share, and how to plan your website’s structure. 


How do search engines work?

If you can understand how search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo work, they have a good foundation for getting your site to the top of search engine results. The following is a simple analysis of how the Google search engine works:


Crawling: Google visits a massive number of website pages (billions), and finds more pages by crawling or following the links that it finds on those pages.  


Indexing: Google stores the information that it finds in its index, which can be compared to a large filing system. 


Matching: when someone types in a search word or phrase, Google searches its index for all the pages that contain that word or phrase. There could be thousands or millions of matches for a single search, all competing to be listed on the first page of the results, and possibly at the top. So, if your website does not contain the words in the search, then it cannot possible be displayed as one of the results. Google must then determine the order in which it will display the results. 

Ranking: there are over 200 factors taken into consideration by Google in order to determine the order in which display pages that match the result. Each matching page is awarded a score based on these factors, and the total score is used to rank them and establish an order to present the result. The page with the highest score is listed on the first page, at the top. 

 SEO factors

Which factors affect your website’s rank?

Google considers numerous factors to determine the rank of a website, some of which are dependent on various attributes of individual web pages like: 

  • How often the search word or phrase (keyword) is used on a page
  • Whether the keyword appears in the URL or page title
  • Whether the page has words with a similar meaning (synonyms) to the keyword


Some factors are dependent on the website itself, like:

  • Whether the page is part of a high quality website, or low quality or spam
  • The number of links from other sites and pages pointing to the page and importance of the links
  • Whether you have used the search query or keyword in the anchor text of links pointing to the relevant page. Anchor text refers to the actual words that you click when following a link


Some factors are influenced by user behavior like:

  • The click through rate (CTR) or percentage of searchers following a particular link in the list of search results
  • The percentage of searchers who are dissatisfied with a particular choice after visiting the page and instantly return to the search results


Some factors are influenced by social reference like:

  • The frequency of referencing a page on social sites like Google+, Twitter and Facebook
  • The interest shown by people in a searcher’s social network with regard to that page, in terms of whether they offer personalized results


Another factor that does not fall in any of the mentioned categories is the location of the searcher, and the web page or its business. This affects the rank of your web page if the search query restricts the options to a particular locality. 


So, how do you increase your rank using SEO?

Basically, all you have to do is to structure your website appropriately and tailor your content so that the search engine favors your pages. You need to find a keyword that explains what you are offering in a manner that will attract the exact market that you want. This requires a bit of research using tools like Wordtracker. With your keyword, you can:

  • Brand your domain: use a relevant structure for your URL
  • Create links within your content using relevant anchor text, and make the content easy to share on social media
  • Use titles and meta tags containing key words and their variations

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