Search Engine Optimization

by Amitha Amarasinghe

If you do a Google search for the keyword “world cup knockout table” you will find a page from my personal website ( ranked among the top 5 results of first search engine result page, out of 1,320,000 competing web pages indexed by Google for this keyword. During this first few days of FIFA world cup’s knock out stage, I am getting more than 2,000 visitors to this web page from around the world.

Is this accidental? No. This page is part of one of my experiments about Search Engine Optimization. I purposely picked the keyword “world cup knockout table” and created page targeted for people who will potentially search for this keyword when the knockout round of the world cup starts. Then I applied some general SEO tactics, and few of my own experiments to see what would be the outcome. The result had been phenomenal, as you can see from the Google Analytics screenshot below.

This is only a simple demonstration about the power of SEO, when driving free of charge traffic to your website. As I mentioned earlier, the above example is from an experiment I did for getting “quick results” in SEO. I will now consider practically implementing the tactics I used here, to achieve serious commercial objectives for my employer.

SEO is an essential element in your online marketing strategy. Reason is, without having a good strategy for SEO, you cannot gain a proper visibility for your website on the internet.

SEO is aimed at increasing the rank of your website so it shows up in the top ten of a search engine results page (SERP). Since these top positions are the mostly clicked on in a search, it will incredibly increase traffic to your site. Getting to the #1 position is most difficult, but if you get there, that will earn you huge amount of website traffic. SEO is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website.

But the question that most people don’t have an answer, and most businesses are spending millions of dollars every year to find an answer is “how can I get to one of these top ten positions?”.

It works like this, if I explained in the simplest language. Search engines look through a directory of websites and find the website that seems to best match the search term used by the user. If you are searching for "Cricket World Cup 2011", the engine will look through its directory for websites with those terms. When it finds the terms, it weights those terms based on several factors. For example, where these keywords are placed (domain name, metatags, title page, headers, links, body paragraphs, etc. Headers and titles take precedence over body paragraph instances); How close the terms are together (if there are multiple terms, such as "World Cup" =2 search terms: "World" "Cup"). It then adds up all the weighted scores from that website and ranks the websites accordingly based on how well they fit the bill. It then displays the results, with the top-ranking sites getting the first page, and the other sites allocated to the dumps, where hardly anyone ventures. This is how search engines rank the sites.

If search engines are ranking web pages according to a pre-defined algorithm (which includes certain qualification criteria), then we can possibly make our web pages to match that algorithm, and get our pages ranked top on search engine’s organic results. This is SEO in basic language. But, it isn’t as easy as that. There are certain pitfalls to avoid and best practices to follow. Above all, there is no one on this earth, who knows exactly the all criteria included in Google’s algorithm. It’s all guesswork, based on some hints passed by top influential people at Google.

There are some fundamental truths in SEO and it is fair to say that search engines today consider the following when ranking a given web page:

  • The content of the page - what it's about, what words are used prominently.
  • What words are used in the title of the page?
  • What words are used in the URL of the page?
  • What words are highlighted on the page?
  • What internal links (links from other pages on the same site) point to it?
  • How many external links point to it and more importantly, whether those pages are relevant to the page's subject matter?
  • The text used to form the internal and external links.
  • Even the age of the domain name plays a role in its ranking!

There is a lot more involved of course and that list could have gone on for a while. Factors such as keywords, the use of images and Flash animations, and the design of the site itself also play a role in a page's ranking.

As I mentioned at the outset, SEO is not an easy topic to be comprehended in a one article like this. If you are interested in getting information on how to learn more about SEO, and specially to know some of the unpublished strategies used for optimizing your website, you can always drop me an email at amitha [ at ] amisampath [ dot ] com. I will direct you to more informative sources for you to learn SEO and use it for your practical purposes.

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Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

A great read.

Loved your natural writing style Amitha! Keep up the good work guys :)

- Guhan