PART II: WEB DESIGN
1. Search Engines and Search Engine Optimization
In the previous post, we discussed that there is a second audience besides humans that your website should consider–robots!
Robots are the programs that search engines send out to gather and scour information on the Internet and report back to them. These robots are also called spiders and their activity is called “spidering.” Spiders, of course, “crawl” the World Wide Web.
This collected information is then evaluated by criteria set forth in search engine algorithms. Algorithms are a set of procedures created to solve a problem or get to a desired result in a specified manner. The results of the algorithm process determine search engine rankings. This is the order in which websites are displayed when a search is made.
Search engine algorithms are constantly changing and can be different from search engine to search engine. When the algorithm changes, your website’s rankings may fluctuate up and down for a time as your website is affected by the new weighting of different criteria, and so are your competitors’. This fluctuation is called by some the “Google dance.”
If you are using the Internet to help advertise or increase your Internet presence for your business, organization or area of interest, rankings are very important. This is because many people do not go past the first few results or pages, so what is on top has the best opportunity of having Internet users visit.
Search engine optimization specialists will often research and study many more pages in order to have a more in depth understanding of the competition to help clients rank better. While search engine optimization specialists study many things and employ a variety of techniques to help a website be and rank its best, no one should ever guarantee a high ranking. Ranking high is like doing well in the stock market or a horse winning a race. While much can be done to ensure success, there are so many different and uncontrollable variables and competitors, even the best specialist cannot and should not guarantee results.
Having some basic understanding of these busy spiders is key to encouraging them to visit and report back that your website is indeed worthy, in the minds of those who created the latest algorithms, of a higher ranking than your competitor’s. It is important to create good solid websites that are useful to humans, which is what companies like Google state is their intent for the algorithms.
It is also important to realize that what is considered tasty by a spider, whether it is program or arachnid, is very different from a succulent meal or “eye candy” to humans.
The art, or practice, of making a better website by using and creating tasty morsels for the spiders to feast on and report back favorably to their masters is called search engine optimization (SEO).
Search engine optimization will be covered in a future installment of our series, “Website Basics: An Introduction to Important Terms and Concepts.”
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