[toggle open=”true” title=”How Do Search Engines Work?”]

Search engines need to process millions of websites and tens if not hundreds of million webpages whenever any web search is made. The key to mastering SEO is knowing how a search engine reads your website’s content and processes it for a relevant web search.

One problem in trying to understand how a search engine works is the fact that they continuously change. At the beginning of 2011, for example, Google took into account the size of a website, the number of pages it had, and how many keywords were stuffed into those pages. There were complaints and within a few months, the panda update recalculated search results to take into account perceived quality. This meant a number of sites that once ranked high, now ranked a lot lower on Google.

The first task of a search engine is to find the websites and webpages it needs to index. This is done using a type of software robot called a spider. For example, if you run a WordPress-based website, you will be able to track how many spiders have latched onto your site by using a plugin such as StatPress Reloaded.

Each search engine, when a user makes an enquiry, refers to the word lists compiled by the spiders. Some search engines like AltaVista will list every word on every page, while others, like Google, list only tags and Meta tags. Others will base their decisions on keywords.

An important way a spider moves from one website to another is by links. When a website is linked to by another, the spider follows the link and then records all the information on the new site. This is why this book extensively covers the use of backlinks when building a website (see Part 2).

Once a search engine has an index it then ranks the sites and pages. This is done by looking at keyword density or it might be based on a system of weighting. The latter varies from search engine to search engine, but is used as a quality control filter. This means some search engines might give better index ranking positions to academic sites than say to blogs on the same subjects. Weighting can also be applied negatively to sites that the search engine deems to be a spam site, a copy site or to sites that aim to distort their position by posting masses of cheap, badly written content.

In order to perform well, your site needs to follow the above rules on SEO techniques and the rules below on backlinks.

[/toggle][toggle open=”false” title=”What is SEO?”]

Ever wondered why some websites rank better than the others do? It is because of a powerful web content technique called Search Engine Optimization, which is usually shortened to SEO. This is the art of increasing your site’s natural search engine ranking, so that you rank high in the right searches.

For example, if your company sells vacuum cleaners you would expect to rank well when people look for vacuum cleaner websites. Ranking well is important because the majority of users only click on links to sites on the first page. Furthermore, it can be argued that most only click on the sites at the top of the page.

Successful SEO depends on a variety of factors. These include such elements outlined in section 1.3, such as keywords, titles, tags and internal link structures. It also depends on how each specific search engine operates (see section 1.2) and what their expectations are.

There are, however, some safe means of ensuring your website ranks well and we will teach you how to employ those techniques. Above all those little tricks and trades, one thing is clearly important and that is quality. Modern search engines expect sites to contain quality content that is useful, factually correct and not solely designed for sales purposes (except shop fronts and selling areas of course).

 [/toggle][toggle open=”false” title=”What are the different types of SEO?”]

There are a number of types of SEO. They are as follows:

1 Keywords

2 Tagging

3 Image Search Optimization (ISO)

4 Internal Linking

1 keywords

Keywords are often seen as one of the most important elements of SEO. Quite simply, a keyword is a brightly colored flag sticking out of the haystack with the words “needle here” emblazoned on it. But at the same time, it is pointless having such a flag if the needle is not there and especially if there is no needle.

Over the last decade or so, the importance of keywords has varied and so has the rules concerning their distribution. In the early days, search engines would pick up all words in a text. This meant that a high-ranking site would turn up in search results for terms mentioned in its text, but which were not important to the content.

This changed to a system where keywords were denoted on account of their repetition. This meant the spiders would assess a text, remove functional words and concentrate on repeated vocabulary.

An Example of Keyword Stuffing:

Vacuum cleaners clean carpets. Vacuum cleaners clean all surfaces. You need vacuum cleanersVacuum cleaners can be cheap or expensive. Good deals on vacuum cleaners are really good. You should buy high quality vacuum cleaners at low prices. In conclusion, buy vacuum cleaners!”

This led to keyword stuffing, or an attempt to make a work rank higher by filling a text with keywords above and far beyond how they would be distributed in a normal text. Search Engine updates such as Google’s Panda in 2011, were created to equate keyword stuffing, an over natural abundance of repeated terms, with spamming.

Before you do anything, you need to know what words you want to rank for which means finding out what words your target customers search for in the search engines. Once you know the words that relate to the products or services you provide, these will then become your ‘keywords’. Only when you know them, can you target them.

Advice varies from site to site on the frequency of modern keywords and keyword phrases, but it is generally good to have one keyword or keyword phrase per 100 words of text and no more.

Keywords can come as single words or as phrases. A keyword phrase tends to include a cluster or concentration of keyword nouns. For example “cheap reusable bags” or “high quality graphics.” The more specific keyword phrases tend to work better for smaller sites than using single keywords. This is because large multinational companies naturally have a higher rating, larger websites and so on.

Your prime objective should be finding the most relevant keywords and keyword phrases for your webpage. As this is page based, you can have different keyword phrases for each page, so long as they remain relevant.

First, before you write your page, make sure you understand what the page is about and what it is trying to say. Also, think about the title. A functional title means you can use the prime keyword phrase in the title line, and then repeat it in the webpage itself.

Second, write the page page’s content with the keywords in mind. Try to include the keywords once every two paragraphs on average. Of course, this means you can include such a phrase twice in one paragraph, so long as it is balanced. It is also advisable to try to use the phrase in your opening line if possible.

Warning: avoid shoehorning phrases into unnatural situations. This means you may often have to use variations on the phrase. Variations are usually used for grammatical or syntax reasons, such as changing the tense or pluralizing a word. This is fine because the keyword phrase has changed and represents a secondary keyword phrase.

Edit your webpage and check the keyword density. If you have around 430 words, then you should have around five repetitions of the keyword phrase.

Another tool at your disposal is the secondary or even tertiary keyword phrase. Used less often than the primary keyword phrase and never used in the title or the first line, the secondary keyword phrase gives you a second opportunity to highlight keywords for the spiders to find.

In order to generate a secondary phrase re-read your webpage and look for any repeated themes or ideas. For example, a page on vacuum cleaners might often talk about certain accessories. Alternatively, if your primary angle of the page is the vacuum cleaner’s low cost, you might also repeat its power, its convenience or other features.

Similar rules for keywords apply to secondary keyword phrases. They should not be stuffed into the text and should not be shoehorned into the wrong sentences.

Before posting the webpage brainstorm any other keyword ideas that come to mind. English, for example, is one of those languages where there are many ways to say the same thing. This means it is very useful for you to keep a thesaurus handy because, for example, while you may want to sell vacuum cleaners, British clients might be googling hoovers and might not find your site.

2 Tagging

Tagging is a way of linking certain keywords to your text without having to use them in the text itself. The origin of this term comes from spray-paint graffiti artists who would put their name or signature on a piece, which they called tagging. The internet version, however, of tagging webpages is not so antisocial and when done right, is not seen as a blight on society.

There are several different ways of employing tags to a webpage. The first type is the Meta tags, the second is the description tag and finally there is the title tag.

Meta Tags

Meta tags, also called Meta elements, are contained within the HTML code, the code behind your page that allows web browsers to reproduce how your page looks, that helps to describe some facets of your page to search engines. These short notes are located within the header of the HTML code and they should not be over looked.

Meta tags can be used to define a number of parts of your webpage. For example:

1) <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html” >

This is used to define the header of your text. All you have to do is replace “content type” with the header title.

2) <meta name=”keywords” content=”wikipedia,encyclopedia” >

The keywords code is used for your keywords as described previously.

3) <meta name=”zipcode” content=”45212,45208,45218″ >

By entering your zip or postal code, you can add the location of your business. This is vital for location-based businesses.

4) <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=UTF-8″ >


This is the Meta for basic text.

In the 1990s, search engines used Meta data to categorize websites and to correctly catalogue them. Marketing companies then caught on and used the Meta data as a means of promoting the website on the sly. In modern times, the Meta tags are less respected by spiders and so should be used with only the facts, no spam.

Description Tag

The description tag is a short informational piece that describes either your webpage or your website. Description boxes turn up all over the place from websites to page descriptions on Facebook and description boxes in advert submission pages. As the picture shows you above, a good description that fits a keyword search perfectly will give you two lines of text on a Google search return. This could be the difference between getting a hit and getting missed.

There are simple rules to follow when writing a description tag:

First, decide upon a single keyword or keyword phrase.

Second, keep the description short and focused.

Third, edit the description to make sure it uses simple sentences.

Fourth, do not spam it with keywords

Fifth, do not make a sales pitch, but go for accuracy instead.


Title Tag

The title tag is simply the title piece of your page. This should appear in two places. First, at the top of your webpage and second, in the URL bar at the top of the browser.

When you create the webpage, you will need to create a place for it within your website. This means you need to know the title of your page before you create it. Keep the title simple and functional as such titles are easier for search engines to pick up.

As the above picture demonstrates. The page title and the URL should be simple and similar. Many webpages can be defined by their function such as “about us” and “contact us” or “products,” while blog posts are subject based such as “meet the vacuum 500” and so on.

Some webpage creation platforms such as WordPress will allow you to change the URL of a given page or blog post. Furthermore, you can decide how you want the URL to be defined. This means as well as including the title, you can add the date the page or post was added to the URL to help search engines place it.

You will find this under permalink settings in the Settings section of your WordPress dashboard at the bottom left:

As you can see, there are five structural options. The first is the default setting which uses a random code. The second uses the day the post was published and the name of the post, the third uses month and name, the fourth is numeric and the fifth can be customized. If you are uncomfortable with customization we suggest you use “day and name” or “month and name.”


3 Image Search Optimization (ISO)

Image Search Optimization, or ISO, is related to SEO, but is related to image searches. Perhaps some people will wonder why searching for a photograph, cartoon or diagram is important for your website, well, many image searches lead directly to people accessing the website where from the image originates.

First, you need to choose your images wisely. There are no set rules for choosing images, but you have to bear in mind several factors.

First, is the image suitable for your viewers? Take into consideration your likely customer and fan base, plus rules and restrictions on content. Adult content, for example, is not for everyone.

Second, check whether you have the legal right to use the image. If you are not using the image in a commercial sense, you may be ok. Google’s Advanced Image Search (for example), allows you to filter out images that cannot be reused. If the image will be used commercially, then you can filter in only images that are labeled for commercial reuse.

Third, consider the story the picture is telling. Does this picture accurately reflect the content of your web page? Furthermore, does it look right when compared to the background, the website’s layout and other aesthetic features?

When you add an image to your page, you might be presented with a box like this (from WordPress). ISO is far simpler than SEO. In order to optimize your image you need to:

1. Provide a link URL to your photo. The best options are either by first putting your photo on a social photo sharing network like Flickr, or by linking back to where you go the image from (if you did not take it/make it yourself)

2. Add a few relevant tags to the image.

3. Add a brief description of the image and how it relates to the content in the article.


4 Internal Linking

Internal linking defines the internal structure of your website. Think of it as the tendons of your body, linking muscles to bones and vice versa, or like the smaller internal strands of a spider web.

There are several techniques for linking pages and blog posts together within your website. However, remember one thing, you do not have to link every page to at least one other page. If you include a plugin or program such as Google XTML Sitemaps, you can make sure pages are found within your site regardless of their connectivity.

Techniques include:

Menus are one of the most obvious forms of internal linking. Your menus structure depends on how many pages you have. Typically, this means having a small menu at the top of the page beneath the header and/or a sidebar menu on the left or right. These contain the titles and links for the main areas of your website. Larger sites will include drop down sub-menus that link to smaller pages. Of course, it is possible to have sub-sub-menus, but be conscious of making the site too complicated or labyrinthine.

In-Text Links

This is the most subtle way of linking pages and adverts into a web page. To create an internal link or hyperlink, simply highlight a relevant word (for example the product name), right-click in a word document or click the chain image and then paste the target URL. You can use these within the main text or as a “see also” section at the end.


Tags and Categories

Many blogs and site building software programs allow the user to denote the category of the page or post, and to add tags (as discussed in 1.22). Some platforms like WordPress allow you to add a sidebar element (called a widget) that lists the categories and creates a tag cloud of the most popular tags.



A sitemap literally provides users with a map of the whole site including pages that are not directly linked to other ones. The easiest way to do this is to install a program such as Google XTML Sitemaps or to ask your web designers to do this for you.

The sitemap will allow users to follow a spider diagram like a blueprint. They will see how each section locks into another and how pages flow into other pages.

[/toggle][toggle open=”false” title=”What are backlinks?”]

Backlinks are connections that link one website or webpage with another. As mentioned in the previous chapter, search engines employ spider programs to hop from one page to another. They do this by crawling along links from one site to another. Backlinks, therefore, are a crucial way for you to link your website to the internet and to attract spiders.

Of course, it is no longer as easy as filling your site with backlinks and sitting back as the web searches pour in. Modern search engines are cleverer than that and you will need to implement a varied approach as outlined in section three. This section will outline the different types of backlinks and their value.

[/toggle][toggle open=”false” title=”How do you set up a basic backlink?”]

It is very easy to set up a basic backlink. When you have written a page’s worth of content or added a post to your blog, save the draft, but do not leave the editing page.
Open a second window or tab on your internet browser and find a linked page within your website. For example, you have just written a product update on your blog, so go to the product’s description page on your website’s catalog.

Now highlight the URL at the top of your browser and copy it. Go back to your edit page for your new blog post and highlight the name of your product. Now you can add a hyperlink. This can be done either by right-clicking on the highlighted word or by using a hyperlink button on your web design program’s option menu. Paste the link in and save the page.

When people access your page, they will see the name of your product highlighted in a different color (like blue). If they click on the word, their browser will take them to the product page in your catalog.

This is known as an internal link or onsite backlink. This does not attach your site to another website, but it does improve the interconnectivity of your website and therefore, makes it easier for spiders to find their way around your webpages.

[/toggle][toggle open=”false” title=”What’s an ‘offsite’ backlink?”]

Off page, SEO is basically your advanced Backlink building strategy. If your site has no incoming links from other websites, your site will not be included in search engine indexes.

The best backlinks are those that come naturally as a result of great content. Your website must contain high quality, useful, timely content that people will actually want to link to. This occurs when a user links to your page on their blog, on their social network or on a social bookmarking site. Such links are considered passive and you cannot control how people react to your content, but you can tailor it to meet demands and to raise interest. These, however, are not the only links you should consider. There are many possible ways to generate links.

Your primary objective should be to diversify and increase your qualified traffic sources. Diversity is the name of the game with modern linking strategies. The simple ways to build backlinks are outlined in Section 3 of this book. In short, they include web directories, advertising, blog and forum comments, content websites and social networks.

Before you consider those different types of offsite backlinks, it is worth considering what links are good and what are not. The subsequent sections will cover some of these issues.

[/toggle][toggle open=”false” title=”Can you explain the difference between a high PR and low PR backlink?”]

The ranking of a backlink to your site depends on the site’s PR (Page Rank) value. If a site with a PR value of five or above links to your site, then you are doing well.

Keeping this in mind, it is definite that you would want to have a high PR Backlink to your site from a premium site. The effectiveness of this Backlink definitely depends on the PR the site carries.

You cannot get a strong link unless you know what establishes a strong Backlink. A strong Backlink is obtainable from PR 6 or 7 or more. Thence, if only your site has a link from a site, that has a PR 6 or 7, then consider yourself having a strong Backlink.

How to find high PR pages to get a strong Backlink?

There are various sites that have a PR of over 6. In order to find out the PR of a particular site, SEO tool come handy. They are easy to access and provide guaranteed results. For instance, if you want to search a particular keyword or perhaps key-phrases then do so on a search engine and you will find out which pages are ranking high at the moment. Furthermore, you can compare the results from different search engines.

When you look for sites to get backlinks from or if you want to find out which sites are backlinking to you, then you can search for PR ranking sites that will let you know how various sites are performing.

It is certainly possible to submit your site to sites like myspace.com, metacafe.com, propeller.com and others, but groundwork has to be done before you top their lists or perhaps appear in their first pages.

The groundwork that is referred above is the fact that you must ensure that your website is done correctly. Your tags should be organized and appropriately chosen in order to het the Backlink for these high PR sites.

The advantage of having a strong Backlink from a high PR site is that it will increase your PR in the search engines. Hence, to conclude, if you wish to rank high on search engines, your best bet is to:

1. Create your website correctly

2. Organize and appropriately choose your tags

3. Get links for a high PR site!

Will Low PR Backlinks hurt your online presence?

The answer is probably not. Low PR Backlinks will certainly not hurt your online presence but it will not do you any good either. You may have several low PR Backlinks yet it will not raise your PR as fast as a high PR Backlink would do.

However, you must keep in mind that having too many high PR Backlinks can make search engines suspicious. Make sure you are not being linked to by spam websites. Your best bet is to keep your site as natural looking as possible, hence have a mix of both high and low PR Backlink to avoid being considered spam.

[/toggle][toggle open=”false” title=”What’s the difference between a do-follow and no-follow backlink?”]

There are two more ways of defining a backlink; these are “Do-follow” links and “No-follow” links.

A “Do-follow” Link is a hyperlink that is in a position to tell search engines to pass along its page rank authority to an outbound link.

A “No-follow” Link is exactly the opposite. This is a hyperlink that removes the ability to pass on its page rank status to other sites.

How do “Do-follow” and “No-follow” Links Work?

In order to read a webpage and search for content, a Google Spider will visit and read through websites. While doing so, it will regard links with a “do-follow” feature and exclude any links with a “no-follow” attribute. Therefore, your PR will get better with Bing or Yahoo if the spider likes what they see on a “do-follow” site. Moreover, if they come across a “no-follow” link, they will fail to respond to it and thence harm your online presence.

In conclusion, search engines will improve your rank in the search results if you have more backlinks from high PR sites. The more the “do-follow” links to your sites, the better and higher you will rank on Google and the other search engines.

Where to Place No-follow or Do-follow Backlinks:

Sites, which are updated frequently, and those that have high traffic is where you should aim at posting. This will obtain you better search engines status as well as a higher Page Rank. However, one key point to remember is that your web content should match the content of the site that you intent to post in since search engines will be on the lookout for related backlinks.

In conclusion, when adding either no-follow or do-follow backlinks your objective should be to have as many quality and related backlinks to your sites as possible to help improve your search engine rankings and your authority status on Google!

Reasons for using No-Follow Links

No-follow links are useful if you want to link out to a site with questionable content, adult content or employs questionable linking tactics. You can also use no-follow links to stop spiders getting to sites that you feel have enough links of their own like Hacker Safe or sites you have to pay to get their badge on your site. Such sites do not need your link.

Also, use these links if you are creating a page that does not need a webpage ranking. This can be an internal page, a small function page or a page that is only needed by people who already know


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