The SEO Notebook: Renzie Dabbles Into Search Engine Optimization, Pt. 1

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Welcome to my series of notebooks on Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. No, I am no expert- I'm just a regular dude trying to understand this entirely new craft. These notebooks are for fellow "newbies" at SEO. I've compiled these notes, partially from what I do at work (developing content and optimizing sites for an Australian-based online retailer), but more from personal research, and to a lesser extent, what I have observed thus far.

Comments and questions are welcome. I will do my best to answer them, or at least point you to where you can get your answers.

That being said, let's all learn some SEO, shall we?


Search Engine Optimization is defined by Wikipedia as:

The science and art of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a particular web site from search engines via natural search results.
Natural (or organic) search results are the ones to the left of a search engine results page, or SERP. These are pure, unadulterated search results based on what people are actually typing into their search engine windows on Google, Yahoo, or whatever search engine then have, as opposed to paid ad results on the right of a SERP.

SEO is but a part of internet marketing (which we'll probably review more of later on). Among other things, SEO considers:
  • how search algorithms work; or simply, what people actually search for
  • a site's coding, presentation and structure
  • possible issues that could prevent search engines from fully spidering (meaning, browsing and indexing for searchers to see) a site.
  • new content, which is easily indexed (or spidered!)
Effective SEO may require changes to the HTML source code of a site, therefore affecting web site development and design as well. We'll deal more of this later on.

The goal of any SEO practitioner is to go "search-engine friendly". This applies not only to website designs, but to menus, content management systems and shopping carts as well. As early as now, I'd like to point out: try to avoid Black Hat SEO or spamdexing. It 's really more like dabbling in the dark side of SEO. This practice uses link farms and keyword stuffing techniques that bloats your results. More sophisticated search engines already consider this! Plus, it may ruin long-term customer satisfaction.

You want to do the exact opposite: set your site up so it can create a positive experience for your customers, thus encouraging return traffic, better word-of-mouth and linkage, and better interactivity.

White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO

I personally advocate sticking to White Hat SEO. It produces results that last a long time, as I have mentioned above. So create content for users, not for search engines. Conform to search engines' guidelines; make your content easily accessible to spiders, rather than toying with the search algorithm. And more importantly: no misrepresentations!

More SEO topics for discussion later on. Part 2 of the ongoing SEO Notebook Project will cover a brief history of SEO, and SEO as a marketing tool.


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