SEO for beginners

Chief NutStarred Page By Chief Nut, 6th Dec 2009 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/iul21wpt/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Using Wikinut>Promoting Wikinut

You may have heard about a strange and mysterious practice called SEO... read on to find out how basic Search Engine Optimatisation can improve your Wikinut earnings.

How search engines work

First, a quick bit of background about search engines such as Google and Bing. They work by using automated computer programs to surf the web and record a snapshot of each page. As these programs crawl the web, they are known as spiders.

Once a page has been crawled, the search engine then uses software to analyse the page content and try to work out what the page is about. It does this primarily by looking at the words used on the page, what the title is, what images are called and so on. The technology is now very clever and can determine the difference between a page about a river (amazon, water, rainforest) and one about an online shop (amazon, books, presents).

Then the search engine looks at a few other things such as which other sites are linking to the page, how old it is, which domain it sits on. All these are combined in a very clever algorithm written by people with lots of PHDs, and it is this that works out which sites to list in the top ten when you search for a particular word or phrase.

And they do this for literally billions of pages...

Basically they are exceptionally clever bits of software that make surfing the web a whole lot easier.

So what is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimatisation, is the name given to techniques used by people to try and get as high in the search listings as possible. After all, appearing in first position means you'll get a lot more traffic than coming 126th.

As the search engines use formulas to work out the rankings, if you can improve an aspect of your page that influences the formula you've got a great change of ranking higher. That's all it is. Nothing more black magic than that.

So give me some beginner SEO advice

OK, think about the elements of your Wikinut page that help describe its content. A quick list would be:

  1. The title
  2. The section titles
  3. Your image captions
  4. Your chosen page tags
  5. Pages that link into your page
  6. Pages to which your pages links

What you need to do is to think about what words or phrases you would search for if you were looking for your own page. Because chances are your readers will be using the same types of words.

Then simply try to incorporate these into your page. This means you'll have more chance of getting top of the rankings than if you used less common terminology. Don't become over mechanical, you should still try to write compelling content for your readers. But try to weave the keywords into your copy.

In terms of links, think about relevant pages that you could link out to. A Wikipedia article maybe, or a specialist site that covers your page topic. And for links in, well they are harder but you may want to mention your page on a forum that you use reguarly. Although remember, don't spam as that is against our terms of use.

If you want to move onto the next step, read our article about how to use Google to find SEO keywords.

I've heard about meta tags and keywords...

Ah, you've entered SEO in the year 1999... these used to be important parts of search engine optimisation but things have moved on since then.

A bit of background - metadata is data that describes data. So back when search engines were not very good at working out the subject of a page, they relied more heavily on the user telling them.

So if I wrote a page about the Amazon river, I could add metadata into my page full of words and phrases such as river, south america, rain forest, brazil and so on. This data was not readily visible to humans, but easily consumed by spiders.

However, this was a very simple system to manipulate. So I could have a site that actually sold car insurance but stuff the metadata full of keywords about more interesting topics. So I might use terms such as Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears and other things that my target market of 18 - 30 year old men might be searching for...

As search technology became more advanced, the engines became far less reliant on being told what the page subject was and far better at working it out. With the result that metadata is now all but redundant from and SEO perspective.

Isn't SEO a bit dodgy?

as i've just described, when search engines were a lot simpler people used to use various nefarious techniques to improve their positions. Other methods included things such as repeating key words dozens of time, or putting targetted phrases in white text on a white background so that humans couldn't read it but the spiders could.

These techniques are now frowned upon and will do your ranking more harm than good.

But that doesn't mean that SEO is bad - consider it this way. SEO is all about making your page as relevant as it can be. And search engines are basically trying to provide their users with the most relevant results possible - after all, if your search engine continually throws up irrelevant sites you'll head off to use another one.

So SEO has know reached a point where site owners and search engines understand their relationship and treat it as a win/win situation.

Tags

Guides, Help, Promotion, Search Engine Optimisation, Seo, Wikinut

Meet the author

author avatar Chief Nut
Overly excited co-founder, keen to share the buzz so please get Wikinutting and give us some feedback! I'll be writing about new features as we add them to the site, and a few other topics as well.

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