How Search Engines Determine Your Website’s Value
Everybody is interested in getting their page to the number 1 spot, us included! Search engine optimization is the practice of making your website as ‘valuable’ as possible in the eyes of Google, and is a huge industry. Like anything else that’s popular, the industry has its fair share of shady dealings with people touting almost unbelievable claims as to what they can do for your website’s placement, and many people get taken from buying the internet’s version of snake oil. Here we are covering the basics of search engine optimization and how search engines work and see your site, to prevent others from being taken as well.
Sitemaps, Bots, and Search Engines
Once we finish a website and bring it online, we register all websites with the three major search engines (the only ones that really matter)- Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft / Bing. We create a sitemap that lists every page and submit it as well; this helps the search engines to efficiently navigate the website. Over the next week, each search engine will send a bot to ‘crawl’ or scan the entire website, and look for information on what that website is all about. This is what keeps websites that are about cooking from showing up when you’re searching for information on graphic design. The bots that crawl websites compile the information presented on your website, make determinations based on the prevalence of, for example, repeated words (in our case, ‘web design’,) look at the different links on the page and where they go, and sends all this information back to the mainframe. Based on the over 200 different details and bits of criteria (which are constantly changing) that the bots pick up, search engines determine how relevant your website is to the subject at hand.
Recently, Google has released some more specific information on how the valuation determination is made. Links to social media are extremely important; search engines want to know that you’re alive and active. Most importantly, be an ‘expert in your field’; search engines look for how many other sites point to your website. As an example, a local medical specialist’s website that has inbound links from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, and the Mayo Clinic will be much more highly regarded than another website that doesn’t. Search engines assign a score based on inbound links like these, that help them create a numerical value based on the value of the linking site. Mayo Clinic will have a tremendous numerical value increase, while the local yellow pages directory may only be incremental. One of the best ways to increase this value yourself is with old-fashioned legwork; if your business has national organizations or governing bodies that you’re a member of, they typically have a searchable database for users, and will add you on the membership list if you provide them with your information. Having several of these higher-level links can do great things for your website’s value.
These are the main talking points of search engine optimization; although entire dissertations could be written on the subject, we hope this guide can help you spot red flags in the SEO industry.
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