Thursday, August 12, 2010

Content rules, but only the textual kind

The second chapter (How SEO works) of Michael Miller's Complete idiot's Guide to SEO is now history. That history was made while we were waiting for WT to sit for his driving test at a local DMV office this morning. Before that, we made him drive us round the carpark where the office is located and the adjacent road several times just to get him acclimatized to the route and traffic setting. And it paid off. A huge thumb-up sign from him at the end of his driving test announced another new legal driver on the road.

OK, back to the second chapter. In two words, Content Rules. Not just any content, but the textual kind, relegating the non-textual genre to irrelevance, at least for now until such time as and when some kind of image recognition capability is achieved.

The chapter is about what search engines look for and armed with that knowledge, how one can optimize the website to provide strategically, repeatedly, and refreshingly what these search engines look for, which are tuned to users' needs. That means also understanding what people in general look for.

In this respect, search engines can be viewed as a match maker, trying to consummate a marriage of sort that is only made in heaven, both parties' wishes fulfilled: the user's query is answered, and the website gets its top ranking.

Crawlers and searchbots, the unseen sniffers that prowl the cyberspace dispatched by the Search Engine Enterprise, are busy and impatient beings and do not linger long on any abodes of the internet denizens (think home page). They have got a zillion places to cover and therefore only look for what that are trained to do at selecetd places to send the content back to the Mothership. And there are three staples in this mix: keywords, HTML tags, and links.

Keywords are descriptors of items that are of interest to the users. HTML tags are codes that structure the website both for viewing and underlying it all, for providing a detailed schematic of where things are kept in a neat hierarchical arrangement. Not all HTML tags are created the same and the trick is know which are the favorite hangouts of these crawlers or spiders during their brief sojourn. Fortunately for people for do not bother with HTML coding like yours truly, structure means there is a well-defined path to follow and even the uninitiated is unlikely to go wrong in identifying these alcoves.

Links are connections or conduits that point to another webpage. Apparently, the more the merrier is the motto here suggestive of a popularity contest. To a point, since quality and relevance matter as well. Links have become a commodity that one can actually buy them, abiding by the economic model that where there is a demand, there will be a supply.

It would appear that SEO is nothing more than manipulating the keywords, the HTML tags, and the links to work in concert to improve a website's search ranking. And to that end, Michael Miller offers ten key factors to doing just that. And the associated optimization techniques are further amplified in others chapters of the book, plus a whole slew of other things that one can try.

And in the final analysis, it's all about trying. No venture no gain. Let the adventure begin. Mine started with the tinkling of this blog' visual look by experimenting with several HTML codes in the blog template, albeit at a rudimentary level. Yes, taking baby steps is good.

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