What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Wikipedia explains search engine optimisation as, “the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.”

Simply put, search engine optimisation (SEO) is the art of getting a website to work better with search engines like Google, Yahoo, BING etc.

A short history...

Prior to the development of search engines, the Internet was a collection of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites which users navigated to find specific shared files. With the growth of a central list of web servers joining the internet, the world wide web became the interface choice for accessing the internet. With this, the need for finding and organising data on FTP web servers also grew giving birth to the first search engines.

The primary purpose that the search engines serve is to find and organise distributed data found on the Internet. The year of the advent of search engines was 1990 when Alan Emtage, a student at McGill University in Montreal, created Archie. It sparked an online revolution and many new-and-improved search engines followed in the shape of searchable database of websites. While both web directories and search engines gained popularity in the 1990s, the latter developed a life of their own becoming the preferred method of Internet search. For example, the major search engines found in use today originated in development between 1993 and 1998.

Here’s a brief chronology of the search engine development: 1993 – Excite, Yahoo!, WebCrawler!, Lycos, Infoseek; 1995 – Altavista; 1997 –Ask Jeeves (now Ask); 1997 – Google; 1998 – MSN; 1998 – Overture; 1999 – Alltheweb

It was also in 1994 that companies began experimenting with the concept of search engine optimisation; with the early emphasis begin solely on the submission process. However, within 12 months, the first automated submission software packages were released, and shortly afterwards the concept of spam reared its ugly head for the first time, as eager webmasters quickly realised that (at this time) they could swamp search results pages by over-submission. Search engines soon realised this, and spammers began their bothersome work in earnest.

Soon, optimisers and search engines developed a "cat and mouse" relationship. As many web site optimisers discover new ranking techniques, the engines subsequently revise and enhance their ranking "algorithms" - software they use for calculation, data processing and automated deduction - to respond to these strategies. Often this struggle is catalysed by a small portion of submitters abusing accepted practices in an unethical manner, and SEO companies that know what they are doing are forced into two camps, those that work with the search engines to achieve rankings and thereby quality traffic, and those that work against the search engines to achieve high quantities of low-quality traffic.

The search engines quickly noted that SEO as an industry was here to stay, and in order to maintain useful indexes, they would need to at least accept the industry, if not embrace it. Soon many search engines were allowing proven ethical SEO companies to become partner sites.

The benefits to your business from Search Engine Optimization

  • High return on investment

    Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, SEO brings you a higher Return On your investment than any comparable form of marketing.

  • Long term positioning

    Once in place, a properly designed and optimised site should stay in the rankings long term compared to PPC (Pay Per Click) where costs and outlay are ongoing and unpredictable.

  • Targeted traffic

    SEO can increase the number of visitors who are actively searching for your service or product.

  • Promotion that doesn't sleep

    Imagine having your own marketing and promotions company working exclusively just for you! One that toils 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days every year. That's the benefit of SEO!

  • Increase brand visibility

    SSEO can give your brand a high international profile - and for a comparatively low outlay.

  • Higher sales

    SEO can mean increased sales of your product or service.

  • Faster loading pages

    Properly validated and optimised files will be smaller and leaner, meaning less server requests/overheads and quicker download times.

  • More Cost-Effective

    SEO is among the most cost-effective ways of marketing.

  • Increased accessibility

    Observing sensible optimisation procedures can make your site more accessible to all users.

  • Cross-browser compatibility

    A properly optimised site will be as near as possible validated to high standards. This means that it works in all browsers, meaning your site may be viewed by the greatest potential number of visitors.

  • Become highly visible to search engines

    Properly optimised, all links should function correctly and all pages should be accessible to search engines, thus making your site easy for the engines to index and correctly categorise.

  • Usability

    Observing basic optimisation guidelines should mean that visitors have a more pleasant user experience.


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