The Beginner's Introduction to SEO - Blogger help, tips and hacks

The Beginner's Introduction to SEO

Here is a question for you: Would you rather have a really artistic and beautifully designed website or an ugly and very plain looking one? Well obviously you would naturally pick the pretty one right? However, here is a second question: Would you rather show up on the first page of major search engines like Google and Yahoo or on the 20th page? Of course you want to be on page one!

Well, as SEO experts already know, there is a big problem with the two answers. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to beginners, the more fancy jazz you put on your website, the more difficult it becomes to rank high in the search engines. Why?

First, let's talk about how search engines operate. All of the major automated search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN use what are called spiders, robots, or crawlers. The three names are used interchangeably, but are referring to the same thing. These are essentially programmed "bots" which "crawl" (scan and analyze) the contents of your website. The data that they collect is then processed using a complex algorithm that determines page rank. Nobody knows exactly what the crawlers are looking for, but we do know that some of the important elements they look at are the title, meta tags, and keywords in the site's body. Backlinks are extremely important too, but this article will focus only on site content.

So what's wrong with a "pretty" site? When the spiders crawl through your website, it does not see what the human eye sees. Rather, it examines the HTML (or XML) code line by line. If you right-click on this page and click on "View Source" you will see exactly what the crawlers will "see". For those who aren't proficient with HTML/XML, it probably looks like a whole lot of gibberish. Many of the fancy websites we see use a lot of Flash animation and JAVA script. Do you know what this does? It turns this gibberish into even more complicated nonsense. These flashy websites (pun fully intended) create confusion even for the spiders. They cannot properly process information in flash, JAVA, or DHTML. It will hinder their navigation of your site, and sometimes they will miss entire sections of your site. Because the crawler could not identify important parts of the website, the site's rankings will suffer greatly.

So what's the solution? Simple is better. You want clearly defined H1 and H2 tags with keywords and using a proper logical construction is imperative. Though the site may end up looking more mediocre, the sheer volume of visitors will compensate for it. I have several friends who own internet businesses. I know that the one with the ugliest looking site. It looks very very plain with absolutely nothing exciting about it at all. It's nearly all regular text and sometimes I wonder if his 10 year old son put it together. Of all the people I personally know, he is the only one who owns a site that appears on the first page of Google search for multiple common search terms. His page also ranks high in Yahoo and MSN. You know what? His site generates plenty of business every month of the year and he does not spend any effort or money to advertise.

As we can see, the benefits of showing up on the first page of a search result is priceless. Think about when you search for something. You almost immediately click on one of the top five results. Not very many people ever make it past page 2 or 3 of a search. So if your wondefully designed site shows up on page 10, then you're just out of luck because the guy or gal with the ugly one is getting the traffic.

If you want to learn more about SEO, there are plenty of great articles and free resources out there. You should not have to pay hundreds of dollars to have someone do it for you because they are probably ripping you off. Of course if you want to, it's your money and that's up to you. However, I would advise you to do some research on your own first.

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