Search Engine Optimisation: Top of the Pops is Back!

The Internet Search Engine market is a competitive environment, and therefore constantly changing. No two search engines work in exactly the same way, with each constantly trying to figure out how best to find quality sites over then inevitable dross.

Firstly, in many cases there is no need to pay to be listed in the search engines, or at least not the major ones. They pride themselves on listing as much of the internet as they can find, and sorting out the results for any given query so that the 'best match' comes first.

There are thousands of search engines out there, but many have specialist audiences or are too fringe to require much attention. Some of these may have paid for submission procedures, but these should only be considered if your market requires it. And of course like with any busines directory, they should be able to prove their audience numbers and results.

The major search engines use various techniques to figure out what your page content means, but for the most part sensible page markup is the most important aid that you can use. This lies deep in the heart of the HTML formats, and simply means that you should use the provided 'flags' to indicate what your content means. Headings, lists, emphasis etc. all add 'semantic' weight to your content, and should be used correctly to ensure that the search engine can 'read' your page just like a human user.

If we look at Google as an example, they base their search result order on their PageRank. PageRank is determined through an algorithm that studies various aspects of your page such as if it is linked to, how semantic that mark up in respects to the query terms, and frequency of page updates, amongst other techniques. This helps it build a picture of how 'authoritive' your page is compared to another, and thus the 'rank' or order in which you page is listed amongst others.

Perhaps one of the most certain ways of gaining PageRank is to be linked to by others, especially if those people also have high PageRank, and if the nature of the link matches the query terms used.

Other search engines use similar techniques to determine the rank of one page over another. To simply list all pages that match the query terms in any order would not acheive much in terms of satisfaction for the user.