SEO: Intro

One of the frequent support issues we deal with at StatCounter goes like this:

“Hi! I just installed StatCounter but it’s broken. It’s not recording any visitors. Can you fix this?”

The thing is, StatCounter is usually running just fine… Instead the “problem” is that the site is NOT getting any visitors…when we explain this to the member, the next question is usually:

“So, how do I get visitors to my site?”

Although we are definitely not SEO experts, we have picked up some tips and tricks over the years about how to publicise your site and drive traffic to it.

In a new series of blog posts on the theme of “SEO for the Complete Beginner” we’re going to share with you some of what we have learned…

What is SEO?
SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) involves optimizing your website so that it ranks highly in Search Engines.

Ranking highly in a Search Engine means your site is displayed in the top 10 or 20 sites which appear when a person does a relevant search.

For example, if I own a baking website, I want my site to appear on Page 1 of the Search Engine listings when someone seaches for relevant baking terms e.g. chocolate cake recipe.

Why is it important to Rank Highly in a Search Engine?
It’s estimated that there are over 170 million web sites on the Internet, with more being launched every single day.

Generally when you type anything into a search engine, you get thousands of results, displayed on hundreds of different pages… Take this search – chocolate cake recipe – in Google it returned 534,000 results, displayed over thousands of pages.

As you can imagine, if your site is number 50,000 in the list, you’re not going to get anyone visiting! Who’s going to search through 5000 pages of search results, when they can find what they are looking for on Page 1 or Page 2?

Equally, if your site is number 50 on the list, you are STILL not going to get any visits from this search! Why? Because people seldom look beyond Page 1 of the search results. They almost NEVER look beyond Page 2. So if your site is on Page 3 or lower of the search engine results, no-one is ever really going to find (or visit) your site via a Search Engine…

Note that not everyone places great importance on SEO! If you have a personal or hobby website that you only share with family and friends, then ranking highly in search engines is probably NOT important to you.

If instead, you run a business website selling products or services or if you earn money via online advertising, then ranking highly in Search Engines is probably very important to you. This is because one of the most common ways for someone to find a website is by using a Search Engine. The higher your Search Engine rank, the easier it is for potential customers to find your site, the more visitors your site gets, the more business you can do, the more money you can make!

How do I get a High Search Engine Ranking for my site then?
THAT is the key question.

There are numerous factors that can influence your site’s position in Search Engine rankings – and it’s these various factors that we are going to explain over the coming months.

You should note though that getting your site to rank highly in Search Engines is not a “one-off” job – your position in the rankings can change on a daily basis so you need to keep watch.

How do I get started then with SEO?

Basic SEO is not difficult and doesn’t require vast programming knowledge or particular computer skills… but you DO need to understand a bit about how Search Engines work.

So, How DO Search Engines Work?

While all Search Engines work in different ways there are some basics about Search Engines that you should understand.

  1. Crawling
    Search Engines collect data about your website by sending a “spider” (also known as a “crawler”, “bot”, or “robot”) to visit the site. A spider “crawls” your site’s pages following links from one page to the next. It then extracts and analyzes the details about the content on each page.

    Note: a website is a collection of one of more web pages; the StatCounter website (or site) is made up of hundreds of individual webpages (or pages) e.g. – the homepage – the advertising page – the help page
  2. Indexing
    Using the information collected by the spider, your site is “indexed” by the Search Engine. In other words, information about your site is stored in the Search Engine database.

  3. Displaying Search Results
    When someone requests information from the Search Engine, the Search Engine looks up its index or database of websites and identifies which sites match the search query. In our earlier example, Google looked up the term – chocolate cake recipe – and found 534,000 sites all of which contained the words “chocolate”, “cake” and “recipe”.

    All the sites that “match” the search term (in the example – chocolate cake recipe) are then sorted by the Search Engine (using its specific algorithm) and displayed in order of importance. The most relevant site is displayed in the #1 position, the next most relevant in the #2 position etc.


Search Engine A tool used to search the web. Examples include Google, Yahoo and Ask.
A computer program that visits Web sites and reads their pages and other information in order to gather information for a search engine.
Search Engine Algorithm
A complicated mathematical formula or set of rules that sorts or ranks web pages. Each search engine has its own algorithm and the details of the algorithm are a closely guarded secret.

So that’s it for our introductory post about SEO. In our next posts we will start to explain some of the things that you can do to improve your SEO and drive more traffic to your site. We’re also exploring some contacts we have in the SEO world so that we can offer you even more assistance with your SEO – we’ll keep you up-to-date on this!

As this series progresses, we hope to explain post by post about how to improve the traffic to your site. Along the way we welcome questions, comments and extra information. Newbie or expert – please feel free to join the discussion!

78 comments on “SEO: Intro

  1. Thanks for this series! I’m especially interested to know the relative importance of site content versus some of the factors you always hear about, e.g. how many other sites link to yours.

  2. Pingback: SEO: Intro
  3. Your posts will be worth gold. How much will it cost to stay updated? Will you make future posts on a monthly basis? Bi-monthly? Can I invite others to join along for the ride? I will anyway. I can’t wait to see what’s coming.

  4. Good Job Statcounter!

    Seriously it’s a great article… and I say this owning one of the largest SEO firms in the US.

    I would strongly urge the second piece of this article to be regarding content… and how it affects rankings.

    StatCounter Team Response:
    Thanks Roger!

    Really appreciate your support and ideas – as we mention in the post, we’re not SEO experts by any stretch of the imagination, but hopefully we can help shed some light on the mysteries of SEO!

  5. Now this is an excellent post! This is definitely a good way to utilize your blog! I will definitely wait for the coming SEO posts…

  6. Thanks guys for posting a very informative SEO series……..this should be most helpful for the Newbies as well as advanced webmasters.

    off topic question…….I noticed that all of your blogs inside pages dropped to a pagerank 0…….was this a Google penalty ?

    StatCounter Team Response:

    Hi Vectorpedia,

    We actually recently changed the naming structure of our blog posts – they used to be ordered by number, now they are done by name – this means that the pages are yet to be indexed (again) by the search engines. That’s probably why you’re seeing a difference!

  7. For my experience the best way to learn about search engines and rankings is to discover by your self, you have to believe that you can do your self.
    Go around and learn.

    The recommendation I can live here is that don’t follow others.

    All the best with your SEO.

  8. excellent job on the post, it’s better than getting to know the employees hobbies and interests. I started my site in December from scratch and haven’t signed up for any of the SEO sites. Although i only get 1500 pageloads per month, I do rank in the top ten for a few of the top search engines, but not the #1 search engine! It is hard work and dedication and almost a year of it. It will only get better I hope.
    keep up the good work, you are doing a great job!

  9. Ah yes, the infamous “the counter must be broken” problem. The myth that people just magically arrive at your website is still alive and kicking on the boulevards of internet business. Great post 🙂

  10. Excellent article and series. Wish you good luck and I have been using Statcounter for a while now and very impressed with the data and services that has helped me to optimize my sites.

    Good luck !!
    Veena B

  11. I’ve always envied the unique access the StatCounter team has to all the stats under everyone’s account – this is grounds for some of the best SEO insight in the world and I can’t wait for the SC team to share.

  12. In my experience, content is all. My site has every postcode, phone number etc. of businesses in central Sheffield.
    When analysing the results (we get around 2000 hits per week), simply typing S1 into a search engine will get us noticed.
    Therefore, depending on the content, some sites are never going to get high placings as they’re simply not ‘content-rich’.

  13. Very good article on SEO. Search Engine Optimization is often taken for granted – investing in SEO will get your website more traffic, bring your website a higher amount of quality visitors (especially compared to other advertising methods) and increase the amount of revenue generated from your website.

    I also like the fact when you said in your article: “…to rank highly in Search Engines it is not a ‘one-off’ job – your position in the rankings can change on a daily basis so you need to keep watch.” – this is so true. For best results your website definitely needs to be optimized for search engines on a regular basis.

  14. Can wait for the next post as I really need to had my blog on higher rankings specially in the poker industry where it seems that everyday thousands of new blogs pop up. I believe that what Im offering is unique as Im giving back the refer a friend money and I call it the tuktuk poker model… not sure if I can leave the link here but I will give it a try and maybe you could have a look and leave me some feeback –

    Thank you and looking forward to read your next one!

  15. Hi,

    just drop to say that this is a weak article (not in words estructure but in the content), it’s really the beginning of website development and marketability.

    Hope to see some more in depth strategies exposed.

    StatCounter Team Response:
    Thanks for your comment Jose – but we don’t agree that the article is “weak”. As we have tried to stress, the article is the first in a series aimed at those who are new to SEO. It’s just not possible to start explaining more in-depth concepts without first putting the foundations in place. That’s what we are doing here.

  16. Please, if you can, discuss the importance of linking and link type relevance. Back when I started my SEO endeavors linking was king, however due to its abuse, apparently linking now (according to google) does not hold as much weight for page ranking. Does anybody know what’s actually going on?

  17. Looking for blogging tips, just ask the World’s Bestest SEO. It’s my category for all the SEO blogging tips I’ve tried for my WordPress based site. Most of which can translate well into any site.

  18. After Long time, i have read an really cool and excellent beginners guide about search engine optimization…Good Luck to SC team members to make it bigger one..

  19. I read a half a dozen books on SOE as I was creating my websites and it helped me get listed on Google and Yahoo quickly. For my keywords and keyword phrases I get listed in the #1 organic position 60% of the time. If I am not in position 1 then I am in positions 2, 3, 4 or 5 but I am always on the first page. To stay in these high positions I have to keep updating my website with new content and new pages. All this takes time but SOEing pays off. StatCounter provides me with tons of info about my visitors and how they spent their time during their visits. It’s also fun to see my SC results after adding a new page.

  20. In SEO I believe “Every days a school day” – I read SEO articles and blogs every day including ‘complete beginner intro’s’ and ‘advanced techniques’.
    I have to congratulate the team at statcounter blog because this is by far the best introduction to SEO I have read in a long while. This is a great article that keeps it simple for anyone to understand, cant wait to read the follow ups.. Many thanks, keep it up 🙂

  21. could i add one thought about the statcounter’s default display?

    at the moment it gives our page views as the default number on the first page. i would have thought our unique view count would be more useful here – after all, one person can refresh a page 30 times. changing to unique view would give your users a far more “stable”, and useful, display IMHO

    keep up the good work

    StatCounter Team Response:
    Hi there,

    It’s up to YOU to display pageloads or uniques on your site!

    Log into your StatCounter account. Click the “wrench” or “spanner” icon next to your project name. Click “Configure Counter” then under “Display Customisation” choose display “show unique visitors”.

    Hope this helps!

  22. re the above: “there there are no 5000 pages in any search engine lolz.”

    sure there is! go to “100” per page view – how many pages can you get on a really common search term?

  23. excellent article, people should also be aware that you can always try other forms of (such as targeted) advertising too. Go onto forums that are related to your site and add your sites URL to your signature. People do click on them and it counts as an inlink on yahoo! and posibly google (not sure about that one).

  24. @Barry W – It does count with Google but their algorithm takes a very detailed look at the page your link comes from with many factors considered into whether its a good link for you or not, relevancy is the prominent factor.

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