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.
    www.statcounter.com – the homepage
    www.statcounter.com/advertise.html – the advertising page
    www.statcounter.com/help/ – 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.


Glossary

Search Engine A tool used to search the web. Examples include Google, Yahoo and Ask.
Spider
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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. Pingback: SEO: Intro
  4. 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.

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