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. @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.

  2. 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).

  3. 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?

  4. 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!

  5. 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 🙂

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