How Search Engines Work: The Road to EASY SEO Tips

Hello and welcome to Small Business EASY Branding Tips.  Brought to you by SSS for Success (EASY Brand Marketing Specialists), working to help Small Businesses Survive through EASY Sales

Originally, I intended for this week’s topic to be “EASY Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) Tips: Making Your Website Search Engine Friendly”, then I realized that in explaining how you can optimize your website for search engines, that a discussion on search engines themselves and how they work was warranted.  So, to that end, next week’s topic will be “EASY SEO Tips”, and this week’s topic will talk about the basics of search engines, and how they work.

To put this in the “grand scheme of things” for how this fits in with your business, as well as the EASY Brand Marketing Program, Search Engine Optimization is a key component to a successful web strategy that continually generates traffic to your site, and not just ANY traffic, but the right traffic that comes to your site, ready to take the action you need them to (which is really more important than how many people are actually visiting your site). 

So, whether you have a website, or are considering constructing a new one, you’ll want to keep search engines in mind, unless you already have some magic formula for driving direct traffic to your site.

When I talk next week about “EASY Search Engine Optimization Tips” and how you can make your website more search engine friendly, I’ll be giving tips on some of the things you should keep in mind when designing or redesigning your website, in order to obtain optimal placement on the organic search engine results page (also called SERPs).

To give you a frame of reference for what organic search results are, see the image below:

Why is this important to you?  Because the organic results are where 70% of most web traffic driven from search engines come from.  

If you know you’re selling a product, and you know the behavior of your shopping audience, then you can surely use PPC to drum up more business, but the bulk of our focus at SSS for Success (EASY Brand Marketing Specialists), is really on Search Engine Optimization as an integral part of web design, thus insuring that you not only have a website, but a website that people can find without it costing you extra money on a continual basis. 

In order to get organic search results, and end up on one of the first 3 pages of those results (with the first page being the “prime location”), you need to optimize your website for search engines, so that your site’s content gets returned for relevant keywords.  And how you end up on those results page, is a process known as Search Engine Optimization, and in order to do this, you first have to know how search engines work and how they operate. 

A search engine uses special software (often called a “spider” or “robot”) to crawl the web, and automatically follow links and index web pages based on their readable content that’s embedded within the website’s code, then compiles that data into the search engine’s database.  The way the engine works, is when you search for a term, say for instance “wedding cakes”, the search engine checks its database for all the websites it’s crawled for the terms “wedding” and “cakes”.

In terms of how a search engine like Google knows how to rank one site over another based on the relevancy of its content, THAT is the “Holy Grail question” for many Search Engine Optimizers, as people have tried for years to figure out the algorithm that’s used, but no one ever quite gets it, and the good thing is, you don’t really need to know the specifics of that, if you simply build a site that’s automatically friendly to search engine robots. 

One of the best pieces of advice I give for search engine optimization when constructing new websites is to design a website first for a blind person, then construct the visual components.  Some people think this is crazy, but if your business plan calls for search engine-driven web traffic, then you need to design your websites for search engines, and in order to do that, you need text.  Because, generally speaking, search engines read text!  They can’t “see” pictures or colors or graphics, in fact, even as search engines are changing the way they’re yielding results, they’ll still using the tried and true mechanisms of acquiring names for images from the ALT image tag.

How a website ranks on the search engine results page is a direct result of a variety of Website Relevancy Factors.  And while there are numerous factors that effect a website’s relevancy within search engine results, for the sake of brevity, I’ve highlighted 10 positive and negative factors that can effect your site’s ability to be ranked higher on search engines.

You can listen to this week’s podcast for more details on each factor, but here are both lists:

Ten Positive Website Relevancy Factors: 
  1. Matching keywords within the Title Tag. 
  2. Matching keywords within the META Description Tag. 
  3. Matching keywords within the page filenames. 
  4. Matching keywords within the URL. 
  5. Matching keywords within the image filenames. 
  6. Matching keywords within the text links. 
  7. Matching keywords within the page headings and sub-headings. 
  8. The Age of the site. 
  9. Domain Ownership History.
  10. The number of internal/external links to the page.
Ten Negative Website Relevancy Factors:


  1. Over-optimizing the site (using too many keywords, overstuffed with content). 
  2. Very long URLs, especially those with many hyphens. 
  3. Using Flash. 
  4. Using Javascript. 
  5. Using stop symbols within your URL, like #, $, %. 
  6. Broken links. 
  7. Content buried more than 3 directories deep (i.e. 
  8. Excessive use of graphics without text. 
  9. Links to sites that are not relevant to your content, nor the linking content. 
  10. Using techniques considered to be “spam” by search engines (e.g. invisible text (where you have words on the site, but change the color to the same as your background, so that visually your visitors can’t see it, but presumably search engines will, because its within the site’s code), or hidden links (which are very tiny images that are virtually invisible to the human eye, but contain linking code that search engines can read)).
The factors listed here are just a few among several, and there are TONS of resources on the web where you can learn more about this.  A great resource on this topic would be: Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies by Bruce Clay and Susan Esparza.  It’s a really great 10-in-1 book that gets into just about everything you need to know, and it gets into the finer points of search engine marketing, and it also includes a $25 gift card for trying out Google AdWords. 

Be sure to join us again next week, where I’ll be talking about “EASY Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) Tips: 10 Tips for Making Your Website Search Engine Friendly”.

Reminder: Within the next few weeks, I’m going to have a podcast episode devoted entirely to questions and answers from you, my listening audience, so please submit your Small Business Branding Questions for that upcoming episode.  You can visit our website and go to the Contact Us page to submit your question, or reach out to us via email at “podcasts[at]”, or finding us on Twitter (@sss4success), or leaving a comment below.  Don’t forget to stop by our Facebook Fan Page and let us know you LIKE what we’re doing.

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Finally, if by chance, you would like to learn more about how EASY Sales can help your bottom line, then give us a call at 615-336-4325.

Have a great day!
Kindra Cotton

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