“Understanding search engine algorithms is very important as this will allow you to construct your site in a way that maximizes results”
Relative importance of SEO factors
Search engines provide a very useful tool to make sense of the enormity of the web. It allows you to make a query by asking it to look for certain keywords. The response comes within a very short time and gives a list of potential pages all of which have high relevance to the keyword asked and ranked in order of importance. Search engines do this by sending out robots to the web called “crawlers”.
These collect information about what they find in the form of new pages. These pages are broken down and stored on huge servers. The fragments are then indexed rather like a book so that they can be retrieved easily. The search engine uses complex algorithms to arrive at the order of importance. There is also something of a mystery about how this is done. Companies have made their living on trying to figure out how the algorithms work and then helping companies to achieve a high ranking. Of course, high ranking leads to a higher volume and profit opportunity for the company. This process is called search engine optimization. The search engines update their algorithms frequently. Google does about 500 changes per year. It is therefore important to keep up to date and also to have a strategy that is as varied and wide as possible to allow for variations in the search algorithm.
The above two charts show how the importance of the different elements that make up SEO has changed over time. You can see that these changes are not trivial and so need to be managed. Just like the fact that your competitors are also undertaking activities to improve their results and as a consequence will push you down the ranking. Updating your site is therefore essential in maintaining or even improving your ranking.
Market share search engines
There are many search engines available from Google to Yahoo and Bing and Baidu in China, Yandex in Russia and in fact many others. It is, of course, important to look at the market shares of these companies in each country to decide how you should optimize your site as the search algorithms are slightly different for each actor. In Europe Google is by far dominant having some 90% of all search so that practically you optimize your site only for Google. In the US, however, also Yahoo and Bing are significant players in the market so that you also need to take account of them when optimizing your site. China and Russia each have their own unique situation with Baidu and Yandex being the search engines to optimize on in those countries.
Search engines like to have an easy life. This is because it costs them money if they are confronted with a site that does not conform with their expectations. The crawlers that retrieve the data from the site need to spend longer analyzing exactly what the site is about and because of that, it costs the search engines money. So make it simple for them by conforming to their rules. include sitemap.xml and robots.txt files on your site so that the search engines know how your site is structured and what pages they are allowed to see.