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The Internet Businesses

Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization 124

isharq writes to tell us that SEOmoz has an interesting writeup regarding search engine optimization. The article has quite a bit of info and is geared so that even the inexperienced used can learn the basics of search engine optimization. From the article: "It is our goal to improve your ability to drive search traffic to your site and debunk major myths about SEO. We share this knowledge to help businesses, government, educational and non-profit organizations benefit from being listed in the major search engines."
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Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization

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  • fundamental (Score:5, Funny)

    by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <tedNO@SPAMfc.rit.edu> on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @05:53PM (#14205988) Homepage
    Step 1: Write better content.

    • Absolutely (Score:5, Informative)

      by conJunk ( 779958 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @05:59PM (#14206019)
      Step 1: Write better content.

      That's in there. I think it's page four [seomoz.org] of TFA. They hit all the key points:

      Valid HTML/CSS
      Good, Well written content

      This article seems to know what it's talking about, and doubles as a decent guide to good web design principle. Awesome.

      • <meta http-equiv="Keywords" name="Keywords" content="lol this is not a search engine optimization">
        • by Nik13 ( 837926 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:38PM (#14206220) Homepage
          Meta tags is still part of the very basic stuff that everyone already knows (hardly worth mentionning). In fact, too much people worry only about that. Worrying about meta tags before ensuring their content is good enough or that it can be indexed easily (especially if they use frames)! And when that proves to be insufficient, they hire some SEO-"guru", often the shady/not-so-ethical kind that makes pages with nothing but keywords (doorway pages) and such. Meta tags are so over-abused that search engines almost disregard them, they're just not THAT important anymore.

          Often overlooked are small things like page titles, having your keywords in the article/page itself and perhaps in the URL (rewriting can come in handy), regular content updates, clean/semantic/valid/accessible markup - and use CSS (content to markup ratio helps), good links (in/out), etc.

          SEO is easy for the most part. I've brought up the ranking of several sites rather easily - mostly by looking at the top results for the keywords we'd like to be found under and our main competitors... Find out what they do better/why they come ahead of you, and make up a strategy based on that (new content to include, and other basic stuff - not just blindly copying their meta tags).

          Great content is paramount. It will also make others (eventually some big sites) link to you, and it will help a great deal.
          • Granted, for a number of years meta keywords have been only vaguely relevant for gaining a good search engine ranking. They're only one thing amongst many that are necessary to do in order to gain the best ranking possible, and definately down the list in terms of the most effective. Anyone reading through the linked article, or already familiar with search engine optimisation methods, will have come to the conclusion that ultimately (besides the notorious google-bomb method) the best way to have your site
            • Becoming an authority in the subject is really the best method for gaining high placement. It's not that hard to get a #1 spot but you have to put some time and money into decent SEO and lots of content creation and community building. Create some solid content, drop the word in the right places that it's there, and set up the needed functionality to encourage users of that content to help build content themselves even if it's only in the form of discussion attached to each article you publish. Maybe sponso
      • Looks like it echos and expands my own little guide [kavlon.org] I threw out a few months ago. SEO stuff is pretty interesting and doing it right can really help searchers. It's a shame so many people try to rig the system incorrectly while those with real, useful, content usually ignore SEO altogether.
    • Re:fundamental (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Yjerkle ( 610052 )
      Step 1: Write better content.

      No kidding. My website, Gullible.Info [gullible.info], is the #1 google result for "gullible", and we didn't do any of this "search engine optimization" stuff. We just wrote amusing stuff, and people linked to us.
    • Re:fundamental (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BarryLoper ( 928015 )
      I think history has shown that "better content" has little to do with search engine ranking. You just have to know how to work the system better than your competitor.

      Having said that, I wish someone would invent a search engine that would push some of this "better content" to the top of search engine results.
      • > I think history has shown that "better content" has little to do with search engine ranking.

        It's not so much _better_ content per se as it is content that many webmasters want to link to.

        This is one reason why anything related to computer/technical topics is practically guaranteed to show up before even much more common alternate meanings for the same word. For instance, the word "word" is an *exceedingly* common English word, but the top result on Google is for a software product. (This phenomenon i
    • Re:fundamental (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpecBear ( 769433 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:46PM (#14206280)

      Absolutely correct.

      You don't have to optimize if you're relevant, and if you're not relevant then you're fighting a losing battle. Google employs thousands of people and spends assloads of money to make sure the search engine continues to give good results. Google wants to be the top choice for search, and to do that they need to make sure that when somebody searches for "widget," they get sites most relevant to "widget."

      If you've got the spiffiest widget site on the net, then you don't have to optimize for Google because Google is optimizing for you. And they're better at it than you are. It's their business to make sure people get to your site when they're looking for info on widgets.

      If your widget site sucks and you manage to optimize your page to get a higher search ranking, then people are going to be annoyed when they search for widgets and your crappy site comes up. Google will see this as a bug in the search engine, and eventually it'll be fixed. Now you're working against Google's dev team. Good luck with that.

      • I agree with you to some degree, but you're not entirely correct IMO.

        An example: I manage one particular corporate website where the content couldn't be any more relevant. Nothing spammy or light-weight about it really - no tricks. Prior to my "optimization", the site was a page or two back on google for several very important key-phrases. After optimization, the site rose to the first page. I was able to achieve this without cheating, but simply being a little smarter about how the page was coded...pay
        • Most SEOs are mostly evil with a bit of trite good stuff; this guy had mostly good stuff with a small dose of evil. The way search engines work is to predict what will be interesting to humans, and let robots collect and rank it. You can either raise the rank by
          • making the content more interesting to humans
          • making it easier for robots to find your content, or
          • lying to the robots so they'll tell the humans that your uninteresting page is interesting. This is how most SEOs promise to raise your ranking.
      • You are right and you are wrong... With most things, you are right, but at the same time, there are lots of things you can do which completely shoots you in the search engines, despite having an otherwise good site. Flash-only navigation, no sitemap or using dropdowns for navigation, for example, are massive no-nos.

        Other relatively good sites use images for text, because the designer decided that they want a font not everybody has installed. etc.

        In addition, there are many things you can do to 'help search
      • Can't I just click the search-opti-something-ize button thingy in Frontpage?
    • Step 1: Write better content.

      Yup. Elements of Style [amazon.com]. Read it.

    • I'm surprised that the parent article has been modded 'funny'. The article is absolutely right. My personal rule #1 is "Remember that you are writing for people, not machines."
    • Content is not king. Think about it. Google quickly began to dominate the already saturated search engine market (think excite, lycos, yahoo, altavista) because their algorithm determined relevancy based on popularity. Now the other search engines are doing the same, because it's statistically better results. It's not perfect, but it's more relevant than content based search engines.

      There are many geek blogs out there, but Slashdot is a better result for the search "news for nerds" not because it's p
    • My website has a PR6 in google since I put some content on it. The start content was 6 links, and some under construction text, total size about 1kB. My conclusion based on that is:
      Avoid lots of images & complex pieces of html/javascript which only do little.
      Have a high content to HTML code ratio apparently is good for search engines. Google & MSN visit my site with now about 5kB of content several times a day, and I get lots of search hits. It is fun though if people really read your content and ho
  • Land of blind (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by biocute ( 936687 )
    In the land of blind, the one eyed man is king.

    However if everybody has night vision goggle, wouldn't everything back to the usual again?
  • by 77Punker ( 673758 ) <spencr04.highpoint@edu> on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @05:58PM (#14206009)
    viagra computers internet world wide web xbox 360 playstation 3 ebay e-bay

    Your #1 search source!
    • It's a joke. Get it? Anyone? Search engine optimization is usually a nice way of saying "domain squatting".
    • Yeah, something like that. When I read the headline in my RSS reader, I thought "Cool! I've always wanted to write a search engine!" but then it turns out that it's just about making your site more popular.

      Here's a way to make your site more popular: Ambiguous article titles :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...but I couldn't find anything.

  • We share this knowledge to help businesses, government, educational and non-profit organizations benefit from being listed in the major search engines

    Yes, I'm sure their motives are just that pure. I bet they would be shocked - shocked! - to learn that some less-than-scrupulous people were using their techniques to cause money to change hands. *rolls eyes*

    • What do you think they mean when they say "...help businesses... benefit from being listed in the major search engines"? I don't think they're implying anything other than the profit motive.

      Too bad it wrecks the Internet for the rest of us though. I've found product research increasingly difficult lately. Searches for products lead straight to link farms such as eopinions.com. (I know they would claim legitimacy but 99% of the time their page says "be the first to leave a review..."

  • Does the guide contain anything else but "try to make your site's content the best there is of its kind"?
  • by QuakerOatmeal ( 442564 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:04PM (#14206050)
    These guys wrote a search ranking factors article [seomoz.org] a month or two ago that is also a worthy read.

  • Easy (Score:5, Informative)

    by rbinns ( 849119 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:07PM (#14206064)
    Content, Content, Content... And a little help for the search engines such as ALT tags and relevant TITLE tags. When setting up pages, I often look at the page in Lynx to see what the crawler should see. After all, it is a little hard for the search engine to describe an image without any tag data. Unless, of course, you are amazon and you have a turk at your disposal. Amazon's Mechanical Turk [slashdot.org]
  • by mcguyver ( 589810 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:10PM (#14206082) Homepage
    Another good resource is this old but still very applicable guide, 26 steps to 15k a Day [searchengineworld.com].
  • SEO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by boingyzain ( 739759 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:11PM (#14206086)
    If you're interested in Search Engine Optimization, the tool can be used like the Overture Keyword Selector Tool [overture.com]. Similar results are obtained with both, which is interesting all in itself. A guy built an interface [hooznet.com] similar to Overture to use with Google Suggest.

    Other than that I can't think of a real use... I usually know what I want to search for on Google. It could help optimize queries I guess (see the "number" of results before hitting submit, but not the quality...)

    Happy Holidays to all Slashdotters, by the way :)
  • Honestly, I don't need a website telling me to put out media articles to get traffic to my site. Duh. "Hey! If you want traffic people have to know your website address!". Thanks for the help. What the hell do you really want?
  • rule #1 (Score:5, Funny)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:24PM (#14206154) Homepage Journal
    rule #1 for search engine optimization:

    write an article and submit it to slashdot. once on slashdot, it will rank higher on google.
  • SEO is BSEO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rakerman ( 409507 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:24PM (#14206156) Homepage Journal
    SEO is bullshit.
    I rank #1, or in top 5 on Google for lots of things, and all I did was write about stuff that interested me.
    • my website is #1 on google for "nonsensical paragraphs of poorly written prose"

      Pretty damn good description of my site too :)
    • specialization. Want to be #1 in the industry? Find a niche. Then adapt your webpage content / headers / etc to that niche.

      Other than that, I still don't get what's the big deal with "SEO", like if it was some kind of keyword hacking crap.
    • Re:SEO is BSEO (Score:4, Insightful)

      by flood6 ( 852877 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:54PM (#14206318) Homepage Journal
      Anybody can rank #1 in Google for "purple flying widgets", but it doesn't matter because no one searches for that [overture.com]. Getting clients to rank well for things like "home stereo" or "linux webhost" is where the challenge is; hardly "bullshit".

      I didn't RTFA, but from the comments it sounds like I've read hundreds like it and it's preaching the "content is king" dogma. And that's pretty true. All you have to do is build a good site that people want to visit and you're halfway there. Unfortunately people just try to build a site with the "coolest" flash and spend time and money on the latest SE spam techniques.

      So I agree with rakerman in that building a site on a topic you enjoy with interesting content is half the battle. You keep up with it, update it, and people will naturally link to it (links being the other half).

      SEO actually seems to be getting easier in a sense. The complicated cloaking and doorway pages are much less effective on the major keyphrases than they used to be. You'll still see plenty of scrapper sites rank high in the major SEs, but the trend is against them.

      • Pretty much agreed. My site comes 7th on a search for "Debian", and top for "Debian Administrator", "Debian Administration" and other related terms.

        None of that was deliberate and none of it was an effort. I just write about Debian sysadmin topics and the inbound links push me to the top. If I could get paid for SEO I'd be laughing.

        Mind you I'm still bitter that I only come top on a search for "Steve" if you limit your search to 'Sites from the UK'. Although my full name links me to the top, against a

  • This article was nothing more than abstractions. How about some real meat, like exactly how to get your site ranked up there? I've been curious for a long time how to get sites to rank up in Google, Yahoo, etc., and while I admit I haven't done my homework, this article didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. When I saw the summary here, I really thought I was going to dive into some good material.
    • Create a popular, interesting site with great content and accessible HTML.

      If you create an unpopular, uninteresting site with mediocre content that no one wants to read, then no amount of gaming the system is going to help.

      As to "real meat", there is no secret magic formula or incantation that's instantly going to rank your personal blog site as #1.

    • Backlinks, backlinks, backlinks.

      http://www.naturallinkexchange.com/ [naturallinkexchange.com]
    • This article was nothing more than abstractions. How about some real meat, like exactly how to get your site ranked up there?

      Hence the word beginner's in the title...

  • Well.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:26PM (#14206164) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that the SEO spammers reset the game for the rest of the people over time by flooding out the methods that people can used to get ranked with their crap, meaning everyone has to keep changing to stay ahead, and obviously the way to do this is fresh, good quality, unique content. That's not to say that SEO spammers won't eventually see this and begin stealing/outsourcing content production in order to screw this up too
  • They would be better off reading the "Beginners guide to surviving slashdotting !"
  • 'How to Conduct Keyword Research' http://www.seomoz.org/articles/bg3.php [seomoz.org]
    "1. Brainstorming - Thinking of what your customers/potential visitors would be likely to type in to search engines in an attempt to find the information/services your site offers (including alternate spellings, wordings, synonyms, etc). "

    Hmm...thinking of something that people would mistype in a search engine...
    got it - bobos ttis bresats!
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:38PM (#14206226) Journal
    Just have your site be focused for the readers, so a good algorithm will then not punish your site for artifical rank pumping. Doh!

    penis breast enlargement sex erection viagra paris hilton valentines day babes online games poker britney boobs adult dating escorts free herbal herbs j-lo kazaa napster porn playboy millionare millions travel romance jackpot vacation dream xxx amateurs voyeurism natalie portman hot grits

  • Malware authors have been doing Search engine optimiztion for years, this guide isn't useful...
    If you want to get lots of Search engine hits...

    Free Auto, Free Doom 3, Free Online Poker, Texas Hold em, Free Online Dating, Free Mp3, Free Movies, Free Celebrities, Pr0n, Spyware, Free Scan, Free PS3, Free Xbox 360, Free Crack, Free Serial, Free Cereal, pr0n, Free debt reduction, Free Cash, Free Search Assistant, Free Slashdot, and pR0n
  • Well done on getting a mention in slashdot seomoz! Who would have thought an article on SEO would get this much traffic to your site, maybe you need to put a slashdot part in the article lol :) ken, lsblogs http://www.lsblogs.com/ [lsblogs.com]
  • by caffeinemessiah ( 918089 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @06:49PM (#14206294) Journal
    So many comments talk about content, but content similarity was abandoned as the chief measure in searching years ago, when people started filling their pages with invisible, offtopic keywords to show up higher. Most contemporary ranking schemes are based on hyperlink analysis, i.e. the number and type of pages that LINK to your page, and vice versa.

    If you want to figure out how to boost your ratings, why not get the advice from the horse's mouth?

    Brin and Page's original paper about PageRank (Google) : the original Google paper [stanford.edu]

    Another PageRank paper Inside PageRank [google.com]

    For those with a taste for Yahoo, search for Kleinberg's original 1998 paper on HITS. I seriously doubt that these authors have anything more to contribute than the two papers I listed, unless of course they worked for Google/Yahoo and are violating some SERIOUS NDAs.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I bet nothing serious happened since the 1990's - right?

      Believe it or not, there are other ways at determining algorithms than having to read up on their original papers (or even current patents). Experiments, perhaps?

      Since most of the search engines like to keep everything under their covers, the only way for a professional webmaster or "website optimizer for search engines" can keep up with changes is by running 10's to 1000's of test sites on the side. Running 1000 sites is not as expensive as you would
    • If you want to figure out how to boost your ratings, why not get the advice from the horse's mouth?

      Brin and Page's original paper about PageRank (Google) : the original Google paper

      Another PageRank paper Inside PageRank

      The problem is that PageRank isn't the end-all-and-be-all of Google. Allow me to quote from this SIAM News article [siam.org]

      While Google relies heavily on PageRank for ranking its search results, it uses at least a hundred other metrics as well, making use of such things as the content of "anc

    • People have been posting about content for one simple reason. Content generates links. Sure, you could build link farms with hundreds of sites, and fool Google into thinking you're popular, but if you have good content, people will link to your site without you having to do anything else.
  • Thanks, Slashdot (Score:4, Informative)

    by randfish ( 937044 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @07:12PM (#14206404) Homepage
    I appreciate the link gang. It's quite an honor. Sorry about the site's slowness. We've fixed that and everyone should be able to browse it, no problem now. For those who are wondering, the guide contains a lot of information about how link popularity and the many, many metrics associated with it function. SEs like Google, Yahoo! and MSN have moved beyond pure content analysis and beyond simple link algorithms like HITS and PageRank - for an understanding of these more in-depth topics, I'd recommend looking elsewhere, though. This guide is really for newcomers to the subject.
    • Sorry about the site's slowness. We've fixed that and everyone should be able to browse it, no problem now.


      You... you make it sound so easy...
      Any upcoming guide for that? :-)
  • by __aaitqo8496 ( 231556 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @07:19PM (#14206436) Journal
    Anyone else find it ironic that they used an unordered list and then stuck letters on each list element instead of using a ordered list?

    Okay, I'm just an HTML dork.
  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2005 @07:44PM (#14206574)
    ...is to run websites and/or give lectures on how to make money with SEO. It's sorta like no-money-down real estate infomercials...
  • A search for search engine optimization [google.com] does not even list them on their first page. Why take advice from him, when you can find who is first in their own business with a quick google search?
  • is to find a high ranking site, such as slashdot, and post links to the website you're trying to boost the pagerank of. Not that I would ever do that, of course. :-)

    If you're a unix user and can't use google's toolbar to check pagerank, you can check the pagerank of a url here: http://www.only999.com/google_page_rank.php [only999.com]
  • I'm curious what anyone out there who would consider themselves to be pretty expert at optimising for search engines thinks of this article. Are there some things that have been left out? Have some things been overplayed? It's alright if you don't want to actually disclose any secrets you know that were not mentioned, but if you could just signal how complete the article is.
  • by Mungkie ( 632052 )
    Posting your hard earned methods of seo to slashdot is a sure fire way to have search engines change their algorithms to remove any vulnerabilitys to bad search results. Anyone who would do that would be a fool as they would stop themselves from earning from their scarce knowledge, and would be in effect working for the search engines for free. The only circumstances where this may be done is when new unknown methods become available and ones competitors can be eliminated by publishing the old methods that
  • good above board SEO and bad SEO which may get your site banned from search engines if caught.

    good SEO is about running a good site that a bot can navigate and index without knowlage of advanced technologies, not moving shit arround all the time and providing good enough content that people wan't to link to you. A while back i'd have included honest meta tags here too but they are pretty much worthless now afaict. Basically all the stuff you should be doing anyway to make a good quality accessible site.

  • Another quality piece of work Rand. Way to go!

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton