Web Marketing: Why Search Engines Exist - dummies

By John Arnold, Michael Becker, Marty Dickinson, Ian Lurie, Elizabeth Marsten

If you understand why search engines exist, you can get them to work for you in your web marketing business. So, here’s a quick lesson in why search engines exist and how you can use them to make money.

Search engines deliver relevance. Relevance means that visitors click on search results and are happy with what the search engine found for them. When that happens, visitors come back, traffic to the search engine rises, and the search engine company’s stock goes up.

For example, if you go to Google and type pastrami, you expect to find sites about pastrami. If you find a website about bread, you might not use Google again. Google wants to deliver the most useful websites relating to pastrami. Same for every other search engine. If you want to rank high, make it easy for search engines to figure out when and where your site should appear.

Don’t be fooled by hucksters who offer to help you move up in the rankings. They tell you they can trick the search engines into giving you a high ranking, even if you don’t deserve it.

These tricks might include adding thousands of links on hundreds of websites, duplicating pages on your site, buying or stealing content from other sites and using it on yours, or connecting you to link networks, where hundreds of sites exchange links. Or, when asked how they will improve your rankings, the con artist might just say, “It’s a secret.”

Using tricks like these may get you some initial success, but they cost money, and you risk getting penalized by the search engines. Penalties cause you to disappear from the rankings or move down to four or five pages of the listings without warning. That can get expensive.

Search engines don’t like to be fooled. If you’re selling salami and engage in some trickery to gain a high ranking for pastrami, the search engine’s programming team will remove you from the rankings.

Search engines drive the Internet. If you’re going to depend on web marketing to help your business, you’re probably going to depend on such existing search engines as Google and Bing to deliver a huge chunk of your customers and clients. A high placement in the search engine ranking pages (SERPs, if you want to feel all geeky) can drive tremendous growth.

You can leave those rankings to chance and hope for the best. Or you can use Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the practice of providing the best possible target for search engines.

Here are some search engine terms to remember:

  • Crawl refers to what a search engine does when it reads and indexes a website.
  • Organic or natural search results are unpaid listings on a search result page.
  • Search engine ranking pages (SERPs) are the result pages you see when you complete a search on a major search engine.
  • Spiders or robots (bots) are software that the search engine uses to crawl your site.
  • Black hat SEO uses tactics specifically designed to improve search rankings and fool the search engines into providing a higher ranking than a website should actually receive according to a search engine’s algorithms.
  • White hat SEO uses tactics to make a website as acceptable as possible to both visitors and search engines, without attempting to manipulate the search engines.