• AUTHOR Adrian Camilleri
  • DATEDec 30,2020
  • CATEGORYUncategorized

Imagine having a great website offering a fantastic product or service which you have worked very hard to build. You put your web site on the web and wait…… for traffic to come your way. But this does not happen. Your website does not attract the attention you were hoping for. Why?

The answer lies with search engines and how they go through the infinite amount of web pages published on the web to build their databases in order to return queries to customers.

So …how does a search engine work? and how can we be successful at seo?

Firstly, it is worth mentioning that the vast majority of internet traffic is the direct result of searches i.e. people placing a query in a search engine such as Google (which is by far the most popular) and expecting results in return. How does Google know what results to return? How does it search the entire web and return relevant results within seconds? Moreover how does Google judge what is most relevant to you?

Although the complex algorithms which search engines employ will vary from one engine to another and are kept secret, it is known that various factors affect the search engines’ decisions.  Knowing what these factors are, will help you optimize your website in order to attract the search engines’ attention and ensure you have a chance to be listed when customers search for products and services which you offer.

Search engines crawl the web by going from link to link in order to build complex databases of content and links. Websites are decoded and relevant parts of them stored for quick retrieval later when customers perform a search. This allows search engines to provide customers with websites which are relevant to the query they have made.

However with the amount of information on the web, the search engine will have a huge number of results to display. It must therefore perform some sort of classification based on relevance and popularity in order to display what it believes are the most important results for the customer.

This brings us to another question – how does a search engine decide what is relevant? What are the ranking factors used? The three points below attempt to shed some insight into how you can optimize you website to improve your ranking.

Proper Web Design and Optimization

Your website needs to be built in such a way as to offer the best user experience to humans. However it must also be readable by the search engines’ automated crawlers and spiders. If they cannot read your content, then they can never display your website in return for a query. Consider as an example an image of a house. Whilst a human can easily look at it and understand immediately what type of house it is (e.g. terraced house with garden and pool),  a search engine will not be able to determine the same level of info unless the information is clearly included in the website code.

It is therefore very important that your website is built using indexable content such as HTML text, and by employing appropriate code to allow search engines to understand more complex display styles such as images and plugins.

The way you build your URL structure, title tags and meta description tag will also help search engines. Having the keywords you want to rank for in your title tags and text will increase your chances of ranking.

Having unique content on your web site is of utmost importance. If you have multiple URLs which display the exact same content, then essentially these URLs are competing against each other. There are techniques you need to employ to tell the search engine which is the master content.


One of the most important decisions you need to make is what keywords you want to rank for. For which queries do you want the search engines to display your website with the highest rank possible?

The more generic your target keywords are, the more competition you will face. Back to our house example. If you’re in the business of selling a particular type of house e.g. converted townhouses in village core, then don’t target the keyword ‘house’. Apart from facing stiff competition for this generic keyword, it might also attract visitors which are looking for apartments or terraced houses by the sea. Even if these customers reach your website, they will not stay long because you are not offering what they are after.

Choosing the correct keywords

The right keywords to target is a matter of good research and understanding of your customer’s requirements. It is important to target keywords which will result in most conversions. Very often it is best to target the long tail keywords which are more specific such as ‘converted townhouse in Naxxar’. This will also narrow down your potential audience to those people who are further down the buying cycle and hence more likely to buy rather than targeting people who are just browsing.

Often keyword research is also a trial and error method, where you need to constantly fine tune as you go along and as market needs change. These keywords need to appear in your text and all relevant tags such that they can be read by search engines.

The keywords must feature in your content which must be unique, informative and offers value to your customers. It is important to keep your content fresh and updated and also to post new content regularly.

Link Building

The third and equally important pillar of SEO is link building. We mentioned earlier that search engines will classify your site based on their perception of how relevant it is. But how do they know?

Apart from having a proper design which is readable to search engines and lets them know what type of information or products you are offering through the use of proper keywords, search engines also rank your site based on how relevant your site is to others. One way to determine this is to monitor how others are talking about you and quoting your site.

Not all links are equal

Therefore developing a strong brand and great content is key – content needs to be informational and high quality such that people are eager to talk about it and share it within their circles. The more links back to your website, the higher the perception of trustworthiness and relevance. Links from trustworthy sites have bigger value in the eyes of the search engines.

Sharing of your content on social networks is also important for increasing your website ranking.

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