Something to remember with Search Engine Optimization is the importance of your website being easily understood by both users and search engine robots. Even though search engines have become increasingly sophisticated, they are still not able to read a website the same way a human does. SEO helps these engines figure out what each page is about and helps them have a better understanding of how it may be useful to users.
Search Engines function on the same principles; bots crawl the web, follow links and index content. Let’s take a look at the limitations of search engines.
All major search engines function on the same principles; bots crawl the web, follow links and index content in massive databases. Even though what these engines have accomplished is nothing short of amazing, there are still limitations to what they can do. There are many technical limitations which can cause major problems in both inclusion and rankings, but for todays insert we will only be taking a look at the most common three.
First up, we have spidering and indexing problems
- Search engines can not complete online forms (for example a login) easily, and as a result content contained behind them may remain hidden.
- Any errors in a website’s crawling directories (robots.txt) may lead to the search engine being completely blocked.
- Websites that use a CMS (Content Management System) quite often create multiple versions of the same page, this causes a major problem for search engines as they look for completely original content.
- Even though search engines are getting better at reading non-HTML text, content which is in rich media format is still rather difficult for engines to analyze. These include images, photos, video, audio, flash files and plug-in content.
Next is the content to query matching.
- Engines match keywords exactly, so if text is not written in terms which people search for, the engine cannot match it. Example, writing about “food cooling units” when people search for “refrigerators”.
- International subtleties, for example color vs colour. If you are not sure which to use, research what people are searching for and use exact matches in your content.
- Be careful not to send mixed contextual signals, An example being; if you had a title of a blog as “Mexico’s Best Coffee”, but your post has to do with a resort in Canada which happens to serve great coffee. These types of situations send mixed signals to search engines.
And Lastly the “Tree falls in the forest” concept.
SEO is not only about making sure all the technical aspects of search-engine web development are correct. Its about marketing too! This might just be the most important concept to grasp about how a search engine functions. You can build a perfect website, but the content on it might remain invisible to engines unless you promote it. This is all because of how a search engine relies on the metrics of relevance and importance to display results.
The concept behind the “Tree falls in the forest” is that if no one is around to hear it fall – then it might not even have existed. This translates perfectly to search engines and web content. In other words, if no one links to your page, the search engine may choose to ignore it.
Search engines themselves cannot gauge quality and have no way to discover great pieces of content on the web. Only humans have the power to discover, react, comment and link to. Therefore content cannot simply be created, it must be shared and talked about. Search engines do a great job of promoting high quality content on websites that have already become popular, but they themselves cannot generate this popularity.
Now that you have a greater understanding of the issues which search engines face, you can start to think of ways to help search engines find and understand your website. As this is after all why we implement SEO.