FAQ - Search Engine Optimization

Frequently Ask Questions for SEO

What is a Search Engine?A search engine is an online database of websites that allows Internet users to search for information contained on websites contained in the database by "Keywords".
Keywords are words that Internet searches are likely to use when looking for information on a specific topic. For example, the words "grad schools" would likely be used when looking for information on continuing post-secondary education.
Each search engine has slightly different behaviors and characteristics.

What is a Directory?A directory is a search tool much like a search engine but with a few major differences. Directories tend to employ human editors to review and rank websites submitted to their database. Yahoo! is the most well known example of a directory. Most directories catalog websites based on a variety of topic categories such as Business and Economics, or Arts and Culture. Most directories demand payment before assigning a website review to one of their editors.
What is PPC or Pay Per Click?
Several Search tools are now offering Pay per Click rankings. Companies such as GoTo and iWon allow webmasters the chance to purchase placement in an auction system. StepForth has several plans for managing bidding accounts and finding the least expensive keywords to bid on.
Is there a simple solution to top placement?
There is no simple solution to attaining high search engine rankings. Search engine optimization is time consuming work and requires a healthy knowledge of how the Internet functions and how search engines operate.
Are not all search engines the same?
Each search tool has its own unique characteristics. As businesses, each search tool has found ways to make its service slightly different from other search tools.
Will my website stay at the #1 position once my website is placed there by StepForth?
Search Engine rankings fluctuate frequently, however, if your site is properly maintained by search engine specialists month to month then it is likely that the movement will be confined to within the top10 positions.
My website did not get accepted last time I submitted to the search engines... why?
Search Engine listings are not guaranteed to everyone who posts a website to the Internet. Search engines are for-profit businesses and have the right to refuse to list any site for virtually any reason. At StepForth we specialize in getting sites listed on search engines. We ensure all bases are covered and all necessary elements are present before submitting the finalized site to the search engines or directories.
How long does it take to see results?
It can take between 2 - 12 weeks to see results, depending on each search engine. StepForth starts tracking your website's performance 14 days after submission. We will forward all results as they come in over time. Ask about our reporting services.
How does the Search Engine find websites?There are two ways a search engine can find a website to add to its database. The first and most direct method is to accept submissions from website designers and optimizers. Most search engines have a "submit your URL" section inviting submissions from Internet users.

The second, and least obvious method of finding websites is to send a "spider" to follow each and every link on, off, and through a website. New URLs encountered by the spider will be added to the database. In this way, some search engines will grow very rapidly.
What is a "Spider"?A "spider" is an electronic robot that travels the web examining websites in order to add them to a search engine database and rank them according to the specific ranking criteria for that search engine. Most search engines use spiders to quickly and efficiently canvass the web for information.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization is the process of making websites search engine friendly. The process often involves minor modifications to, or additions of, several standard elements of a website.
What do you mean by Search Engine Friendly?
We use this term to describe a website that has specific elements added or modified to attract and please search engine spiders or live directory editors.
Why might I need to have extra elements added to my website?
A search engine spider is an automated program that electronically probes every URL submitted to its database. As the spider is a computer program, it is designed to look for and rank very specific items on each page it probes. If those elements are present, the spider computes a higher ranking than it would if those elements were not present.
If these elements are so important, why didn't they get added when my site was originally designed?
Most website designers haven't learned the importance of search engine friendly design. In almost every case we've encountered, the site designer is a highly skilled and creative person whose job is to put your ideas on the web. More often than not, the designers have not received any training in search engine optimization and don't think about it while pursuing a cool looking design. Search engines are also constantly changing their ranking criteria. They do this to prevent gross manipulation of their search tools. Often, website designers are not fully up to date with changes at search engines. For an example, ask your website designers about Theme Engines. At StepForth, we spend a good portion of our time studying how search engines work and how any sudden changes might effect our clients.
Why don't I just do the work myself and save money?
You can do the work yourself. You will need to continuously update your knowledge of how the various search engines work and any changes made in the way they work. This shouldn't take you too much time. Once you get the hang of it, search engine optimization can be as simple as re-shoeing the brake pads on your car or replacing the motherboard and system bios in your computer.
You should know that if you make a mistake in optimization and submission, it can take months to find the mistake and fix it, resubmit the site and obtain the search engine ranking you desired. Our 10+ years of experience with search engine optimization helps us avoid most mistakes.
What is an Affiliate Program?
A mutually beneficial relationship between a website and a company. The company seeks to either generate more web traffic, sell more products, or seek out potential customers through leads. The website seeks to make a profit by selling ad revenue on the site. Affiliate programs come in many shapes and forms.

What is an Affiliate Network?
This is by far the quickest and easiest way to begin selling advertising on your website. A secondary company called an affiliate network acts as a liaison between the advertiser and your website. The affiliate network sells ad space on your site and then takes a cut of the profit generated from this advertising. This can be an especially good method for small sites or people just starting in the advertising market, because it is extremely difficult to find individual advertisers on your own. In addition, the hardware and software needed to run and track an advertising campaign is all taken care of by the affiliate network.

What is CPS (Cost Per Sale)?
The cost an advertiser pays per sale. This is a very common method of selling advertising. You receive a credit for a sale when a web surfer clicks on one of the ads on your site and ends up buying something from your advertiser's site. A sale does not always occur directly after the click as most advertisers will have a certain time during which both the sale and click through must occur in order to receive credit. This time period is often called the 'cookie duration'.

What is CPL (Cost Per Lead)?
The cost an advertiser pays per lead. This is a very common method of selling advertising. A lead can be anything from an email address for a newsletter to a complete survey that needs to be completely filled out and verified in order to get credit. CPL prices can range greatly depending on the program.

What is CPA (Cost Per Action)?
This term refers to pay per lead and pay per sale affiliate programs.

What is CPC (Cost Per Click)?
The cost an advertiser pays per click.
Does meta tags make your site rank better?
This is NOT true. The fact is that according to the W3C HTML coding standards it is good coding practice to make use of Meta tags. Meta tags are also used by some directories and Yahoo! also admited at looking at meta tags 2 years ago. It is also true that search engines like Google DO NOT care much for meta tags. Meta tags therefore does very little if any for your rankings. It is also good practice not to stuff a bunch of keywords in your meta tags but that the meta tags should be relevant to the theme and keywords targeted on the specific page it is located on.

Is page titles important?
Yes, a good page title assist the search engine in determining the targeted theme of the page. Each page must have it’s own unique title that are representative of the page content. Also just target a single keyword phrase per page title.

Should I target many keywords on a single page?
No, the best strategy is to target a single keyword phrase for every individual page. This can cause a single page to rank for several keywords relevant to the incoming backlinks and the keywords targeted by the page.

What is a reciprocal link?
Reciprocal linking is when you link to a site and they link to your site in return.

What is a triangular link?
This is a link strategy whereby you link to a site form your one domain and they link back to another of your domains.

What is Natural rank

This the rankings that you obtain without paying for position. In Google the paid rankings normally is located on the right hand side of their search results and the natural rankings are the results listed on the entire left hand side of the search results.
What is hidden text?
This is text that is visible to a search engine spider as it views the HTML source code but it is not visually visible to a human visitor. Webmasters usually make use of style sheets and the class attribute to fool search engines. This will definitely end up with a removal and penalty by a search engine when detected.

What is a Doorway page?
These are normally single pages created with the sole purpose to target specific keywords. It usually do not reflect the rest of the site. A splash page can be mistaken as a doorway page and should be avoided as search engines can penalize a domain for the use of doorway pages.

My web design company submitted my site to 1000’s of search engines, do I still need to do SEO?
Submission software is to a large degree a selling mechanism that means nothing to the website. Only a handful of search engines being submitted to are actually useful and those will focus on other factors to determine your site’s rankings. It is a well known fact that Google uses more than 200 factors to rank a website. The only thing that submission software does is letting search engines know that your site is out there. Obtaining backlinks from sites already being indexed however has the same result.
What is SEO?
It is the process that enable search engines to access and understand the content of a site with the end result of improved positioning on the SERPS of relevant search engines in order to obtain relevant targeted referrals with improved conversion ratios, from search engines.

What is Cloaking?
In short cloaking means to determine who visits the website and then presenting the applicable visitor with the site content relevant to their needs. In other words serving Google bot with a different page than for example the Yahoo! spider is cloaking. This will definitely result in a banning of the relevant site in a search engine, if discovered. Enabling actual human visitors to view only information relevant to their needs is not considdered cloaking. Cloaking's main objective is fooling search engines.

What is an Algo?
The abbreviation for algorithm. This is a mathematical formula that determines the ranking of pages in the relevant search engines search results.