Certificate IV in Graphic Design
AND SEARCH ENGINE
O P T I M I SAT I O N
R E P O RT P R E PA R E D B Y:
B r i s b a n e N o r t h In s t i t u t e o f TA FE
Ithaca Campus Fulcher Rd
Red Hill QLD 4059
Table of Contents
1. Search Engines.......................................................................................... 3
1.2. Pay Per Clicks
2. Link Referrals............................................................................................ 6
3. Website SEO.............................................................................................. 9
3.1. Meta Tags and Keywords
3.3. Alternate Text
3.4. Different Search Engines
3.5. Help with Optimisation
4. Getting People Back................................................................................. 16
5. Offline Marketing...................................................................................... 17
6. References................................................................................................ 19
1. Search Engines
Search Engines are web-based software programs that present links to various websites
from their own databases when the user enters keywords or phrases. They are extremely
important for web site promotion as they are the primary method of finding information
about a company and its products. There is little chance of a potential customer finding you
unless they already know of your company or brand unless you are registered with a search
engine. It’s stated that over 80% of web users use a search engine to find information.
Google conducts approximately 34,000 searches per second, Yahoo: 3,200 searches per
second, and Bing: 927 searches per second. Google is the world’s largest search engine,
occupying around 85% of the global search engine market share, and around 95% of the
Australian search engine market share, which is why I will be using it as an example
throughout this report.
Search engines create their databases in two different ways.
Search Engines such as Google and Bing are known as ‘Crawler-based’ search engines and
they gather information by using an automated program commonly known as a ‘Spider’ or
‘Crawler’ which continuously filters pages on the Web and stores information from their
HTML such as page titles, headings and meta tags in order to index them in their database
and will present a list of link results to refer searchers to most relevant websites when
according keywords are entered in a search field. Examples of crawler-based search engines
are Google, Ask Jeeves, and Yahoo.
Google's spiders are crawling the Web constantly and making updates to their index, but the
commonly accepted idea is that a major crawl and re-indexing occurs roughly every month.
Websites are not all crawled equally, either, and the frequency each is crawled depends on
factors such as PageRank and inbound links which is all read by software, and search
engines do not accept payment to crawl websites with more frequency.
Other types of search engines are known as ‘Human-powered’ directories, (better known as
Web directories), where listings are determined by humans editors. Examples of this type of
directory are the Yahoo Directory and Open Directory.
A short description of an entire site may be submitted to the directory by the client, or
editors write one for sites they review. A search looks for matches only in the descriptions
A directory uses human editors who decide what category the site belongs to; they place
websites within specific categories in the ‘directories’ database. Another type of web
directory is the smaller ‘Topical’ search directory, such as http://www.brittannica.com,
www.yellow.com and http://www.artnet.com which a searcher may choose to use if they
are interested in a specific topic.
Meta search engines take the results from all the other search engines results, and combine
them into one large listing. Examples of Meta search engines include Metacrawler and
It is also increasingly common for both types of results to be presented in unison. Search
engines which present these mixed results are known as ‘Hybrid Search Engines’. Google
again is a good example of this type of search engine, as it will often present sponsored
links along with organic (crawled) results, video and image results for the searched topic.
1.2. Pay Per Clicks
Pay Per Click advertising is a system by which the advertiser pays the hosting company
a price when the ad is clicked. These are the ads which appear in the search results with
‘sponsored link’ or ‘sponsored ad’ or ‘AdWords’ (Google’s answer to PPC). The CPC (or cost
per click) is usually a fixed amount, which is agreed by the advertiser and the host, and can
be related to the value of content on the website, and a lower rate can be secured by
committing to a long term contract.
There is also a bid-based cost model, where the advertiser participates in an automated
auction conducted by the host for a maximum cost per click amount for an ad position
based on keywords when a search is conducted. The winners’ results are displayed in the
According to Ben Normans’ “Get to #1 on Google” a recent study Google found that
searchers were 72% more likely to click on a natural listing rather than a pay-per-click ad.
This shows that even though you can pay to get your website seen at the top of Google it is
not as effective as having it appear there naturally. It also states that searchers look for
relevance in the ads they click on, in the same way that Google looks for relevance in the
websites it shows in its natural listings. This is why natural search offers a much greater
conversion rate: people know that the natural listings will tend to be more relevant to their
search as they cannot be bought; only earned.
Page rank is something that is hard to explain in direct terms. To begin with PageRank
was created by Google and uses complicated mathematical algorithms to determine a web
pages value within the World Wide Web’s network of links. Page rank is a rank out of ten
that loosely indicates the value that Google attributes to a web page. It is useful in
informing you of the relative importance of a page compared with other pages when it
comes to link building, because it is meant to represent the likelihood of your website being
found purely by following links from other pages or by ‘surfing’.
Page ranking also determines the value of links. Ranking can be determined by exterior links
being displayed on you site, incoming links to your site from pages with similar subject
matter, and the ranking of those sites. More popular sites have a higher page rank and
therefore a better listing position. Google provides ‘PageRank’ which is tool you can use to
view your websites page rank to monitor and improve it.
With web directories, the human editors comprehensively check the website and rank it,
based on the quality of the information they find and its usability.
2. Link Referrals
Link building should be part of any search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. As
stated by Thies and Davies (2007, pp. 169), “the major search engines are unlikely to even
crawl your site with any depth or regularity if it doesn’t have links leading to it.” According
to Smith and Chaffey (2002, pp. 207), “the more links there are pointing at your site from
relevant sites, the greater the volume of quality traffic. The links will be in two main forms:
text hyperlinks and graphics hyperlinks similar to banner adverts.” Smith and Chaffey
(2002, pp. 207) also state, “linking can be more effective if it is direct to content relevant to
What is a link?
Thies and Davies (2007, pp. 169) suggest, “A link to a website is considered a vote for
that site by another.” However, this mentality has now changed to “a page is a vote.”
Thies and Davies (2007, pp. 169) state, “It’s important not to exchange links with other
sites that have more than 50 or so links on their pages.”
Thies and Davies (2007, pp. 169) say, “The value of a given link is progressively reduced by
each additional links on the same page.”
Below are the key areas that the search engines calculate link value:
Anchor text – www.editize.com is less effective than a link that reads Editized WYSIWG
rich text editor.
Link placement – It is assumed by the search engines that the higher the link is on the
page the higher priority the webmaster for that page placed on that link. Therefore
links in footers are considered to have less weight. The important note is that the
placement of the link in the code is the most important which of course is closely linked
to the link’s placement on the page.
Links in content – Links that are placed within the content of the page are considered
more attractive to the search engines than links that exist outside the content such as
lists etc. This is because the author felt it was worth referring too.
Link age – The timing of the links is a factor i.e. A link is given a low link value when it
is first picked up by a search engine, as it ages and remains on a site its weight is
Link acquisition rate – A link building strategy is important e.g. start with a smaller
amount of links on your site and then consistently acquire more over time.
Trusted sites – Linking from a trusted site is a much stronger strategy than having
many links from untrusted sites. It is difficult to determine which websites are
trustworthy or not.
Link analysis is one of the most important actions, second only to proper keyword
research, (Thies & Davies 2007, p. 172.)
As stated by Thies and Davies (2007, pp. 173), “The first step is to deploy the link:
command in Google to determine the backlink strength of their main competitors. For
example, when a query link: www.domain.com is entered into the search box, the results
display the backlinks that Google’s willing to show for that domain.” But don’t just rely on
this information e.g. not all search engines will display all the incoming links to a site. Plus,
they don’t display the PageRank or TrustRank.
Importance of Page Rank and Trust Rank
According to Thies and Davies (2007, pp. 175), PageRank is a ranking out of ten that
loosely indicate the value Google attributes to a web page. The PageRank of a webpage
can be viewed by using the downloadable Google toolbar.
Thies and Davies (2007, pp. 175) believes that Trust Rank is a technique developed to
semi-automatically separate useful web pages from spam e.g. if the TrustRank of website X
is 10 and it links to Y, then Y will gain a large portion of website X trust. A good tool that
can calculate a website’s TrustRate is the SEOmoz website.
According to Thies and Davies (2007, pp. 177), the positioning of a link on a page has
an enormous influence on how a search engine determines its value.
Thies and Davies (2007, pp. 177) states, “Context refers to the way the link is situated
relative to the content around it, rather than where it physically appears on the page as in
the case with location. A link’s context helps inform the weighting granted by the search
engine, and it has much to do with how convincing and natural the link appears when the
spiders come a calling.”
How to Build Links
Directory submission – These are important to building traffic and link popularity, if
Link exchange strategies, such as:
Reciprocal Links – exchanging links with other webmasters, site owners and SEO
professionals (this is easy).
o A good way to find reciprocal partners is to run searches for your keyword
phrases on the major engines.
o Exchanging links with sites already ranking your keywords can only boost the
association with the keywords.
o TIP: Adding words SUBMIT and ADD URL to the query shows sites with a links
o Tools to use include: PR Prowler by TopNet Solutions takes about a third of the
time compared to manually searching.
Digging into your competitors’ sites – find all the relevant links and contact their
Content distribution – “….if you provide quality unique content, others will want to
post that content on their sites and in their newsletters. In return, In return, you’ll
receive credit as the author and gain a link to your site.” (Thies and Davis)
Content distribution channels – Blogs and RSS Feeds:
o RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Sit Summary or RDF Sit
Summary) and is an XML-based system for content distribution. There are 3
reasons for adding a feed to increase rankings.
o Through a specific feed other website owners can be brought onto your website.
o RSS pages can feed content into specific pages on the owners site.
o Feeds provides an opportunity to promote your feed to websites and directories.
o Blogs – it is highly recommended to publish your blog to your domain. You’ll
need your FTP details and create a path on domain. You’ll need your FTP
details and create a path on your site.
o Articles – you have full control of the content and links etc. – TIP: to follow any
possible plagiarism of your work, set up a Google Alert for both title and random
line in the article and Google will send an email notification of any instance the
o Press releases.
o Commenting on blogs and forum.
“Link baiting is the practice of producing content or tools solely to attract links to your
site.” (Thies and Davis)
o DigitalPoint’s Tool – a keyword suggestion tool.
o SEOMoz’s content –a back link tool.
Paid links – this is not best-practice.
3. Website SEO
3.1. Meta Tags and Keywords
<META name="description" content="Everything you wanted to know about
<META name="keywords" content="Plants, planting, botanical names,
The meta tag is used by search engines to allow them to more accurately list your site in
their indexes. Meta tags are HTML codes that are inserted into the header on a web page,
after the title tag. When people refer to meta tags in the context of search engine
optimization, they are usually referring to the meta description tag and the meta
The meta description tag and the meta keywords tag are not seen by users. Instead, the
tags main purpose is providing meta document data to user agents such as search engines.
The meta description tag allows you to influence the description of your page in the
crawlers that support the tag. This may not influence the description tag in every search
engine. For example, Google ignores the meta description tag and instead will automatically
generate its own description.
The meta keywords tag allows you to provide additional text for crawler-based search
engines to index along with your body copy. The meta keywords tag is sometimes useful as
a way to reinforce the terms you think are important but most major crawlers ignore it as it
has been abused. For instance, if you mention a keyword in the body in various places and
also in the meta keywords tag there's a possibility it might boost your page a bit higher for
those words. But there is no point in adding keywords that aren't used in the body at all.
Keywords are not only reserved for the Meta Keyword tag. There are four types of places
where keywords need to be used to fully optimise each web page, for both your readers
and the search engines:
On the web page
o Headings and sub-headings
o Web page content
Behind the web page, in the coding
o File name
o Title tag or page title
o Meta description tag
o Meta keyword tags
o Alt tags on images
Other web pages
o On your website
o On other websites
Domain name - if you don't have one yet
Title tags (technically called Title Elements) tell both users and search engines what the
topic of a particular page is. The title tag appears in three key places - The Browser, Search
Result Pages and External Websites.
Page title contents are displayed in the search results - if your document appears in a
search results page, the contents of the title tag will usually appear in the first line of the
results. Words in the title are bolded if they appear in the user's search query. This can help
users recognize if the page is likely to be relevant to their search.
It is recommended that you avoid putting unneeded keywords in your title tags but you
should however place important keywords close to the front of the Title Tag as the closer to
the start of the title tag a keyword is, the more helpful it will be for ranking and the more
likely a user will be to click them in search result.
The title for your homepage can list the name of your website/business and could include
other bits of important information like the physical location of the business or maybe a few
of its main focuses or offerings.
Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page's content. Don't choose a
title that is not related to the content on the page such as using default titles like "Untitled"
or "New Page 1". It is important that each of your pages has a unique title tag, avoid using
a single title tag across all of your site as this helps the search engine make distinctions
between the different pages on your site.
Use brief, but descriptive titles, titles can be both short and informative. Avoid using
extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to users. It is recommended that you use 70
characters or less in your title as that is the limit the search engine will display in search
3.3. Alternative Text
All images can have a distinct filename and "alt", (alternative), attribute. The "alt"
attribute allows you to specify alternative text for the image if it cannot be displayed for
some reason. If a user is viewing your site on a browser that doesn't support images, or is
using alternative technologies, such as a screen reader, the contents of the alt attribute
provide information about the picture. Similarly, 'search engines have the same problem as
blind users. They cannot "see" the images', (Britios, 2007).
The words used within an image’s "alt" attribute should therefore be its text equivalent and
convey the same information or serve the same purpose that the image would.
Ask yourself this question: If you were to replace the image with the text, would most users
receive the same basic information, and would it generate the same response?
Some examples, (Britios, 2007):
If a search button is a magnifying glass or binoculars its "alt" text should be "search"
or "find" not "magnifying glass" or "binoculars".
If an image is meant to convey the literal contents of the image, then a description is
If it is meant to convey data, then that data is what is appropriate.
If it is meant to convey the use of a function, then the function itself is what should be
Some "Alt" Attribute Guidelines, (Britios, 2007):
Always add "alt" attributes to images. Alt is mandatory for accessibility and for valid
For images that play only a decorative role in the page, use an empty "alt"
(i.e. alt="") or a CSS background image so that reading browsers do not bother users
by uttering things like "spacer image".
Remember that it is the function of the image you are trying to convey. For instance;
any button images should not include the word "button" in the "alt" text. They should
emphasize the action performed by the button.
"Alt" text should be determined by context. The same image in a different context
may need drastically different "alt" text.
Try to flow "alt" text with the rest of the text because that is how it will be read with
adaptive technologies like screen readers. Someone listening to your page should
hardly be aware that a graphic image is there.
Some people try and abuse the use of the "alt" attribute, trying to stuff it with keywords to
achieve a certain keyword density, which is not as relevant for rankings now as it once was,
but be warned. High keyword density can, on some search engines, trigger spam filters,
which may result in a penalty for your site’s ranking. Even without such a penalty, your
site’s rankings will not benefit from this tactic.
This method also puts people who use screen readers at a disadvantage because the "alt"
attributes of images are read aloud as well.
Some final tips for image SEO, (Britios, 2007):
Choose a logical file name that reinforces the keywords. You can use hyphens in the
file name to isolate the keyword, but avoid exceeding two hyphens. Avoid using
underscores as a word separator, like for example "brilliant_diamonds.jpg".
Label the file extension. For example, if the image search engine sees a ".jpg" (JPEG)
file extension, it’s going to assume that the file is a photo and if it sees a ".gif" (GIF)
file extension, it’s going to assume that it is a graphic.
Make sure that the text nearby the image that is relevant to that image.
3.4. Different Search Engines
A search engine is a database system designed to index and categorize internet
addresses, otherwise known as URLs (for example, http://www.yourwebsite.com).
When looking at search engines, it's best to focus on Google as it is the most popular search
engine and the majority of techniques used to get good rankings in Google flow through to
the other major search engines.
Major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and MSN find your site using a program
called a 'spider', (or sometimes referred to as a robot). These companies have spiders going
out on the internet gathering data on new and existing websites 24/7.
They visit websites and try to work their way through all the links of the site and read the
content of the pages to work out where to index the pages in their engines.
This means that even though you can manually submit your website to a search engine to
be visited by a spider, most of the time the spider will find your website as long as it is
being linked to by another website that has already been found.
Once your site is found, the spider uses complex algorithms to try and determine which
keywords and phrases suit your pages and where they should be ranked for each of these
keywords and phrases. Spiders will often keep re-visiting sites to ensure their indexes are
up to date.
Here are some SEO tips relating to search engines, (Tech, 2008):
Ensure that your website code is search engine friendly and that all pages are
optimised for your desired keywords.
Regularly add new content (such as newsletters or articles). Articles with content
relating to the products or services you sell and that contain phrases used by people
searching help greatly.
Be patient. It can take months for your website to get good rankings no matter what
Don't be tempted to throw hundreds of dollars at Google Adwords and other paid
search engine advertising unless you are sure you are going to get a good return on
Only link to websites that are related or complimentary to your industry. Always
ensure that when you link to someone they link back to your site too.
Be wary of companies that offer a guarantee to get you on the first page. Often the
small print will mean that they only need to get you on the first page for a non-
competitive search phrase which in reality is not going to bring any new business.
3.5. Help with Optimisation
One of the best ways to get your site listed in a search engine such as Google is to be
linked from a site that has already been indexed by a "spider", or gets a lot of hits, but this
isn't always an option. An alternative would be submitting your website directly to the main
search engines using links such as these:
Another option is to make use of the many free SEO tools available on the web which can
help with optimising your website. Some examples:
Lastly, here is an 'award-winning' Top 10 SEO Tips list, (Wiideman, 2010):
1. Find the Best Keywords
2. Discover What Your Competitors Are Doing
3. Write Very Linkable And Sharable Content
4. Optimize Your Title And Meta Tags
5. Optimizing Your Headings And Subheadings
6. Use Title and "Alt" Attributes
7. Optimizing File Nomenclatures
8. Tell the Search Engines What To Index
9. Feed Search Engines Static And Xml Site Maps
10. Use Checklists And Validators
4. Getting People Back
One of the best advantages of marketing a website is it can be very cheap to advertise,
but one of the worst things about marketing a website is, because it is cheap it is also very
competitive. Like most good things, there is usually a price to be paid.
Even though running a business can seem like it is a competition and the price of losing in
that competition can be very unforgiving, honesty usually does pay.
Trustbasedmarketing.com (p.1) states in an internet based article focusing on trust-based
marketing, that trust based marketing sounds like an oxymoron, but the marketing tradition
Wikipedia (p.1) mentions that it is very likely being honest and open is the best path to
building consumer trust and creating a more loyal customer base. Wikipedia (p1) also
mentions that according to research trust-based businesses will in the end have higher sales
volumes, and lower marketing costs than companies that survive on push-based marketing
Patricia , Joseph, Cannon (1999, p. 35) states that research has shown that the information
provided by a trusted party is used more and thus provide greater value to the recipient.
Organisational buyers who trust salespeople exhibit more integrity and bargaining
strategies, which leads to the benefits for both parties”, in other words trust builds trust.
An example of a well marketed website is www.crazydomain.com, another good example is
www.optus.com.au. Even though these websites have only a little in common with regard to
what they sell, both the look and feel of these two websites is very similar.
They both have lots of information on their homepage
They both display their prices very clearly
They both have amusing/cute pictures on their website
Their logos are displayed in the top left-hand corner
They both have specials or promotions clearly displayed
The advantages of shopping at each service is very clear from the beginning as all of these
points give a feeling of familiarity and trust to the consumer. If you wish to improve your
popularity and get people back, it is not good enough to show you are still in business.
What is just as important is developing a trust-based relationship the people you intend to
do business with.
5. Offline Marketing
What is offline marketing? Offline marketing is the path to gaining clients and profits
through the use of postcards, direct response letters, flyers, etc. compared to the inter
which targets customers who come online for information. This marketing technique can
gain the attention of customer’s who aren’t familiar with technology or those who may not
have the time to search online to find what they need. When it comes to offline marketing,
there are several effective methods to reach your target market.
This can be done using direct mail or postcards simply because your target markets still use
their mailboxes in this present day. Focusing on your local community with flyers or
brochures (to name a few), redirecting them to your website can have a dynamic effect on
your business, because it brings a wider range of exposure of possible customers. For
example, if a person were to obtain a magnet or a pen in the house or car where others
who stop by and see, it will in effect bring more business online.
Meeting customers face to face is important in regards to attaining your credibility and value
as a business. Your customers will find comfort in purchasing your products and services
from your business, because you’re not just another figure behind a computer screen but an
actual person who is willing to solve their problems. Customers hate being lied to and are
less likely to notice your offline marketing strategy when being lied to. This has resulted in
a pessimistic market which is difficult to successfully advertise your product through
conventional marketing. For example, if something is too good to be true then it must be a
lie. Being honest with the customer can go a long way in terms of the product that you’re
It doesn’t mean that your product isn’t as good as another company’s, and therefore the
customer is better off going to that rival company at half the cost, rather concentrate on the
facts that your product will “make their life easier and more enjoyable or more convenient”
(Offline Marketing Infoweb, 01 August 2011, p.1). Gaining a reputation for being straight
forward will be invaluable. Don’t undersell yourself, but be prepared to tone down the
rhetoric. Long-term speaking, when the customer trusts the salesman, they’re more likely
to spend more.
However if this strategy is unsuccessful, then there are many other ways to achieve
customer attention through flyers, brochures, workshops, presentations, radio shows, print
advertisements in magazines and newspapers in your local city of residence.
Direct response marketing is geared towards generating a response now. Not later, not in a
month’s time – but now. Most businesses tend to think that their business takes time to
gain exposure in order to achieve their desired sales. However this is not the case. Most
businesses don’t realise, the longer they’re paying for exposure their advertising money is
going down the drain. If your business doesn’t have a million dollar advertising budget like
big companies, then don’t engage in brand building market. Rather engage and continue
with direct response marketing.
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