Search engine optimization

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“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural," or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic"), search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users.” (Wikipedia, retrieved 18:59, 5 March 2012 (CET))

See also:

Strategies and technology

Wikipedia makes the distinction between white hat (good design approved by search engines) versus black hat practices (using techniques such spamdexing or cloaking). This wiki was a strong target for such abusive tactics and this is why new user creation is now being screened.

“SEO means two different things. For Google and honest people, it is an activity which focuses on optimizing sites for crawlers. For the SEO industry, it is an activity focused on boosting rankings. Thanks to the SEO industry the word is no longer useless for the former definition. It has becoming synonymous with boosting rankings.” (Slashdot discussion, March 18 2012).

“I am a partner in a small SEO company and I feel dirty for it, but of course the money is good. Whenever I meet someone from google or Microsoft search I tell them how I long for the day they make my job obsolete. The net effects of of SEO are that search results are corrupted and instead of showing the most relevant or best source of original information, they show results of companies who have bought to most links and paid for the most fake blog and forum posts. SEO is about as bad for society as CDO and CDS trading by financial companies. SEO is robbing society of good information and knowledge.” (Slashdot discussion, March 18 2012).

WebMaster Guidelines

The idea is to structure a web site and its contents in a way that search engines like, i.e. one should provide both structure and "real" content that will allow to match search terms to some kind of Latent semantic indexing (LSI) vector space and latent semantic analysis (LSA). This is the way to go if you aim at long lasting and solid SEO. Of course, it will take some time.

Read Google Webmaster Guidelines and Yahoo! Webmaster Guidelines


SEO services usually try to insert links in other web sites, either in some acceptable "white" way or through aggressive and counter-productive strategies like wiki spamming.


Local web traffic tools

Search engine services

SEO tools

  • Alexa provides some kind of global web metrics. It's the most popular web site to establish your world-wide ranking. However, data are strongly biaised since Alex cannot know what the real traffic is. Their sample method depends on people having their browser extensions installed, for example, Alexa Sparky or quirk for Firefox. Their data page claims that they have over 25,000 different browser extensions, a figure that is hard to believe. A search for Firefox "Alexa" extensions leads to 54 extension names. Some of these may provide Alexa with data and of course other extensions may too. For a critique of Alexa's performance and claims, read How Does Alexa Track Traffic – Do They Really Have a Grasp of Your Traffic? by By Kyle On June 25, 2013. A less critical description is Alexa Rank – a thorough examination, May 2013. I could be possible that Alexa provides somewhat accurate data for larger sites that are in the top 100'000 or so. For EduTechWiki which is probably a top 150'000 web site we found huge differences between Alexa and SimilarWeb.
  • SimilarWeb offers similar functionaly Alexa, using the same strategy, i.e. have people install browser extensions like Similar sites.


  • Patterns in Unstructured Data, A Presentation to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation by Clara Yu, John Cuadrado, Maciej Ceglowski, J. Scott Payne (undated). A good introduction that includes LSI.


  • Berry, M. W., and Browne, M., Understanding Search Engines: Mathematical Modeling and Text Retrieval, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia, (2005).