Search engine optimization
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SEO, or "search engine optimization", is the clumsy art of struggling to get one's page to come up first when searched for on a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing to name but a few.
The sociopathic version (and generally understood meaning of the phrase) is to make a zillion generic web pages and link them all to each other (link building), spam websites that allow comments or user-made content (such as blogs, wikis etc.) with links to one's webpages, and stuff one's pages with keywords that may or may not be relevant (spamdexing).
The non-sociopathic version is basically how to write one's pages and design your site in a sensible and reasonable manner. But webmasters are more likely to hire SEO specialists if they don't phrase it as "I teach you to do your damn job properly." (Or, more generously, "I tell your boss to let you do your job properly.")
SEO and Wikipedia
SEO specialists frequently have a serious hate-on for Wikipedia, because it's a top five website, and the first result on most Google searches, even though Wikipedia goes to no effort to generate high rankings. They just have this website and put stuff on it, that's about what it says it is, and that people want to read! Wikipedia also instructs search engines not to take into account links from it when ranking other websites, in order to reduce the effectiveness of spam.
When you get spam e-mail promising to get a specific website elevated to the front pages of search engines such as Google, assuming you are at all interested, ask the following question: "For what search string?" SEO scam artists, you see, may actually be able to deliver on their promise as long as the search string is quite specific or less competitive in terms of traffic volumes. The more competitive and unique search strings will require a reputable expert or company with a proven track record, but expect large projected costings in to the thousands.
- Although in 2005, Wikipedia would frequently rank thirtieth after its own mirror sites on searches for text unique to it, to the point where some Wikipedians asked Google "Dudes, why are we behind our own mirrors?" It was soon after this that Google started applying serious duplicate content penalties and Wikipedia started topping every search.