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  • Writer's pictureKaren Divya Shekar

SEO: Bridging the Gap Between Search Engines and People

I’ll tell you what I do for a living.


I take two different coloured threads, for the sake of illustration, let’s say a blue one and a red one, and weave them together to create bespoke cloth for every customer that wants it.


The first thread, the blue one, is the language that a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!) understands and the other thread, the red one, is the language which people understand. I use both these languages and create the content that you read online.


Now, let me elaborate.


Every single webpage on the internet has probably used SEO to get to the Search Engine Results Page rank it holds. I’ll tell you what that is and how they do it in a minute.


First, understand that search engines don’t “get” natural language. At least they didn’t, until recently. So how did a search engine know which results to show its users when they typed in something as crazy as: “How to amputate my foot?”


Search engines throw up all the relevant information to queries like that. Try that example above. You’re sure to get something on limb amputation. So how does the search engine know? It hasn’t got a brain to make the connection. Yet it does show you relevant content. Fascinating, isn’t it?


Search engines do something called indexation to make the connection.


When you create a webpage and it goes “live”, a “web spider” crawls that page to understand what it is about. It picks up terms on the page, usually nouns and if it finds something that matches with what users have previously searched for, it indexes that page for that particular “search word”. So every time a user enters that same search word they’ll be shown that page (subject to a lot of conditions that I’ll discuss much, much later in another article perhaps). So the connection’s made. That simple isn’t it?


So Google and other search engines maintain this index, similar to a telephone directory, (if you’re from that generation).


Everything you type into the search bar is analysed and compared to this index to make the connection. Once it’s made, it displays the results in order of the most relevant page. That order is the “rank” a page holds. The page that ranks first usually answers your question best.


Search engines have a whole host of factors based on which they rank the pages. They look at the average time a user spends on the site, the relevancy of the website and other factors.


So why is coming in first rank important? The page that ranks first gets the most number of views, which usually translates into more business for that website. And that’s where websites want to be.


So my job entails creating content that ranks for specific search words, in the hope that future users, who search for the same stuff, land on that page and somehow get converted into clients. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Remember I talked about SEO? It stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It refers to content that is “optimised” for search engines. If you write content that is both easy for the search engine to understand what that page is about and users to gain information from, you’ve bridged the gap between search engines and people.


In practice it’s a pretty easy job in around six months.


However, it does involve a particular skillset or a “knack” for the job. You’ve got to learn the fine art of weaving. Necessary words have got to be mingled with dressy words to create sentences that give information as clearly and succinctly as possible.


Every day I have to make quick decisions. Which information is relevant? How many unnecessary words do I have to weed out? Can I conclude this in a shorter paragraph? Is what I’m writing relevant to the headline?


One of the problems I face at work is that I’m expected to know something about everything, because we cater to clients from backgrounds as vast as finance to education. We have to write articles in around three days’ time and deliver somewhere around ten to fifteen articles a day. So every day is a hectic process of gaining information and building my own “knowledge” base.


The web is a noisy place. There are 3 million blogs posted every day. That should give you an idea into the competition I have to face if I were to make this my permanent career. That’s why it’s hard to be a writer, unless you do it for the love of it (and I believe every writer does that) you can expect to be disappointed.


But when I think of the complex web that SEO is I want to make a random prediction here. It won’t last very long. That’s because search engines are getting smarter. They are turning into our very own Jeeves. They’ll soon “get” natural language, its nuances, and its intricacies.


There won’t be any need for a middle man to weave two languages together. The job will slowly phase into a journalist’s job.


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4 Comments


Mannivannan Divianathan
Mannivannan Divianathan
Apr 12, 2021

💎

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Mannivannan Divianathan
Mannivannan Divianathan
Apr 12, 2021

very good summary of SEO

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shinolashekar
Apr 11, 2021

So simple. You have made complicated computer jargon sound so understandable. Keep writing....

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sharonpriya6
Apr 11, 2021

But like if they could get language. They still wouldn't get experience. Writers portray human experiences. Maybe someday AI could get that close or maybe not. Who knows. Nice read enjoyed it very much.

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