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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

1. Introduction: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Search Engine Optimizer means the act of altering the website so that it may rank well for particular terms, especially with crawler-based search engines. It is the process of identifying factors in a webpage which would impact search engine accessibility to it and fine-tuning the elements of a website so it can achieve the highest possible visibility when a search engine responds to a relevant query.
Using even a few Search Engine Optimization techniques can drastically improve the ranking of the website in search engine and attract a large number of users towards the website. It is the most powerful way than any other to improve the user-base of any kind of websites. If implied cautiously, it alone can justify the cost spend on design and development of a website.

2. Importance of Search Traffic: There are 3,881,737,543 Internet Users in the world till March, 2018 (Internet Live Stats, 2018) and almost all users depend on the search engine to locate their information over the web. To be simple, the main source of traffic of any website comes from the search engine and perhaps the least comes directly by entering the website address in the address box of the browser and the referral from social network used to remain in between. The users only able to use the websites or the website provide a value addition to his/her knowledge only when the search engine able to retrieve it, otherwise it remains hidden within the crores of other related websites. Further, if the website is not found by using the search engine, users consider that the website does not exist.

3. Importance of First Page Ranking and No. 1 Position: According to Chitika (2013) “A website with the first position in the search results contributed to 33% of the traffic, compared to 18% for the second position”. The third result used to receive 11.4%, the 4th one 8.1% and the 5the one 6.1%. The drop in traffic from one page to another one is even more significant. While the 10th results receive 2.4% traffic, the 11the one receives 1.0% traffic. A comparison of the statistics shows that the 1st result in the search engine result list receive almost double traffic than that of the second one and retrieving the website by the search engine beyond top ten results yields almost null result as 75% of Internet users never scroll past the first page of search results (Kagan, 2011). That is why, ranking higher in a search engine is a prime importance for the webmaster otherwise all hard work will be of no use as the intended user will not be able to locate the website. This is the reason why every webmaster should try to avoid being the last on the search engine response list and giving his/her effort to being the first, what others on the web are trying to be.

4. Why Search Engine Optimization Means Google Optimization: Google has dominated the search engine market, maintaining an 87.1 percent market share in December 2017 (The Statistics Portal, 2018). According to the NETMarketShare (2018), for the period of January, 2018 to February, 2018, Google has the market share of 72.26% search traffic and Baidu (13.37%), Bing (7.84%) and Yahoo - Global (4.60%). So, in simple, search engine optimization means Google optimization.

5. Need of Search Engine Optimization: The need of search engine optimization for the any kind of website whether it is a digital library, institutional repository or simply a website can be looked from the following angles-
a) Website to be Found by the User: The popularity of the search engine grows to the level that more than half of all visitors to a website now come from a search engine rather than from a direct link or from a link from another webpage or social media. So, the need of search engine optimization appears in the phrase - there is no need to develop a website if it is difficult for the user to find it through search engines.
b) Search Engine is the Major Source of Website Traffic: In any kind of websites, the majority of web traffic comes through the major commercial search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Although the traffic comes from direct hits, social media and other directory websites but they are negligible in comparison to the traffic from the search engine. So, there is an immense need for SEO.
c) To Justify the Expenditure: If the website can get top rankings for keywords that match the content then there is a guaranteed to have a large number of visitors. It means yielding a result of the hard work on designing and developing a website. If anyone has to justify the expenditure on the website, then the increased website traffic will do it. If anyone selling something or displaying advertisement in the website then they can transfer this traffic into the profit.
d) To Show the Expertise as a Good Webmaster: The emergence of the web 2.0 technologies made it possible for anyone to have a website within an hour. However, if a particular website does not appear in the top 10 search engine result list for a particular keyword or search terms then it is consider as a fault of the webmaster(s) or the person(s) who develop the website rather than the fault of the search engines.

6. Search Engine Optimization Ways Recommended by Google: Even the person who claims to know about the search engine optimization techniques then he/she only knows half of it. However, at least we have to do something that likely to improve the ranking of our website in the search engine rather than to remain ideal. Some of such ways are mentioned in the “Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide” and are listed below for ready reference. If they are followed properly, they likely to bring positive effect on the search engine ranking of a website and can drastically improve the number of web hits received by a previously non-optimized website. It can simply bring more users towards the website.
a) Short and Unique Page Title Within <title> </title> Tag: To be listed a page by the search engine, it is a good practice to include the title of a particular document inside the <title> </title> tag. The title should reflect the page contents. According to the new XML and XHTML standards <title> must be the very first tag in the <head> section of every document. The title can include the title of the Website and a few focus areas or offerings. When the document appears in a search results page, the contents of the title tag will usually appear in the first line of the results. Again, when the user will visit the page, the page’s title will appear at the top of the browser.
Positive Points to Consider
i) The title page ideally should not be more than 70 characters long or consisting of 10 words in maximum whichever is less as because Google generally display only upto 70 character in maximum in search result from title page.
ii) The title should effectively reflect the page’s content.
iii) Each page of the website should have a unique title.
iv) The title should be short, but informative.
Points to Avoid
i) Choosing a title that has no relation to the page’s content.
ii) Choosing formless titles like “Page 1”, “9876”, etc.
iii) Choosing a single title tag to a large number of pages.
iv) Choosing long titles.
v) Stuffing unneeded keywords in title tags.
Recommended Example
<title>Gauhati University Digital Library – Free Journals, Free Book, Thesis</title>

b) Short Summary of the Webpage within “description” meta tag: The summary of the page should be mentioned in a single or two sentences within the <meta /> tag. The <meta /> tag should be placed after the <head>, <title> and </title> tag, but before closing </head> tag. Google might use the text mentioned within the <meta /> tag as snippets for the pages.
Positive Points to Consider
i) In the meta tag only include the summary of the webpage.
ii) Write the summary of the webpage to inform and create interest among the users.
iii) Writing different meta tag for different pages of the website is advisable.
Points to Avoid
i) Writing a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page.
ii) Writing generic descriptions like “This is a web page”.
iii) Filling the description with only keywords.
iv) Writing very long description meta tag.
v) Writing a single description meta tag for a large group of pages.
Recommended Example
<meta name=“description” content=“Digital Library of Gauhati University offer the free online access to Journals, Books and Thesis.”>

c) Descriptive Name for Directories and Sub-Directories: Providing a descriptive directory or sub-directory name will help the search engine and users with a “friendlier” URL. It also informs the search engine what the target directory is all about.
Positive Points to Consider
i) Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL.
ii) Provide the name of the directory or sub-directory so that it can be used as an Anchor text.
Points to Avoid
i) Creating confusing and unfriendly directory or sub-directory name.
ii) A hierarchical level of more than two sub-directories.
iii) Using directory names that have no relation to the content in them.
Recommended Example
article- to include article related to anything.

d) Short Keyword Based URL: The URL with relevant words provides users and search engines with more information about the page. The URL to a document is also displayed as part of a search result in Google just below the document's title and snippet.
Positive Points to Consider
i) Use relevant keywords in URLs
ii) Make URLs shorter
iii) Use lower case in the URL.
iv) Use one URL to link to internal pages and for the other user who used to refer to you.
Points to Avoid
i) Using lengthy URLs with unnecessary information.
ii) Choosing generic page names like “page1.html”.
iii) Using excessive keywords in URL.
iv) Accessing same pages from subdomains and the root directory.
v) Using odd capitalization of URLs.
Recommended Example

e) Easy Navigation Structure: Providing an easy navigation structure will help the user in finding their interested resources quickly and effectively and it also liked by the search engines. If the website has many pages, organizing them into a structure can be a good. If possible, a ‘breadcrumb lists” will be an added advantage. A breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the home page.
Positive Points to Consider
i) Add navigation pages when it makes sense.
ii) Effectively use the navigation into the internal link structure of the website.
iii) Allow users to go to an upper directory by removing the last part of the URL.
iv) Use text for navigation instead of images and animation.
Points to Avoid
i) Don’t create a complex navigation structure.
ii) Removing a last portion of the URL should not produce a 404 error.
iii) To arrive at the required information user should not go through more than three clicks.
iv) Avoid drop down for the menus.
Recommended Example

f) Prepare two sitemaps- One for User and Another for Search Engine: A sitemap displays the structure of the website in a hierarchical listing so that the visitors may visit the page if they are having problems finding pages on the website. To better optimize the website, it may have two sitemaps-one HTML sitemaps for the user and another XML sitemaps for the search engines.
Positive Points to Consider
i) A sitemap with links to all the pages or most important pages of the website.
Points to Avoid
i) HTML sitemap page with broken links.
ii) HTML sitemap that simply lists pages without organizing them.
Recommended Example
It is difficult to provide an example of a sitemaps. However, one can use to generate a sitemap in Google compatible form.

g) Have a Useful 404 Page: Users may occasionally come to a page that doesn’t exist on the website, either by following a broken link or typing a wrong URL. In such cases, having a custom 404 page that guides users back to a working page on the website can be helpful.
Positive Points to Consider
i) 404 page may lead to the Home page of the website.
Points to Avoid
i) Displaying only a vague message like “Not found”, “404”, etc.
ii) Using a design for 404 pages that isn’t consistent with the rest of the website.
Recommended Example: Google provides a 404 widget ( that one can be embeded in the 404 page to automatically populate it with many useful features. One recommended example may be as follows-
The Page you are looking for does not exist in our Website. Kindly Click Here to go to the Home page of the Website or Search in the Search Box to locate your information.

h) Unique and Quality Information will Increase the Recognition on their Own: The quality content much influenced the webpage visibility in search engine, so, much emphasis should be given to develop informative and useful article. It has more power than any other search engine optimization techniques. When users will find good content they likely to want to direct other users to it by way of sharing it through Email, social media, forum post, blog posts and so on. Again, “Users often leave Web pages in 10-20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people's attention for much longer” (Nielsen, 2011a).

i) Appropriately Including Few Relevant Keywords within Content: The webmaster(s) should try to include few relevant keywords including acronym that likely to be used by the user in locating the webpage appropriately in a natural way within the content itself.
Points to Avoid
i) Overwhelming insertion of keywords (index spamming through overfilled keywords).
ii) Deceptively hiding keywords from users, but displaying it to search engines.
Recommended Example
Google AdWords provides a handy Keyword Tool that helps one to discover keyword variations and see the approximate search volume for each keyword.

j) Writing Easy to Read Content: Users like the content that is well written and easy to follow.
Points to Avoid
i) Text with spelling and grammatical mistakes.
ii) Embedding text within images.

k) Writing Organized Content: The topic may be divided into division and sections to helps users find the content they want faster.
Points to Avoid
i) Dumping large amounts of text on varying topics onto a page.
ii) Text without paragraph, subheading, or layout separation.

l) Continuously Creating New Content: Creating new content on regular basis will attract the existing user as well as new user to visit the website.
Points to Avoid
i) Copying existing content to create new content.
ii) Duplicate and near duplicate content.

m) Creating good Anchor Tag: Anchor text is the clickable text that users will click or see to arrive at a new webpage and is placed within the anchor tag <a href="..."> </a>. Links on the page maybe internal—pointing to other pages on your site—or external—leading to content on other sites. In both cases, good anchor texts provide hints to the user as well as search engines about the content.
Positive Points to Consider
i) Using the anchor texts that accurately describe the content.
ii) The anchor text should provide a basic idea of what the page linked to is all about.
iii) Write concise text.
Points to Avoid
i) Writing generic anchor text like “page”, “article”, or “click here”.
ii) Writing long anchor text.
iii) Using text that is off-topic or has no relation to the content of the page linked to.
Recommended Example
<a href=""> How to Prepare for UGC NET Examination </a>.

n) Link Should Look Like Link to the User and Search Engine: Format the links in such a way so that they are easy to spot by the user and the search engines.
Points to Avoid
i) Using CSS or text styling that make links look just like regular text.
ii) Link look like text and so users miss the links.
iii) Accidentally clickable links.

o) Use Anchor Text for Internal Links Too: Paying more attention to the anchor text used for internal links can help users and Google navigate your website better.
Points to Avoid
i) Using excessively keyword-filled or lengthy anchor text just for search engines.
ii) Creating unnecessary links that don't help with the user's navigation of the website.

p) Distinct File Name for Image: Provide an accurate file name of the image that you are uploading to the website.
Positive Points to Consider
i) Short and descriptive filename.
Points to Avoid
i) Using generic filenames like "image1.jpg", "pic.gif", "1.jpg".
ii) Writing long filenames.

q) Image Related Information should be Included Within <alt> Attribute: Whenever the image <img /> is inserted in the HTML document, it is good to consider inserting the alt=“” attribute and provide a hints what the image is all about. If you're using an image as a link, the alt text for that image becomes a must and will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link by search engines. Again, if a user is viewing your site on a browser that doesn't support images, or is using a screen reader, the contents of the alt attribute provide information about the picture.
Positive Points to Consider
i) Short and descriptive alt tag.
Points to Avoid
i) Creating images for links in navigation when text links could serve the same purpose.
ii) Stuffing keywords into alt text or copying and pasting entire sentences.
iii) Using only image link as navigation.

r) Store Image Files in Specialized Directories: Instead of having image files spread out in numerous directories and subdirectories across the website, consider including them into a single directory.
Positive Points to Consider
i) Use commonly supported file types like JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP.
ii) The extension of the filename should match with the file type.
Recommended Example

s) Supply an Image Sitemap file: An Image Sitemap file with structure similar to XML Sitemap can provide search engines with more information about the images found on the website.

t) Include <h1> to <h6> tag appropriately: Search engines used the heading tags as clues to what a page is about, so, if you are writing anything, fragment it into some parts-heading and sub-heading and use the <h1> to <h6> tag. If the words you want to be found for are in header tags, you have an increased chance of appearing in searches for those words. The <h1>, the most important, and ending with <h6>, the least important. On a page containing a news story, we might put the name of our site into an <h1> tag and the topic of the story into an <h2> tag.
Positive Points to Consider
i) Use heading tags where it makes sense.
Points to Avoid
i) Don’t put text in heading tags.
ii) Excessively using heading tags throughout the page.
iii) Using heading tag for styling text and not presenting structure.
ii) Don’t use heading tags where tags like <em> and <strong> may be more appropriate.

u) Make Effective Use of robots.txt: A "robots.txt" file tells search engines whether they can or cannot access the parts of your site. This file, must be named "robots.txt", and should be placed in the root directory of your site. Kindly note that if your site uses subdomains and you wish to have certain pages not crawled on a particular subdomain, you'll have to create a separate robots.txt file for that subdomain.
Points to Avoid
i) Allowing search result pages to be crawled.
ii) Allowing URLs created as a result of proxy services to be crawled.
Recommended Example
Google Webmaster Tools has a friendly robots.txt generator ( to help you create this “robots/txt” file.

v) Be Aware of rel="nofollow" for Links: Setting the value of the "rel" attribute of a link to "nofollow" will tell search engines that the links shouldn't be followed or pass your page's reputation to the pages linked to. Linking to sites that search engine considers spammy can affect the reputation of your own site.
Positive Points to Consider
i) When you don't want to pass your site's reputation to others, use nofollow.
ii) Automatically Nofollowing the links within the text of user comment should be ensured.
iii) Turn on CAPTCHAs and comment moderation.
iv) When needed use <meta name="robots" content="nofollow"> in the document.

w) Notify Search Engine of Mobile sites: The World is day-by-day going towards a mobile-based environment. The result for the same search query in desktop and mobile phones are quite different. So, when you have a mobile site, it is important to check whether your website is listed in the search queries coming from mobile phones or not by using the “site: operator”. “Nearly 40 percent of social media users access social media content from their mobile phone” Nielsen (2011b).
Positive Points to Consider
i) Verify that Search Engine can recognize your mobile URLs: The search engine checks each mobile URL to know whether they are viewable on a mobile device or not. Pages that are not viewable are excluded to appear in the search results of mobile devices. This determination is based on a variety of factors, one of which is the “Doc Type Definition" (DTD) declaration.
ii) Creation of a Mobile Sitemap: If you are having a mobile website, you should also have a Mobile Sitemap.
iii) Providing Access to the Search Engine to the Mobile Site: Some mobile sites refuse access to anything but mobile phones, making it impossible for search engine to crawl the site, and therefore making the site unsearchable. One can provide access to Google crawler for mobile sites by inserting the text “SetEnvIf User-Agent "Googlebot-Mobile" allow_ua”.
iv) Redirect user to the Correct Version: Sometimes when users access the website from mobile phone, they used to see the desktop version and vice versa. In redirecting the user, kindly note that the content on the corresponding mobile/desktop URL matches as closely as possible. Again, the mobile user should be able to access the desktop version when it unable to display the full content of the website and vice versa.
v) Submit the Mobile Sitemap to Search Engine: Notify the search engine about the existence of mobile sites especially to Google by way of submitting it through Google Webmaster Tool.
Points to Avoid
i) If you fail to configure your site correctly, your site could be considered to be cloaking, which can lead to your site disappearing from the search results.

x) Creation of Incoming Links / in-links from Quality Websites: To make use of any website it is very much important that it rank high for an immense number of searches in some general purpose search engine. Google’s PageRank algorithm helps rank web sites according to the number of in-links, and the calculated authority of each site providing the in-link. The website back link will gradually increase with time. The quality back link will increase the reputation of the website. So, if webmaster takes necessary steps to include his/her site in some other web sites with more authority then probability is there that the site rank higher.
In determining the rank, “Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves important weigh more heavily and help to make other pages important” (Google, 2017b).
“A high PageRank will only make it probable that your page will rank highly. Other factors play a role that may negate a high PageRank” (Evans, 2007) as the PageRank is not the only determining factor used by Google in ranking its results. Google now claims to be using more than 200 “signals” when determining the rank of a page, with thousands of machines involved in the ranking process for every query which equal to that of human in terms of judgment.
Positive Points to Consider
i) Making an Announcement through Blog: The incoming link also can be created by announcing the launch of the website through a blog post.
ii) Submitting the Site to Directory: The webmaster should add the URL to as many online directories as possible. Adding the site URL to About Us (, Best of the Web (, Curlie ( can be considered as must. These directories may be used by the search engines as one of their ranking factors.
iii) Announcement through Mailing List that have Archive: The announcement of the launching of the webpage through some mailing list of the subject to inform its potential users are a good way to publicize it. The mailing lists can be obtained by searching in the Goolge Groups (, Yahoo! Group (, Facebook Groups ( and so on.
Posting the news about the launching of the website over mailing list hopes to give two ways benefit. Firstly, it will inform all the member of the group about the URL, secondly it will create incoming link if the group have the provision of online archive.
iv) Inclusion of the website in some related articles of Wiki.
v) Sharing the launch of the website and big and interesting news through social media like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter.
vi) If the website is a business, online promotion can also be done by including the page in the Google Places.
Points to Avoid
i) Attempting to promote each new, small piece of content you create through social media.
ii) Involving your site in schemes where you’re content is artificially promoted through social media.
iii) Spamming link requests out to all sites related to your topic area.
iv) Purchasing links from another site with the aim of getting PageRank instead of traffic.
v) Posting news regarding the launch of the website in some unrelated groups.

7. Other Search Engine Optimization Techniques: Though a few Search Engine Optimization tips are not mentioned in the “Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide” however, they are proved to be helping in producing positive results. The choice is with the webmaster or website developer, how he/she uses these points of consideration for getting high rank in the search engine results list. Among them are
a) Users Selection from Search Result Page: Many search engine keep the records of how many times people chosen a particular page from previous search results list and accordingly determine the rank in the future search list.
b) Ranking in Human Edited Directories: The page that is rated high in the human generated directory also has the scope to get a high rank in many of the search engine result list.
c) Frequency of a Specific Keyword: Frequency of the specified words in the document highly influences the ranking in a search engine.
d) 301 Redirect: Setting up a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is also a good solution. One may also use canonical URL or use the rel="canonical" link element if there is a problem with redirect.
e) Meta Keywords: It is also good practice to consider including the keyword inside the <meta /> tag. The inclusion of both name =“description” and name=“keywords” is essential.
f) Bigger Sites are Better: Some websites are bigger than others by several orders of magnitude. Bigger may be better as far as rankings are concerned.
g) Following W3C Guideline: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. One way to achieve a good search engine ranking is to follow the guidelines of W3C. The following validators can be used to make your website W3C compliance-
i) Log Validator: Log Validator is a web server log analysis tool with focus on the quality of Web documents. This tool helps improve the quality of a whole site, step by step, by finding the most popular documents that need to be fixed in priority.
ii) MarkUp Validator:  MarkUp Validator ( also known as the HTML validator, helps check Web documents in formats like HTML and XHTML, SVG or MathML.
iii) Link Checker: The Link Checker ( checks anchors (hyperlinks) in a HTML/XHTML document or full Websites and is useful to find broken links.
iv) CSS Validator: The CSS Validator ( validates CSS stylesheets or documents that use CSS stylesheets.
v) Unicorn: Unicorn ( is W3C's Unified Validator.

8. Tools to Monitor the Website: To know whether you are doing right or wrong or in which direction you are leading your website, you can use some of the free tools available over the web.
a) Make use of Free Webmaster Tools: Google Webmaster Tool help website developer to know how Google is interacting with the website and by this way can get useful information about the website regarding what is going right and what is going wrong. It helps to identify the issues that need to be addressed. Yahoo! Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Tools also offer free tools for webmasters.
b) Analytics of the Website: Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. Web analytics is not just a tool for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website. Google Analytics is the most widely used on-site web analytics service; although new tools are emerging that provide additional layers of information, including heat maps and session replay. The source of traffic of the website, the type of browser users are using to access the website, the time spent on a particular page and such others data can be gathered by using the Google Analytics.
c) Google Website Optimizer: Google Website Optimizer was a free website optimization tool that helped online marketers and webmasters increase visitor conversion rates and overall visitor satisfaction by continually testing different combinations of website content.

9. Conclusion: Search Engine Optimization techniques change with time and even the same technique does not work for different kinds of search engines. Changing search engine policies, people’s ignorance about the SEO techniques are the issues that need to be dealt with while heading towards the SEO. Kindly note if implied wrongly even the person who claims to have knowledge of the search engine optimization can bring a negative impact to the website. SEO requires basic knowledge of a website's META tags, finding out keywords people most likely to input into a search engine, an ability to learn which keywords and key-phrases to focus on for the website and the ability to incorporate those keywords into content rich and informative articles.
The success of the website is largely depending on the search engine optimization and if anyone wants to be found over internet then SEO is one of the most important things and at the moment is most effective form of internet marketing. To be listed on the top of search engine result list, your SEO should start from the design and development of the webpage itself and after that it is a never ending process in search of perfection and more and more web hits. SEO is very much important and surviving strategy if you plan to make money from people visiting your site directly by selling them something, or indirectly by display and click through advertisement or if you have to justify the cost of expenditure in developing any kind of websites.

How to Cite this Article?
APA Citation, 7th Ed.:  Barman, B. (2020). A comprehensive book on Library and Information Science. New Publications.
Chicago 16th Ed.:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. Guwahati: New Publications, 2020.
MLA Citation 8th Ed:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. New Publications, 2020.

Badan BarmanDr. Badan Barman at present working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, Gauhati University, Guwahati-781014, Assam, India. He is the creator of the LIS Links ( - India’s most popular social networking website for Library and Information Science professionals. He also created the Open Access Journals Search Engine (OAJSE) (, UGC NET Guide (, Assam Archive ( and LIS Study ( website.

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