The world of search engine optimization (SEO) is in an uproar these days. If you have an Internet-based business, you need to know what’s going on – and how you can take advantage of it.

As you know, SEO is all about getting your site listed in the search engines’ top results. The higher up in the results you rank, the better chance you have of capturing your prospective customer’s attention. Get them to click on your link, and you are on your way to making a sale.

So knowing how to get those coveted high rankings is critical to the success of your Internet business.

The way that search engines currently spider, rate, and index a website depend on various factors, including link popularity, content, site structure, and a mixture of other variables. All of these can be manipulated by most webmasters and SEO specialists.

But this could be changing very soon!

The word on the Net is that search engines are changing the way they spider and index websites to help them serve better results to their search audience. They are incorporating new ranking algorithms that will take into consideration input that is submitted by “real people” (as opposed to primarily software calculations).

Google (and others) will give higher priority to sites that Web surfers vote for. The way a Web surfer “votes” for a website will be completely transparent. It will not be something that can be easily manipulated by webmasters and SEO specialists.

If this happens, we will see an entirely different pattern emerge – and it will affect thousands of websites across the Net. Many that were once showing up in the top 10 results will no longer be there. New sites (rated using the latest algorithms) will take their place.

Google currently asks Web surfers (normally users that are logged into their Google account) to move their search results around, based on the surfer’s own idea of how important each one is. If they like a certain page in the search results, they can move it higher on the list so that anytime they search for the same keyword(s) they will be presented with their own personalized set of results.

Google claims that this data is not currently calculated in their existing algorithms, but I seriously doubt that. Search engines are constantly looking to improve their search results. By using actual feedback provided by their users, they can get a better understanding of what Web surfers consider relevant.

So that’s the main thing that I think will make a difference in the way results are ranked in the future: Web users will have more influence. In addition, I believe the search engines will be spidering online videos, article comments, and social media.

Having videos on your website helps your SEO now. (Webmasters love to link to good videos.) But if a search engine can actually read the contents of a video, you might have to give more serious consideration to the content of the videos on your site than you have in the past.

According to many SEO analysts, search engines will be looking at criteria like these when scoring your Web pages:

• How often have Web surfers moved (voted) your listing to the top of the results?

• What type of searches have those users performed in the past?

• How many times has your page been bookmarked (voted for) on a major social networking site (i.e., Digg.com, LinkedIn.com, and StumbleUpon.com)?

• How many other sites are talking about your site?

• Does your Web page have video? If so, how long do people watch it?

• How often do website visitors return to your page?

• How many comments does your page have on it? (More people posting comments on your page means more popularity, as far as search engines are concerned.)

What YOU Can Do About the “New” Ranking Rules

The new search engine ranking methods are sure to bring a lot of changes to the world of search engine optimization. But don’t worry. You won’t have to learn a bunch of new SEO tactics. One thing will always hold true: CONTENT IS KING.

Plain and simple, if you have good Web content, surfers will bookmark it, comment on it, and talk about it on other websites. Whether you are offering useful videos or informative articles, people appreciate high-quality content. And search engines will take notice. This will continue to boost your SEO efforts more than anything else.

With that said, keep in mind that no one knows for sure what the search engines are going to do. They guard their secrets like the CIA guards theirs. We can only make an educated guess as to what the future of SEO holds, and try to keep on top of the latest changes.

One more thing. Keep in mind that even a top ranking on Google won’t mean a thing for your business unless you can turn the resulting traffic into paying customers. Read Alexis Siemon’s article “What’s More Important Than Your Search Engine Ranking?” to find out exactly how to measure the efficacy of your search engine optimization efforts.

[Ed. Note: Running a successful online business takes more than just throwing up a website – but it doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing. Get a step-by-step guide to search engine optimization, link building, and more as a member of ETR’s Internet Money Club. Spaces are limited, so find out now if there are any spots left for the “Class” of 2009.]

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edwin huertasEdwin Huertas has been developing and marketing Websites since 1994 as well as testing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) methodologies for many years. He has helped many medium- to large-sized companies around the globe by improving their Web marketing efforts.

Edwin’s background in programming has allowed him to approach Search Engine Optimization from a developer’s perspective. Studying search engines’ algorithms and patterns in order to develop successful SEO campaigns has helped him generate millions in revenue for his clients and employers.

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