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Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, depending on whatever time of day it is.

I do not know as I have the heavy drapes drawn across my windows to exclude the light and to deter unknown persons equipped with high-powered Zeiss binoculars. The drapes are lined. Even the lining is lined.

My name is – not important. It is a secret and you doubtless do not have the security clearance necessary for me to divulge it. And even if you do, you’d probably start getting familiar and before long be shortening my first name to Dick, or Dicky and causing Mater to suck her teeth in consternation at her little boy’s name being bastardised, even though I’m not, and I have the birth certificate to prove it. Blast it all Archimedes, I appear to have given away my first name! No matter, I shall continue.

I am here today to talk to you about ‘SEO’ . You may be asking yourself why I have been selected to do this? Well, for a start I am very clever. And for a second start, I was a member of SOE, and it may be that I end up lecturing you about SOE instead of SEO as, despite being very clever, I am also a bit old and easily confused.

As a member of SOE, (Special Operations Executive), I was involved in SER, (Sabotage, Espionage and Reconnaissance) and SAE, (The habit of enclosing a Stamped Addressed Envelope if you wished for a reply). The SOE was known as ‘The Baker Street Irregulars’ after the location of our H Headquarters Q, in Baker Street. Many’s the time I remember strolling to work whilst whistling a natty tune which seemed to go with the words, ‘Winding your way down on Baker Street….’ I always felt a slight ‘frisson’ imagining myself stepping into 221B for tea and muffins with the great man himself.

But I digress. I told you I would. So, the first thing to understand about SEO is what the letters ‘SEO’ stand for? A good question, and here’s a good answer. It’s a good answer because it’s correct, and the answer is: ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. The next thing to understand is what these three words have to do with you and your website. If you have a website you want people to find it, read it and use it, and that’s where SEO comes in. Its function is to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website. In a nutshell.

So, let’s suppose I’ve dropped my collection of cufflinks onto the lounge carpet. Very remiss and clumsy of me I know, but let’s also suppose I have donned my dress shirt and fastened the left sleeve with a rather nice gold, ruby inlay cufflink. Looking around for its pair I realise that it’s one of the many that reside on the lounge floor. Finding this particular cufflink will require a search. I need to become a Search Engine and naturally will require a snappy name such as ‘Boogle’, or ‘Bahoo’. Let’s go with ‘Boogle’. Meanwhile, on with the search. I know there are many ‘links’ to choose from but only one will suit my particular requirement. I need a ‘crawler’. In my case, i need to get on my hands and knees and crawl around the floor in search of the ‘missing link’. Naturally, being ex-SEO, I employ a system that ensures I leave no part of the carpet uncombed and therefore follow a grid-pattern starting in the far left corner of the room.

My carpet is now the Web and I am mimicking mechanisms known as bots or spiders. Certainly my bot is well profiled and I’m discovering lots of spiders. (I make a mental note to purchase a new vacuum cleaner.) During my crawl I am collecting information and building an index based on what I find. In this index is everything I’ve found on the carpet, which is now the Web. The index is quite extensive and obviously a lot of the items are of no interest to me at all, e.g., 26 paper clips, 4 fur-balls from the cat, a threepenny bit and a sticky coconut macaroon. Included in the index however are the cufflinks that prompted my original search. Boogle has returned a list of carpet Web results. It is now using an algorithm, utilising additional information it knows about the user, i.e., yours truly, to return results that are directly catered to my interests. Ergo, it has placed the gold cufflink with the ruby inlay at the top of the list.

Those of you who don’t know what an algorithm is or want to remain blissfully ignorant of what an algorithm is, turn away now!

An algorithm is a procedure based on a sequence of specified actions in order to solve a problem. For instance, I have written a personal algorithm for getting dressed in the morning.

This algorithm specifies a set of instructions to follow which tells me which item of clothing to put on and in which order. I have a bug in the algorithm at the moment which would explain why I’m wearing my underpants on top of my trousers, but I’m going to iron that out, after I take them off, obviously!

Apps also use algorithms to predict the probability that if you are fond of one particular thing, then you will like another. For instance, if I were to invite you round for an evening of listening to Chopin’s Nocturnes, then I could be pretty sure you’d probably want to come round for an evening of listening to Rachmaninov’s Nocturnes also, especially if I threw in a few coconut macaroons as an entree!

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m coming to the end of this, and if I carry on much longer I’ll come to the end of my life! So, to sum up. Make websites that search engines can crawl easily. Don’t clutter your carpet with too many chaise longues, bureau’s, lamp stands or fire screens. Great content is one of the most important elements for SEO, so be careful about mixing your Ikea bedroom with your Edwardian withdrawing room. If you run a carpet shop be sure to mention the word ‘carpet’ or ‘axminster’ otherwise Boogle’s algorythm may not consider you an expert on the subject.

Right, enough’s enough, and I’ve definitely had enough! Now what did I do with that ruby cufflink?!