What Is Search Engine Optimization?

SEO or search engine optimization is all about getting a web site to show up higher in search results for search engines. Having your site show up higher in search results can mean a lot more traffic to your site; something every web site owner wants, especially if they have a product or service to sell.

There 2 general schools of search engine optimization – “White Hat” and “Black Hat”. “White Hat” SEO refers to all methods of promoting your web site that adheres to the search engine’s recommendations. “Black Hat” SEO is based on the belief that “the means justifies the end”. Anything goes with “Black Hat” SEO. You can expect all sorts of dirty tricks designed to fool the search engines that usually do not last very long once the search engines plug their loopholes and delete these offending web pages from their search engine index.

Why Search Engine Optimization Is Important?

Studies on the behaviour of internet users tell us this – We are not patient when we are searching for information on the internet. The click-through rate of web sites which come up in search results drops off dramatically by the second page of results. In fact, if a web page doesn’t show up on the first 2 pages of results, it is unlikely to receive a lot of traffic through that search engine. If your site is in this situation, you are definitely in need of SEO. By using SEO to get higher rankings, you will greatly increase traffic to your site, which in turn leads to more sales and revenue.

How Do Search Engines Rank Web Pages?

No one but the search engine companies really know how search engines rank web pages. Other than a select few search engine employees, probably most people in a search engine company don’t even have a clue how their search engine’s algorithm works. So-called SEO experts are merely speculating on how the search engines rank web pages by conducting a lot of research and testing. SEO techniques that work very well initially usually do not last long after more and more people abuse it. If you would like to keep up to date with the latest news about the top 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN Live Search), be sure to check out their blogs regularly as they tend to drop a lot of hints on what you should and should not do on your web sites.

From what we do know about SEO, the search engines rank web pages by looking at the keyword or keyword phrases used on web page, how well connected a particular web page is on the internet and who are its competing web pages. A well connected web page has many incoming links pointing to it from good and relevant web sites with similar content.

People type keywords into search engines when they are looking for information online. By incorporating these keywords and phrases into the content on your site, you will get a higher chance of ranking on results pages for searches which contain terms relevant to your web site. For instance, let’s say that your business sells flower pots. You will want to use the phrase “flower pots” throughout the content on your site. Other words and phrases you might want to use are related things like “flower seeds” and “soil”.

Keyword selection will make or break your web site’s traffic from the search engines. Select a popular keyword with a lot of web pages already competing for the top spot would be a lot harder than selecting keywords that are less popular with less competing web pages. It is unrealistic to expect your totally new web site to rank in the top 10 results if you use a very popular and competitive keyword for your web page. What some people try to do is to target the easier keywords first before tackling the harder keywords once their web site earns some “trust” from the search engines. The top ranking web sites in competitive markets did not get there in a day, it requires a lot of consistent hard work to get there.

For more information on how the search engines rank web pages, please refer to SEOMoz’s Search Engine Ranking Factors.

Is Search Engine Optimization Hard?

If your goal is to build a long-lasting real business on the internet, then educating yourself on SEO is a must. Check out some of these courses on search engine optimization to further your SEO education.

SEO is not rocket science but it does require a bit of knowledge of HTML and a lot of time and patience. You will need to work hard consistently on your web page promotion to see any decent results. Don’t expect miracles and don’t fall for “Black Hat” techniques like I did in the past – It is just not worth it.

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