What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization Explained

If you currently own or manage a Website of any kind, or you're thinking of launching one, you may have heard the term "SEO."  It's used a lot in conjunction with running a Website.  But what does it mean, exactly, and why is it relevant to owning a Website?

This guide will provide a simple, no-frills, non-technical explanation of "SEO."  It will also show you why it's not only relevant, but it's also crucial to owning and maintaining a Website of any kind. 

What Makes a Search Engine-Friendly Web Page?

Optimizing Your Website

"SEO" is an acronym that stands for "search engine optimization."  To understand what "search engine optimization" means, you must first have a basic understanding of what a search engine is and does.

You've likely used a search engine before, probably many times.  If so, you'll know that search engines such as Google, Mozilla Firefox, Bing and Opera are useful for finding Websites and Web pages that contain information that you are specifically interested in.

In order to find that information, you enter words (also known as "keywords" or "search terms") related to what you're looking for.  So, if you are looking for information about how to sort laundry, you might use "keywords" like:

* "How to sort laundry"

* "Sorting laundry"

* "Laundry sorting"

* "Sort laundry" 

You would type those keywords into the "search field" on the search engine's home page.  (The "search field" is usually just a small box.)  The search engine then looks through all of its files, pulling out Web pages with the words that you typed in to that little box.  It then displays them.  This is called a "search engine return."

More often than not, a return lists hundreds or even thousands of Web pages.  The order in which returns are listed is not accidental.  A search engine will list them for you in order of relevance.  In other words, it decides how relevant a particular Web page is to the keywords you've used.  The ones it thinks are most relevant will be listed first, second, third and so on.  The best results are almost always the URLs (an URL represents an individual Web page) on the first page of returns  (the top 10 or so).


What Optimization Means to You

How to be SEO Friendly

So how does a search engine decide which Web pages (or "URLs") are the most relevant to a particular keyword?  A search engine is really just a complicated series of algorithms.  It uses these algorithms to determine what a Web page is about.  Once it does, it "indexes" the page under words that are relevant to the page's content.

Just think of it as a big drawer full of files.  The tab of each file is labeled with a keyword.  Inside of that file are all of the Web pages that contain text/content that relate to that keyword.  There are literally billions of these files within the servers of each search engine on the Internet, each labeled with every word or phrase imaginable.  

Now, think again about the last time you used a search engine to search for something.  Think about the pages (URLs) that came up in the return.  How many of them did you actually visit?  Chances are strong that you only clicked on the first, second or third one.  Perhaps you clicked on the 5th or 6th one.  But I bet you didn't go past the first page of results, right?

If YOU own a Website, then you want to make sure that YOUR Website lands within those first three to five returns on the first page.  Otherwise, search engine users will likely never access your site using a search engine.  This could spell doom for your site, especially if you rely on Web sales as part of your business.  The process of producing pages on your site that are most likely to get you one of those top rankings is what search engine optimization is all about.

Six Important Elements of Search Engine Optimization

What Makes a Search Engine-Friendly Web Page?

In order for a Web page to be search engine "optimized," it must have these six things:

1) Text on each of its pages that has a keyword content of 1.5 to 3 percent.  In other words, your keywords should make up no more than 3 percent of the total word count of the text, and no less than 1.5 percent.

2) Keywords that are located in strategic places throughout the text on each Web page.

3) Title and header tags.

4) Internal links.   (Some external links are okay too.)

5) Good meta tags.

6) Careful, prudent use of images (pictures & graphics).

This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a list of six of the most critical elements.