Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is essentially part art and part science. Let me give you my definition of it and a brief description of how it’s done rather than regurgitating or simply posting someone else’s definition.
Before I go into my definition, I want to make sure that I mention what the search engine’s job is. The search engine’s job is to find the content that most closely matches and is most relevant to what the person sitting at the computer is searching is looking for.
How search engines work, is a topic for another day, but suffice it to say that people are more likely to use one that delivers relevant results over one that delivers that just delivers results. Make sense?
To me, in a nutshell, SEO is making sure that your website or web pages, match as closely as possible what the prospects in your industry/market/niche are searching for whenever your prospect goes to a search engine. The goal is to have your website show up as high as possible in the search engine results pages, aka SERPs for your given term.
Who does this kind of work?
An online marketing agency will do this kind of work for you. Some agencies prefer to call themselves Search Engine Optimization firms, but it’s all essentially the same thing.
How is it done?
Step 1 is to perform something called “keyword research.” What keyword research is, is finding out what words people are typing into search engines whenever they perform a given search.
Google, Bing, Yahoo! search engines among others all gather and release this keyword data in aggregate. We can’t tell what you typed in, but we call tell that the majority of people looking for X typed in Y keyword when performing their search.
The next step then is to optimize your site for the keywords that people are typing in when they are looking for something related to what you do. This is called “on-site optimization” because it’s performed on your site.
What else do you do with the keywords you find?
The next step your online marketing agency will do is to go “off-site” and optimize the links pointing back to your website. If no links are pointing back to your site, the search engines are not likely to find you anytime soon. Additionally, the links pointing back to your site should also contain your keywords to help the search engines find you.
The currency of the web are things called “inbound links” or IBL. No, not irritable bowel syndrome, although getting proper inbound links has given indigestion to many an SEO specialist, but I digress.
The best links, come from “reputable” referring pages, with a lot of authority, from websites in “good neighborhoods” and contain your keyword in the link text. The worst kind of link comes from a spammy website, hosted with a bunch of other spammy websites, with spammy links pointing back to your site.
How fast does it work?
Not very fast. Sometimes, you can significantly increase your rankings with some very minor tweaks in a short period. However, most sustainable results take time, especially if you’re in a crowded niche or if your site is new or if your site had been spamming before.
If you need traffic now, “pay per click” (PPC) advertising may be an option for you, but SEO principles will still govern over your PPC strategies.