What is Search Engine Optimization?
(Click for Training Video on Driving Website Traffic with the Search Engine Optimization Triangle)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an Internet marketing process and strategy that focuses on making a website more friendly to search engines for the purpose of improving search rankings. Better search rankings can result in not only a higher quantity of traffic, but with good SEO, a better quality of traffic.
SEO facilitates the interaction of how search engines work with what people are actually searching for.
Optimizing a website involves editing the actual content as well as some of the HTML coding to make it as easy as possible for search engines to understand what a web page is about.
KEYWORDS are central to three important points that comprise SEO:
- Quality Content
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
“Content” refers to the words, photos, videos, audio, or any other material on your website.
“On-Page” SEO includes the points that are refined on every page of a website.
“Off-Page” SEO incorporates interaction with other pertinent websites, since links on other sites that point to pages on one’s own site, confirm the relevance on one’s site.
Professional consultants who offer SEO as a service may do so as part of a broader marketing campaign, or as a specialized service by itself.
Search engine optimization is somewhat of an art and science, since the search engines maintain secrecy about the exact calculations that are used to rank pages. And to make things more interesting, the calculations and rules the search engines use are subject to change.
Regardless, there are established industry best practices as well as ongoing research and testing by SEO consultants for the purpose of delivering the best results possible for their clients.
Black Hat SEO
There are also, so called “Black Hat” methods that degrade both the relevance of search results as well as the experience of search engine users.
Black hat SEO attempts to improve a website’s rankings by using tricks or attempting to deceive search engines, or by otherwise using tactics that are disapproved of by the search engines.
Search engines have been known to penalize black hat methods when they are discovered. The penalties can include reducing a site’s rankings or even removing the site from the search engine altogether. Savvy black hat practitioners would anticipate that their sites could become temporarily or permanently penalized and their clients may or may not be aware of the ramifications.
A good rule of thumb is that if an SEO consultant guarantees you top rankings, you would be wise to interview other SEO consultants.
White Hat SEO
White hat SEO techniques conform to the search engines’ guidelines, which are established to present search users a helpful experience, and do not include attempting to deceive search engines about the content of a site.
White hat SEO could be boiled down to the idea of creating valuable information for visitors (not specifically for search engines), and presenting that information in ways that are easily understood and recognized by the search engines.
Google Webmaster Guidelines
Here are Google’s guidelines for webmasters, with a focus on:
- Design and content guidelines
- Technical guidelines
- Quality guidelines
Click for search engine optimization tools.