SEO 101

What is SEO?

SEO Defined

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an activity that makes websites easier to find through search engines.

By making a website easier to find, the webmaster or website owner will hopefully increase traffic to the site. And when traffic increases, revenue should also increase.

If you're trying to sell products or services on your website, knowledge of SEO is essential.

SEO relates primarily to gaining traffic through search engines like Google, Yahoo! or AltaVista. This happens when someone enters a word or a phrase into a search engine and is then returned a list of links to click on. Visitors who find their way to a site this way are called "natural search" visitors.

Optimization is the act of changing the text on your site, as well as performing many other off-site activities, in order to get better results and appear higher in search engines when people search for specific terms.

SEO and the Search Engines

In order to implement effective SEO strategies for your website, you'll need a basic understanding of how search engines work and why they rank results the way they do. In SEO, most of what you're doing is editing the HTML code and the text content of your site to improve its results in the search engines. You have to know what those engines are looking at in order to make effective changes.

A term you'll often hear when learning about SEO is an algorithm. Algorithms are formulas that search engines use to determine which results they'll display, and in which order, after someone searches for a particular keyword or phrase.

History of Search Engines

The first web search engines appeared in 1993. And the first engine to gain widespread acceptance was AltaVista in 1995. Other search engines, such as Magellan, Excite, Infoseek, Inktomi, and Northern Light appeared around this time.

However, the history of search engines as we know them today was redefined by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. While at Stanford University, these two utilized an algorithm called PageRank to create search engines that listed rankings based not only on keywords, as earlier engines had done, but also on the quality and strength of inbound links.

In 1998, Page and Brin founded Google, which has become the measuring stick against which all other search engines are now held up. This led to the revolution of SEO, requiring not only on-page efforts like optimizing the keywords on the page, but also requiring a strong off-page element of link building in order to do well in the search engines.

On-Page and Off-Page SEO Essentially, there are two different kinds of SEO. On-page SEO refers to alterations you make to your actual website, while off-page SEO refers to things you try to accomplish on other sites across the web.

One of the most important realities you'll need to understand with SEO is that there isn't one “kind” of SEO that's any better than the other. This means you'll have to devote equal attention to both the on- and off-page elements in order to get your site to perform as well as possible.

On-page optimization includes anything you can change within your own page. Think about things like your headers, your body text, the links on your own page, and especially the title, meta, and H1 (etc.) tags. Other things like keyword density are also important on-page considerations.

Links that point to any of your pages are the off-page considerations. Remember, it isn't just getting a lot of links that enables your site to get a better PageRank. You also have to consider things like anchor text in order to get your site to perform well, and you have to think about the quality of those incoming links. The most important lesson that you can learn about off-page optimization is that quality counts for more than quality. Getting a ton of links from sites that have no value will not be nearly as beneficial for your site as getting a lot fewer links from authority sites that are given high value in the eyes of the search engines.

The authority of a site is based on the structure of the links coming into it, and has usually been online for a long time. They have built up a strong link structure with other similarly well-established and well-linked sites, and getting links from sites like these will greatly improve your off-site SEO.

In order for these links to count for as much as possible, you also want them to be similar in topic or subject in some way to your site. Try to build links from authority sites that have similar keywords to your own. An important thing to remember about SEO is that while most people concentrate on Google, Yahoo! and MSN are still valuable sources of search traffic as well. The algorithms used on those sites are slightly different, so it pays also to do your research into the methods used by those sites to rank pages.

SEO and Keywords

Whenever you go to a search engine, you'll see the text box where visitors enter a word or phrase in order to find what they're looking for online. The words they place in this box are known as keywords.

You should choose between three and five keywords for each of your pages. These keywords can be selected in a variety of ways.

You want keywords that relate to the content of your site, but you also want to be sure that they're words for which people are actually searching. Google offers a variety of tools to investigate how often certain keywords are searched.

Once you've selected your keywords, you'll have to use them in a variety of ways. You'll want to optimize your own site to use those keywords in important places like the title tag, the headings, and the body of the text.

It is also important to realize the value of keywords in link-building strategies. Anchor text consists of the words made into a link that links out to another page or site. You want to build links in which you use your keywords as your anchor text, as this will help your off-site optimization efforts better than simply building random links.

Black Hat SEO

When you're learning about SEO, you'll frequently encounter the term “black hat.” It's important to understand what this is, and what it means.

We'll go into more detail regarding black hat SEO in a later screen, but basically, black hat is SEO that violates either posted rules and regulations or unwritten online ethics, and that tries to manipulate the search engines artificially in order to get their sites to rank higher.

Still, this is something which many people try and, in the end, lose out.

You see, any tactics that violate the terms of service of the search engines will eventually be found out. If the search engines find foul play, the people using unfavorable tactics will be penalized in the rankings or even removed from the index altogether.

Could not find stored procedure 'SeoSpyReportLog.dbo.i_cmsUrlLog'.