The Basics of Search Engine Optimization

SEO BasicsYou’ve probably heard the phrase Search Engine Optimization, or its abbreviated form SEO, in many places you go online. You may also have picked up that it is considered one of the most important topics that you need to understand if you are to make your websites stand out from the crowd. That much is true, and if you want to make your business more visible online, you need to know how SEO works. But what exactly is it, and how can you go about using it to your advantage?

What is SEO?

Put simply, SEO is the art of crafting your online publications so as to maximize your visibility when people search for words and phrases that have a connection with products and services you offer. The majority of internet users who are looking for a person or firm to do a particular job will use a search engine to assist them in finding one. Statistics show that most internet users will not look beyond the first page of search results, and often they will not even look as far as the bottom of that – so it’s crucial to get your site ranked highly.

What do you need to know?

Although there are many search engines, there is one site you absolutely must rank high with, and that is Google, whose PageRank measure is considered the most powerful and accurate assessment of a site’s value. Because Google has by far the largest share of the search engine market, if your company does not show well in its results, you will lose a lot of business that you could otherwise be winning. Google is so important that – except in a few very specialized fields – there is no point in optimizing for other search engines and ignoring Google. You can’t afford to do that.

How can you use SEO?

The best way to get a good Google PageRank is to produce a site which has a high level of relevant information. In particular, you should make sure that key phrases associated with your business are used liberally, although not so much that they begin to look unnatural. For example, a budget travel agency’s site might include phrases such as “discount vacation deals” and “best value on short breaks”. It’s also a good idea to use secondary keywords – those which support the central phrases. Using the travel agency example again, those might include things potential vacationers will be thinking about, such as “great deals on travel insurance” and “car rental at airports.”

What should you avoid?

In recent years, the algorithms Google uses to determine PageRank have progressively increased the penalties for sites that use so-called “black hat” methods of SEO. These include chunks of text which simply repeat a key phrase many times over, misleading descriptions in the site’s HTML tags, and – since the most recent round of changes – paid link exchanges. All of these practices are likely to make your site’s search engine visibility worse rather than better. Keep to “white hat” methods such as those outlined above, and you should find that your business becomes more visible – and therefore more profitable.

The author is an experienced expert in the field of SEO, having produced a range of popular publications for http://www.make-a-web-site.com, and uses this wide knowledge to write extensively on the subject.