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So You Want to Know What the Heck SEO Is?

The word SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. What is that? It is a term used to describe how to design web pages for the highest possible placement in search engine results pages. SEO began in the 90’s as more and more people started using the Internet mostly just to share information. When businesses realized the potential of this new market, they hired analysts to help them improve visibility on the Web. These technical analysts became SEO experts and search engine optimization was born.

Truly organic SEO relates to the website code and pages within the site. It has nothing to do with link development (which we’ll discuss later) or any other type of external Internet marketing. There are literally dozens of of SEO do’s and don’ts you should be aware of when designing your website. Understanding the answer to the question what is SEO? is fundamental to effectivenss of your ranking in the search results.

How is SEO Different From SEM?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) involves any method of marketing through one or more search engines (such as Google or Yahoo). The three most common methods of SEM are Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Link Development, and Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC). PPC involves bidding with other businesses for ad placement typically in the “Sponsored Results” area of the search results page.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising in my opinion is too costly with too little ROI to make the investment worth the cost. Of course, you may have different results than I have had. My experience has shown that most people using search engines do so specifically for information, not to make a purchase. So you’re basically paying for PPC assuming that your site will intice many non-impulse searchers to buy. With PPC, you also have to worry about something called “click fraud”, which is a topic all of its own. The above doesn’t directly relate to the question what is SEO, but it can indirectly affect your campaign budget.

SEO beats PPC in organic search queries because many users ignore the “Sponsored Results”. However, SEO loses to PPC when Google AdSense subscribers install Google’s “Content for Search” code on their websites. In other words, sponsored search results appear on several thousand independent websites outside of the Google websphere.

Link Development is also an SEM strategy because it involves working outside of the website being marketed, ultimately to improve the number of incoming hyperlinks. Many search engines (including Google), weigh the number of quality incoming links as a determining factor for positioning in the search results. Good incoming links are a commodity these days. SEO experts and website owners are beginning to understand and capitalize on having high PageRank by selling outgoing links from their websites. No more link to me and I’ll link to you, those days are over thanks to search engines like Google. What is SEO in terms of link development? Expensive.

Like Taking the Frosting Out of the Oreo

When optimizing a webpage, you’ll feel as though you are stripping out the guts of your code and leaving only text, images, and media. The great thing about JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is that you can actually create a separate file to house source code that you don’t want factored into your site’s relavance. You simply “Disallow” the webcrawlers to search specific files using a robots.txt file.

What is the SEO benefit of using CSS? Having a stylesheet to help define the formatting on your site, reduces the code and file size of a web page substancially. For example, instead of using a long font tag multiple times on a page, you can create a CLASS, which when called for is less than half the length of a font tag. In fact, you can actually redefine HTML tags so that your output looks appealing and follows a global theme throughout the website.

But what is SEO in regards to what is actually on the page? In other words, what’s left after we’ve scraped the frosting from our virtual Oreo via CSS? Here’s what’s left, the Title, META tags, image names, image ALT tags, LINKS, link title tags, headings, subheadings, paragraphs and lists. When used at appropriate keyword densities, all of these things define what SEO is better than anything else..


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