An Introduction to SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can play a significant role in the success (or failure) of a particular organization. It is therefore no surprise that the market for SEO services has developed into a huge multi-billion dollar a year industry.
Yet, SEO is still seen as a mystery to many organizations and often applied as an afterthought in their overall marketing strategies. These companies normally employ short-term, set and forget actions in the hope of attaining quick results.
In contrast, teams that are successful in SEO have an almost fanatical approach to its application, measure performance extensively, adapt constantly to industry changes and take a strategic longer term approach.
SEO in context
The ultimate goal of SEO is to increase the level of visitors and traffic to a particular website from organic (i.e. unpaid) search engine results. The rationale for this is simple. More visitors translate into greater opportunities for promotion and potential sales.
The application of SEO therefore centers on what practices, processes and methodologies affect organic search engine results and how these consequently lead to an increase in visitors to a specific website.
Thus, in order to understand SEO you must also understand how search engines operate and what influences user choices on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
The role of Search Engines
The latest figures from Netcraft indicate that there were approximately 634 million websites on the internet as at December 2012 (Source: http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2012/12/04/december-2012-web-server-survey.html). Many of these will not see the light of day or alternatively will have extremely low traffic volumes. The reason…they simply won’t be found.
Search engines (such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex etc.) are still the main tool used by internet users to find information and websites. They are invaluable in rapidly displaying relevant web pages based on the words or phrases a user is searching for.
However, with so many websites, webpages and information contained on the internet, search engines must make smart choices about which options to display to a user and in what order or rank they should appear. If a user searches on ‘local newspapers’ they do not want to see the top 10 results being for ‘foreign car dealers’.
The algorithms that search engines use to rank websites based on particular keywords entered by a user are a closely guarded secret. According to Google they use over 200 factors to deliver the most relevant results in response to a user search.
In addition, search engines are constantly tweaking and enhancing their algorithms to circumvent Black Hat practices while providing more relevant search results.
SEO is a huge topic
Every day more SEO tips, tricks and expert advice articles are added to the web. According to digital marketing agency Blue Caribu, the term “SEO” is searched on Google 3.5 times every second (Source: http://www.bluecaribu.com/seo-industry).
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Bing Source: http://www.bing.com
Effective SEO practices are not easy and are becoming increasingly more complex. It takes a lot of time and commitment to get it right. However, by reading and keeping up with SEO trends anyone can understand and begin to apply basic SEO principles.
P.S. Any SEO practices that claim instantaneous or quick results should be viewed with extreme caution.