Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the process of modifying a website to make it “search engine friendly” with the objective of driving as much traffic to the website as possible. To do it properly you would have to have an excellent understanding of how search engines work and also to be aware of what search terms people are using to search for information that is relevant to a particular website. The website may have to be improved and the content edited to be more relevant and to give it the best chance of appearing on any search listings.
For example, if an Internet user conducts a search on an engine such as Google, Yahoo or MSN or one of the many hundreds of others, they will enter their search terms or keywords and a number of pages of URLs will be returned. If your site doesn’t come up in the first few pages using keywords appropriate for your business then the chances of getting traffic to your site in any sort of number diminishes significantly.
Ideally you want to appear as high on the search results as possible and this is where search engine optimisation comes in. SEO is often done in conjunction with Pay per Click or PPC advertising in order to drive traffic to a site.
Getting ranked – how it used to be
In the early days on the Internet, webmasters created websites and submitted the URLs to various search engines so that their sites would be able to appear on search listings. The search engine spiders would then “crawl” through the sites extracting any links and indexing these too.
Webmasters keen to see their sites high on search listings soon started manipulating their websites to get the best results. For example, search algorithms using Meta tags were used by search engines for rankings but these were not successful at bringing up relevant websites in internet searches mainly because the system relied a lot on information that was provided by the website owner or webmaster such as the various Meta tags or keywords.
There was nothing to stop a webmaster from submitting Meta tags that had nothing at all to do with the actual content of their website and this resulted in a lot of websites appearing in search listings that were completely irrelevant. Search Engines soon caught on to this and other dodgy practices and changed their algorithms and their practices.
SEO and how it is today
These days search engine optimisation is a much more complicated process and search engines are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be. Google for example ranks its sites based on several hundred different factors and we don’t know what algorithms are used to rank the pages.
A professional Search Engine Optimizer will be able to carry out the task of optimising your website for the search engines in order to ensure your website achieves a higher rank in Internet searches. They will have an understanding of what works and what doesn’t, what is ethical and what is not. They will know how the search engines operate, what the search engines are looking for and how to package everything together to give you the best results possible.