SEO – Search Engine Optimization: What Is It?

1 comment

Posted on 1st August 2009 by Ben Krasner in Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization has become a hot topic for businesses, retailers, bloggers, news and media sites… pretty much you name the kind of site and there’s almost a palpable angst about SEO surrounding the organization or individuals behind it.  From what I am hearing from those sending this question my way is this angst comes from two angles: One is from sites that rank very well on search engines and don’t want that to change and the other is from sites who do not rank very well on search engines and want that to change.  Many times this is a direct competitor scenario where the site that ranks well has interests that line up against another site that does not rank well.  Both types of sites are looking to SEO to solve their problems because it is a popular topic and finally apparent to everyone – even those that have no idea what SEO means – that if you are are not on top of this game you could be in trouble.

What is SEO?  What is search engine optimization?

… and why did I just make that information a heading, rather than just a start of a new paragraph?   It’s all part of the same process by which any website owner goes about their tasks of building a site and putting content on the site so that the people that they want to view that content  can do so.  First off, let’s be overt and clear by pointing out that ‘SEO’ is just the acronym for search engine optimization.  If you already knew that, great!  But you’d be surprised at the number of people who think those are two separate entities.

SEO is simply anything that you do to a website (specifically individual pages of a website) that enables search engines to find, index, analyze and make those pages available to people searching for related content through the use of that search engine.  Without knowing it, anyone who has ever created a web page has been involved in SEO simply by creating that page and storing it on a server.  How so?  Because it’s on the internet and it has some content to it- even if it’s only pictures or numeric values.  A search engine can find it, just like any web browser can find it, which means it can be indexed and thus can be returned in a search result if someone is searching for similar content on that search engine.

Now, certain efforts make it easier for search engines to find that web page, analyze it and index it; those efforts are part of search engine optimization.  Other efforts make your content on your pages appear more relevant, either across a wider range of possible searches or within a narrower range of searches; those efforts are also part of search engine optimization.  You can also work on things that make specific parts of your content stand out from the rest – again, another part of SEO.  And perhaps the part of SEO website owners are most interested in are those efforts that specifically cause web pages within their sites to rank as more relevant to searches and so appear before other pages belonging to other websites in the Search Engine Result Pages (a.k.a. SERPs).  After all, the higher you appear in those results the more traffic gets to your website.

In the example above of any old Joe Smith creating a web page and uploading that content to a web server, I spoke about that act alone being relevant to the discussion about SEO.  It is… only, it’s really not at the same time.  Yes, a search engine can find that web page, index it and therefore make it available to browsers looking for that content.  However, just like anything else that nobody knows about, it is also possible that no search engines or web browsers find it and as a result that page never gets indexed and thus potentially never found by anyone searching for that content.  It is also possible that by the time a search engine does find it and indexes it the content is no longer being searched for by anyone, which effectively has the same effect as if it were never indexed at all.  Therefore when people talk about search engine optimization these days they are mostly referring to acts directly related to improving the ability for search engines and browsers to come across that content and, in a virtual sense, “spread the word” of that content being available and relevant to certain search queries performed at search engines.

Search engine optimization is a journey with successful reaching of business goals being the destination – even if that destination is only reached while another one is being created.  I hope you’ll find my articles on this subject interesting and informative, even if only to identify the goals you need to establish or the right questions to ask a company that you’ll hire for SEO consultation or projects as they are needed.

  1. Search Engine Optimization Step 1 – Use Google To Identify What You Have To Work With « Ben Krasner's Website says:

    [...] [...]

    1st August 2009 at 11:26 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.