Wikipedia defines SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation as
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.
In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.
There are a number of assumptions implicit in an SEO marketing strategy not least that:-
1. Most potential customers coming onto the internet to search a topic will use a search engine, Google, Bing etc to find relevant sites;
2. That most searches will come up with millions of ‘hits’;
3. That most searches will go no further than page one, or possibly two or three of the search results.
These are not unreasonable assumptions in the first place.
The Search Engines use ‘bots’ to wade through the millions of sites that make up the web and attempt to rank them, one against the others to decide which to present on page one, two etc of the search results for any particular ‘keyword’ or phrase.
In the simplest of terms SEO consists of On Page and Off Page elements.
On page optimisation involves designing your page to be as attractive as possible to the Bots and to be strictly relevant to the keywords ascribed to the page. This has become less relevant as the Bots get more sophisticated and in any case over-zealous pursuit of this as an end has resulted in keyword stuffing which made the text difficult to follow.
Nowadays, and as a starting point for your On Page SEO, it is better to focus on the quality of your content and its relevance to ‘long tail’ keyword phases rather than individual keywords.
As an example consider the following keyword and key-phrase searches on Google and hit rates:
1. Television: 273 million
2. ‘Flat Screen Television’: 36.6 million
3. ‘Flat Screen Television Sales in Leamington Spa’: 449,000.
The Bots are looking for quality in a page so you must be careful to avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes and to ensure that quotations are linked back to source, and that all images have ‘alt’ statements etc.
Off page SEO homes in on the Bot’s use of other sites as a source of information on the quality and relevance of your site. A site that rates your site highly is likely to link to it as a source of quality information. As an example the quotation that introducing this article is linked back (on our site) to the source page on Wikipedia providing them with an in-bound link.