First, you must understand that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation … which means you optimize your website and content so that it ranks high in the major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. This optimisation can take the form of following a strict formula or layout of your website content with the proper meta tags, keyword density, linking structures and so on. It can also mean off-site optimization with link building, right anchor text, keyword positioning and so on.
SEO has become a major industry simply because getting top rankings for lucrative keywords can mean significant revenue for companies or individuals. We are talking about billions, if not trillions of pounds, euros, dollars etc. exchanging hands with the sale of products, services and business transactions. Get a top ranking for your chosen keyword phrase and it means a flood of targeted prospects/buyers coming to your website or company, ready to do business.
Now, because there is so much money involved, a whole SEO industry has sprung up with consultants, experts and companies offering their services to get you or your company into those top rankings in the search engines. These SEO services could include link building, link buying, social media positioning, onpage optimisation, pay-per-click management… all with the goal of bringing targeted customers to your site or business.
White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
You may also have heard other webmasters talking about White Hat SEO as opposed to Black Hat SEO. And as the names suggest, White Hat is strictly above board or ‘proper’ site optimisation, while Black hat is using underhand devious cloaking methods and systems to raise your rankings. For obvious reasons, always go the White Hat route and you will feel better knowing you’re doing the right thing in regards to your site.
Perhaps the next concept or term you should know is Algorithm. Search engines create complicated algorithms or lists of rules which determine not only how web pages are listed but also which web pages are listed first in their index or SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). These rules or ranking factors are used by SEO experts and webmasters to help move their keyword rankings up in the search engines. You open a web browser, go to a search engine such as Google, type in a search query for “graphic design in west sussex” and the search engine returns a list of organic results along with a list of paid listings. Now, getting to that top spot means a lot of potential traffic/clients would be coming your way. This is just one example, but most people quickly realize how lucrative getting to those top spots is for any individual or company. They also realize that understanding how the search engine algorithms work and how to manipulate them is a valuable skill for which many clients will pay handsomely to have on their side. This SEO industry also consists of SEO software which helps webmasters/marketers get their sites into the top positions in the search engines.
Most SEO experts break up your search engine optimisation into TWO TYPES: On-Page and Off-Page Optimization
On-Page Optimisation means getting right all the factors which influence your rankings in the search engines. Keep in mind, the whole web is “keyword based and keyword driven” which means you must optimize your domain and site for your chosen keywords. Your main keyword should be in your Domain Name, in the title of the page, in the main heading for that page, in the URL and it should appear (with variations) throughout the page. Try to keep the keyword density to around 2%-5%, although like many things to do with SEO – there are varying opinions on the exact percentage. But what most experts agree on: the layout or structure of your web site or pages must be easily reached not only by your visitors but also by the search engine spiders which crawl your site. Keep it simple – have no links more than three clicks away from your homepage. Many webmasters include a link back to their homepage on EVERY page of their sites.
Off-Page Optimisation means building backlinks flowing back to your web site or web pages. Regardless of what anyone will tell you, getting quality keyworded links from other high quality keyword related sites is the most important factor in achieving top rankings in the search engines. So link building should be a major part of your SEO efforts and something which will bring the fastest results. These links must appear natural and organic so varying the anchor text (underlined part) in your links is important. Also, the web is quickly changing, links from social media sites such as FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter are becoming more helpful in getting top rankings. So too, are links from blogs especially those from Blogger and WordPress because these are optimized for keywords. Don’t forget other media forms such as videos since links from sites such as YouTube can also boost your rankings.