What is SEO?
Search engine optimization or SEO in short, is a set of rules that can be followed by website (or blog) owners to optimize their websites for search engines and thus improve their search engine rankings.
In addition, it is a great way to increase the quality of their web sites by making them user- friendly, faster and easier to navigate.
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SEO can also be considered as a framework since the whole process has a number of rules (or guidelines), a number of stages and a set of controls.
Why is SEO important?
In today’s competitive market, SEO marketing is more important than ever. Search engines serve millions of users per day looking for answers to their questions or for solutions to their problems.
If you have a web site, blog or online store, SEO can help your business grow and meet the business objectives.
Search engine optimization is essential because:
The majority of search engines users are more likely to click on one of the top 5 suggestions in the results pages (SERPS), so to take advantage of this and gain visitors to your web site or customers to your online store you need to in the top positions.
SEO is not only about search engines but good SEO practices improve the user experience and usability of a web site.
Users trust search engines and having a presence in the top positions for the keywords the user is searching, increases the web site’s trust.
SEO is good for the social promotion of your web site. People who find your web site by searching Google or Yahoo are more likely to promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other social media channels.
SEO is important for the smooth running of a big web site. Web sites with more than one author can benefit from SEO in a direct and indirect way. Their direct benefit is increase in search engine traffic and their indirect benefit is having a common framework (checklists) to use before publishing content on the site.
SEO can put you ahead of the competition. If two web sites are selling the same thing, the search engine optimized web site is more likely to have more customers and make more sales.
An introduction to SEO for beginners
For beginners to SEO the above definition may sound complicated, in simpler terms Search Engine Optimization is a way to improve your website so that it will appear closer to the top positions in the search results of Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines.
When you perform a search on Google (or any other search engine) the order by which the returning results are displayed, is based on complex algorithms.
These algorithms take a number of factors into account to decide which web page should be shown in the first place, second place etc.
Optimizing your web site for search engines will give you an advantage over non-optimized sites and you increase your chances to rank higher.
What are the main stages of the Search Engine Optimization process?
As I mentioned above, SEO is not a static process but rather a framework with rules and processes. For simplicity though SEO can be broken down into 2 main stages:
On-site SEO: What rules to apply on your site to make it search engine friendly
Off-site SEO: How to promote your website or blog so that it can rank better in search results.
In my search engine optimization tips for beginners article I have explained with examples the 15 most important rules for on-site SEO.
These are simple tweaks you can apply to your web site and increase your search engine visibility. If followed correctly, these 15 SEO tips will also improve the usability and credibility of your website or blog.
In addition to the above guidelines, the structure of a web site is also very important for SEO purposes.
In my article: the importance of web site structure for an SEO optimized web site you can read about the essential components of an optimised web site. Which pages should not be missing from your web site, what is a high quality site and why the navigation and URL structure is vital for good SEO?
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If you seriously take into account these 2 factors i.e. web site structure and the seo tips, then that’s all you need to do to help search engines trust your web site.
There is no need to spend more time than needed with on-site SEO neither you should over optimize your website or blog because it can sometimes (under certain conditions) generate the opposite results.
Besides the changes you can do to your web site (on-site SEO) so that it ranks higher in the SERPs, the other way to improve your website’s ranking position is by using off-site SEO techniques.
Off-site SEO is generally known as link building but I prefer to use the term web site promotion since a proper way to promote a website involves much more methods and techniques than building links.
In general, search engines are trying to find the most important pages of the web and show those first when a user enters a search query.
One of the factors to determine the position a web page will appear in the results is the number of incoming links.
Incoming links are a signal of trust and depending from where the links are coming, they can greatly affect your ranking position (either positively if the links are coming from well-known and trusted sites or negatively if they are paid links, article directories, link farms etc.).
What can you do to get more links?
That’s a very good question and I am sure that if you search the Internet for that phrase you will get hundreds of different answers.
In my opinion, and this is what I will try to explain in this article, you should forget about building links and concentrate on creating good quality content for your web site.
Good content will get you natural links which in turn will give you good rankings and traffic.
If you try to buy links or get them the easy way (read this: Guest posting for links), you may have a temporary success and then see your web site disappearing from the top pages after the next Google update.
What is the difference of SEO and Internet marketing?
Some people often ask me “Is SEO the same as Internet Marketing?” The simplest answer I can give is that SEO is one of the tools available in your Internet Marketing arsenal.
It is not Internet Marketing as such but it can be part of your overall Internet Marketing campaign which normally includes other things like social media promotion, content strategy etc.
Good content is still the most important success factor with or without SEO
Before closing this introduction to search engine optimization you must have very clear in your mind that SEO cannot help you if you don’t have good content.
In other words if you try to SEO a website with not very good content your chances of succeeding (in the long term) are minimum.
On the other hand, a website with good content can do well with or without SEO. SEO will just give the web site an extra boost.
SEO is a must for every web property
To sum it up, Search engine optimization or SEO is a way to optimize your website so that search engines will understand it better and give you higher rankings.
It is important since a good SEO approach can drive more traffic to your website, blog or on-line store and gain more customers, make sales and fulfil your business purpose.