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SEO Basics

What is SEO anyway?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO for short) is a highly involved, somewhat lengthy, process designed to elevate an internet website’s major search engine ranking and/or positioning. The major search engines (Google, Microsoft Network (MSN), and Yahoo) make up greater than 70% of search traffic on the internet.  This is a common way for people to find others, information, companies, potential business partners, etc. by entering a “keyword” or search term.  Typically, the searcher will seek information on their keyword or search term and click on the top results.  Thus the higher a site ranks for a given keyword or search term, the better its chances of attracting more visitors to its site.

Why Should I Care about SEO?

If you run a business and have a web presence, don’t you want the most people possible knowing about that business?  Wouldn’t it benefit you if your website was able to bring you new leads or develop new customers every day, 24 hours per day?

According to Georgia Tech’s Graphics, Visualization, and Usability survey, 84.8% of Internet users use search engines to find websites.

Research has shown that nearly 95% of all search engine users rarely read past the first page of search results.  Because of that, it behooves you to have your website on the first page of search results for specific keywords and terms. A top ranking on Google, Yahoo and MSN alone will place your website in front of approximately 87% of all Internet users out there.

Search engine traffic will provide some of the most targeted visitors you can wish to attract, so it makes logical business sense to optimize for search engines before spending your entire marketing budget on paid advertising and offline media.

A Top 30 Search Engine listing can send TONS of visitors to your site. Keyword Search Engine Optimization (SEO) drives the search engines to your site.

As reported by IMT Strategies, search engines create more awareness about websites than all advertising combined. That includes banners, newspapers, television, and radio.

Can’t I just Pay for a High Ranking?

No!  Organic (or “free”) search listing rankings cannot be purchased. These are “earned” over time via links, content, keyword relevance, page and site descriptions, titles of pages, etc.   You can pay for clicks to your website based on specific terms or keywords however these are separate results from the free results people commonly click.

What is Pay Per Click?

Pay-per-click is a form of internet advertising where you pay a certain amount for each “click” or “hit” to your website as a result of a person searching for a certain keyword or phrase.

What is Click Fraud?

Click fraud occurs when a person or automated computer script imitates a legitimate search for a keyword or phrase yet clicks on the pay-per-click result for the sole purpose of generating revenue for the search engine or affiliate.

What is a Linking Partner?

A linking partner is a website which provides a link to your site. Some will require a link on your site to theirs in return (a reciprocal link) while others will want to have a link on a third party’s site in exchange for the link to yours.  Reciprocal links aren’t as valuable as unique one way links but the more links you have pointing to your site (link popularity), the more “important” the search engines will consider your site.

More on Building Links

What is Page Rank?

Page Rank is Google’s proprietary algorithm for determining a site’s importance.  It’s expressed as a value from 1-10 with 10 being the most important and most desirable.  The algorithm was designed by Larry Page, Google’s co-founder.  Page Rank is affected by things such as the number of links pointing to your website, and the amount of unique and relevant content on your website.

What is a Keyword?

A keyword is a typical word or phrase you’d expect people to use when searching for your site.  That’s about as simple as we can explain it.

What is Keyword Density?

The number of keywords you use on a particular page in relation to the number of total words on that page.  The more keywords you have peppered throughout the page and site, the better your site may rank for that particular term.  You must be careful not to load a page with too many keywords, however—that is considered keyword “stuffing” or spamming and is frowned upon by the search engines.

What is a Sitemap?

A sitemap is basically an inventory listing of all of the pages on your site. It tells the search engines how to get around your site and also how many pages there are on your site.  It can be made visible to your visitors, but it doesn’t have to be.  Uploading an XML file directly to the search engines is a generally accepted best practice for optimizing your search engine rankings.

What is a Spider?

Search engines utilize small programs to surf and inventory sites all over the internet. These are called spiders, and they follow links from site to site to gather their inventory to report back to the search engine.  They are also referred to as crawlers or bots from time to time.

What is a Meta Tag?

A meta tag is an HTML piece of code which provides information about that particular page or document.  These don’t provide formatting information or any actionable code—they are there for the search engines to catalog your site and the pages contained on your site.

What is a Blog?

A blog (short for weblog) is a news or journal type of site which is frequently used more for opinionated type of entries and is typically updated frequently.  It is intended for general consumption but has become a valuable tool for all types of users to spread information and awareness of their websites.

Why Should I Write Articles for my Website?

Articles are a great way to increase the amount of unique content on your site as it pertains to the keywords you desire to rank well.  There are numerous websites that publish articles, and it is common practice for the authors to include a link in their by-line back to their website.  This creates an inbound link to the author’s website which in turn increases its popularity.  It’s also a good way to increase awareness aside from the linking benefits.

What are Directories?

Directories are databases containing listings to websites based on categories and sub-categories.  Many of the search engines access directories to crawl their links to learn of new sites.  Directories are an invaluable resource for search engines and can often serve to improve a site’s ranking depending upon how important the search engine weighs the directory in question.  Directories may provide a link to your site often without requiring a return or reciprocal link on your site.