Just what is SEO, Anyway?

If you’ve worked on a web-based business, you’ve surely heard the acronym SEO being bandied about. If you’re curious, you’ve entered the term in a search engine, and gotten hordes of results. If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably ignored the buzz, figuring if it’s really important, you’ll learn about it when you need it. Well, guess what? You need to know about it now, if you want to build a significant presence on the Web. SEO, or search engine optimization, is critical to getting traffic to your website, and traffic is the name of the game in internet business.

How Does a Search Engine Find the Answer to a Query?

When a user surfs the Web, he or she is looking for sites meeting certain criteria. If the user needs to buy something, he’s looking for a specific product at the best price. To generate a list of potential retailers, the user types the product name into the search engine’s input box and clicks the submit button. The search engine’s algorithms begin surfing through the web, looking at the metadata associated with each site and comparing it to the input criteria. Sites matching the criteria are put into a results set, and the search engine ranks the results, which are then returned to the user.

How Does a Search Engine Find a Matching Site?

Every web page, regardless of how it’s built, has metadata associated with it. Examples of metadata fields are page title, page description, or keywords. The page is built with this information added to it, and the search engine algorithms look for matches to the query in all the metadata fields. If it finds a hit, the page is added to the results set. Queries can return millions of hits; where your site will land depends on how the search engine ranks it.

What is meant by Page Rank?

Page ranking is the process by which a search engine determines where your site will end up in the result set. The engine finds your site based on your metadata, but it determines your ranking based off of link analysis. The search engine basically counts the number of links pointing to your page; this gives your page its rank. This is a very simplistic definition of page ranking; there are many papers on the subject available off the web.

The Rules of SEO

The rules initially defined for SEO were to define your primary keywords and then utilize them as much as was linguistically possible in the page title, the page description, and in the alt description for any images used on the page. These rules still apply, but search engines have evolved in their searching abilities; consequently, there are now new rules for SEO you should be aware of and using as you build your website. One rule of SEO that hasn’t changed is keeping the content of your site relevant. Outdated content and/or outmoded technology are prime ways you can lose in the SEO game. Keep your site up-to-date to stay relevant with SEO. To drive traffic to your site, you need to understand SEO and utilize it to your best advantage.