Search engine optimization is the process of attempting to gain a higher volume or quality of traffic from search engines to a website.
It is a very broad and complex topic of discussion when there is much debate over what's "best", due to only the search engines really knowing (As they are the only ones who poses the search engine algorithm that determines how well a page ranks).
Another reason for debate is that no 2 search engines will have the same ranking algorythm, so what may get you to number 1 in 1 search engine, might only get you to number 10 in another.
One of the main goals of any search engine optimization strategy, is to get a website to the number 1 spot for a search term, or many search terms. Obviously you can only have 1 page in the number 1 spot, so you first need to decide which page that will be (Assuming you already have a page with relevant content you feel is worthy of the number 1 spot).
I'll cover the specifics of what elements will contribute to helping you get a page to the number 1 spot in the search engines in another article.
An area that can cause a lot of problems for many, is deciding which search engine optimization strategies they should employ.
- White hat: Generally considered to be completely harmless and safe to use to help you gain ranks
- Grey hat: The mid point between white hat and black hat seo techniques. Attempting anything in this category could potentially be risky and may get your site penalized if caught by the search engines
- Black hat: Using these techniques will likely get your website black listed as you're obviously making an attempt to "game" the search engines by fooling them in a way as to provide the search engine spider with 1 set of content, and then providing the human visitor with something completely different.
Sometimes the difference between grey hat and black hat techniques can be a very fine line. I always recommend white hat search engine optimization techniques, as they're safe and are probably in the best interests of your website visitors, resulting in higher quality content.
If you're fortunate enough to have temporarily tricked the search engines for your particular strategy, you can bet that soon enough it will come back to haunt you. All it takes is for a few people to complain to the search engine, that your page doesn't deserve to be in the position it's in, for it to be flagged, and when a page is flagged, there's a chance that if enough people complain, some search engine quality control staff members will investigate your website to see if the claims are true, and you can guarantee that you wont be able to fool them.
The main focus you should have, is to create high quality content for the human visitor, then adjust that content to focus on the keywords you would like to rank for.
You should also be realistic. There's no point in trying to rank for the keyword “business” for example, it's a 1 word key phrase that is so extremely competitive, you've got very little chance of making it to the number 1 spot. It's also a very unspecific keyword, so the traffic you'd likely get from it wont be of any real high quality.
Instead, try focusing on several multi keyword key phrases, this will make it much easier to get to that number 1 spot and also increase the quality of the traffic it brings.
Now that you know what search engine optimization is, you should also know why you should start doing it (Or want to learn how to do it more effectively).
In some separate articles I will discuss the on-page and off-page factors that can help or hinder your search engine optimization efforts.
By: Stephen Warren