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18 - Aug - 2010

SEO 101 – What The Heck Is It?

SEO, known as Search Engine Optimization can be a mystifying concept to the average online user.

Here’s my simple definition: SEO is the culmination of all efforts to get a website to rank highly in the search results of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.

Say what?… Ok, let me try again.

When you go and do a Google search and get back 10 website results (not counting the sponsored ads) on the first page of the results, that’s what SEO is all about. The efforts put into SEO are designed to get your website showing up in the search results when someone searches for your product, service, or whatever you do.

Simple, right?

Well… yes and no. Sure, it’s simple enough in concept. SEO gets you ranked in the search engine results like Google. That is simple.

But, the other part of SEO is this… how exactly does Google determine who gets ranked where? I mean there are literally billions of web pages, how can they be sifted and sorted through and ultimately ranked?

Ok, that is not simple.

There has to be some sort of criteria that’s used to rank websites, right? Ah… indeed there is. However, no one knows exactly what the criteria is. Now of course we have a very good idea of the things the search engines use to rank websites. If we didn’t, then well, how could SEO even exist?

But, we don’t know “exactly” what the search engines take into account when deciding how to rank a website. There seems to be countless criteria, options and different variables to consider when deciding how to go about doing SEO that at times it can be a bit overwhelming.

Add this to the fact that the search engines change their ranking algorithms from time to time and you have something of a shifting target. Something that worked maybe a year ago, because of changes in the search engine algorithms doesn’t work today.

So, what’s a small business owner to do if they want their website to start showing up… and not on page 10 of the results?

Education.

I’m the first to admit it. SEO is not super hard or difficult to learn. But you do have to take the time and effort to learn. And then you have to take the time and effort to actually apply it.

For many it’s a like a whole new language and some of the concepts may not make sense at first. But really that could be said about learning lots of other things as well.