If you’ve never heard of SEO, the acronym stands for “search engine optimization.” What does it mean? Allow me to introduce Rand Fishkin, a SEO guru. Here’s his explanation of this mystical creature.
“SEO is really any input that engines use to rank pages. Any input that engines use to rank pages goes into the SEO bucket, and anything that people or technology does to influence those ranking elements is what the practice of SEO is about.”
To many, SEO is a mysterious practice, often shrouded in misconception and misunderstanding. It seems to be an attempt at cracking the code of the search engines and making them do what you want. Honestly, though, who has time for that? On top of which, there seems to be no shortage of shady SEO practitioners out there, making promises of first page rankings for anyone with deep enough pockets.


However, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. And while an astute SEO can fix many a site’s problems, SEO simply can not promise an easy, quick fix to get a site to shoot up to the top of the first page of a search engine overnight.


Although  SEO tactics vary according to a site’s objectives, the big picture goal of most sites is for their SEO efforts to create greater value for a search engine. These objectives depend on your specific business. Some sites want to rank high on Google and Bing, some want to sell more, and some want more traffic. What is best for your site isn’t necessarily what’s best for the other guy’s. So, just keep that in mind when thinking about what you want to gain from your SEO efforts.


In an effort to help you better understand SEO, perhaps I should start by telling you what not to do rather than what to do.


Back in the old days of SEO, much of the practice involved keyword placement. Which is primarily, but not exclusively, placing researched and targeted keywords in a site’s copy, title tag, and meta-desription. This led to people trying to game the system. Writers were stuffing their content full of keywords. That is, loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google’s search results.  One example of this might be, “We sell used cars and pre-owned used cars on our pre-owned and used car lot.” Not only is this sentence stuffed with the keywords “used cars” and “pre-owned cars” it’s pure nonsense and shouldn’t be read by anyone. So the search engines stopped placing so much importance on keyword placement and started looking for relative, useful content to judge the authority of a website.


So, keyword stuffing is out. Search engines don’t concentrate their importance on keywords like they used to. Nowadays you should focus your keyword research on your site’s title tags, meta descriptions and use them as a starting point for creating original, trustworthy, useful content for your users.


Also, make sure you’re gaining links naturally. Google frowns on those sites that employ link schemes, like buying links, large-scale guest posting, link exchanges, and other tactics designed to exploit links building to boost page rank. In fact, link building schemes have become so prevalent that SEO’s are removing links from sites in order to avoid the wrath of Google.

What else is important these days? The answer is, well, everything is important. Go back to Rand’s quote from above.

I often refer to the practice of SEO as a holistic approach that involves psychology, analytics, branding, advertising, social media, blogs, email, and whatever else is out there to drive traffic to online entities.

Remember, Google wants to return its users’ queries with the best, most relevant, most trustworthy, and fastest answers. So try to deliver the most value to your end user and you’ll be on the right path.

I hope this post has cleared up the mysterious world of SEO at least a little. Still have questions? Drop me line and I’ll do what I can to help you out.

More about SEO to come.