Tue May 19 19:45:14 PDT 2015

What is Search Engine Optimization...

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a topic shrouded in jargon and folklore. However, its net effect is to mimic the creation of quality online information. A more reliable route to achieving the objectives of SEO is to actually create quality content.

When you look at the you see advertising for Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. In the past I have wondered what SEO was all about, so I conducted some investigation, read several articles, a book or two and in the interests of demystification, I thought that I would summarize my simple conclusions. Search Engine Optimization, as a topic, profession, or activity is firstly hard to define and secondly essentially worthless.

The traditional definition of Search Engine Optimization is that entails two distinct activities. The first is improving the targeting of web pages for specific search terms, so that Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, will tend to provide certain pages in response to specific queries. The second is improving the ranking of those web pages among the set of pages which match a given search term.

Why would you want a given web page to be returned by a certain search term? Why would you want a given web page to appear in the first few results for a certain search term? The essential answer is 'readership'. If you have a web page with any form of advertising, be it paid adverts for products or advertising for your own products, you need people to read and see those adverts for the advertising to be effective. One of the best ways to obtain readers, or traffic as it is known on the web, is to be returned for common search terms and to rank highly in the results for those search terms. So SEO is all about obtaining a steady stream of potential readers or buyers.

The first objective of SEO, that of insuring that a given web page is returned as a result for a certain search term, tends to revolve around insuring that key words are appropriately distributed on the target page. Strangely enough, according the SEO folklore, you can have too many key words or too few on a given page. These keywords can be in different positions on the web page and need to be appropriately positioned to have the desired effect. They should be in the header, in the name of the page, in the headings on the page, and generally distributed about the page just as if the page were a piece of normal writing on the subject of the key word.

The second objective of SEO, that of insuring that a given web page is ranked highly in the results for a given search term, is a little harder to engineer. Apparently one effective method is to count the pages in the whole web that point toward this particular page. This is akin to allowing the web to express its collective opinion on the popularity of this particular page. However, again there are good links and bad links. If you have links pointing to a given page from sites which are set up exclusively to create links, this will do you no good. The only sites that get a vote are legitimate, quality sites. The effect is very much as one would see if the page were in fact popular and widely linked to across the web because of its status as an authoritative source of information.

Again, the SEO folklore, warns early and often of the problems of gaming the system. The search engines penalize sites which are guilty of using tricks in order to acquire additional traffic. Only legitimate sites can reliably expect to be highly ranked by the search engines.

This leads to the inevitable conclusion that the important part of SEO is actually creation of quality content. This will not be interpreted as attempting to cheat by the search engines which index the web and so will not be penalized. It also calls into doubt the entire activity of SEO, anything artificial that is done to boost search engine performance can likely be detected by the search engine development teams and then penalized in the future.

So, if you are thinking about SEO as a route to increased web site traffic, think instead of improving your web site's content and its overall quality. This is the tried and tested approach, which is unlikely to fall foul of the search engines' game detection schemes, because it perfectly matches what search engines seek, quality, useful content.

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