SEO refers to "search engine optimization." You are optimizing your site when you make adjustments that will increase its placement in the search engine results page when a user searches for any particular keyword phrase.
You can also pay Google or Yahoo to have your site listed in the "Paid Advertisements" or "Sponsored Results" section of the major search engines, but this is known as "pay per click," and it means just that: you will be bidding on placement for any particular keyword phase, and you will be paying the search engine each time someone clicks on your listing.
For that reason, what is known as "organic search engine optimization" can often result in a more favorable return on your investment than other forms of online marketing. If you do not have the time to invest in working on your site, consider having a professional do the work for you. If you do not take advantage of organic search engine optimization, you are missing out on an opportunity. Think of it this way - there will be keyword phrases for which your site has the potential to be listed in the first ten search results. When consumers type these keywords into the search engines upwards of 60 or more times per day, and your site is NOT listed in the top ten results, that is simply a market that you are not tapping.
This guide will focus primarily on achieving top "organic" search engine listings. You will want to follow this step-by-step guide for improving your site's visibility and rankings:
1. Get your site found by the major search engines.
This is known as "link popularity". You want to make sure that your site is being linked to from as many sites as possible and that you have good, qualilty sites linking to yours using a text-based, keyword-rich link. If nobody is linking to you, it is going to be very difficult to get the search engines to even find you when they "crawl" the Web. You can read more in our article, "Link Building Tips."
2. Research your site for keyword phrases that get a good amount of traffic.
Do not try to guess what the consumers in your market will be typing into the search engines when looking for your product. No matter how much experience you have in your industry, nothing will compare to a tool that actually shows you numbers. Our keyword suggestion tool will show you exactly how many people are searching for any particular keyword in the major search engines.
3. Use your keywords throughout your site.
Google, MSN, AOL, Yahoo! and other search engines are looking for sites that act as an authority on their subject matter. If you want to become number one for "discount widgets", show the search engine spiders that you know everything there is to know about "discount widgets" and that you are the authority on the topic. Write information on your homepage about what you sell, why you sell it, and why visitors should buy from you. Tell visitors what your competitive advantage is. Put your keywords in these paragraphs of information. Create custom pages of information, and link to them from your homepage so that the search engines can find them. Create long descriptions for your products and categories. Put your keywords into your title and meta tags.
Whatever you write on your site in the form of paragraphs made of complete sentences is what the search engines will actually read. Search engine spiders cannot read text that you place in an image, and often, they cannot read what you have placed in a flash presentation. When it comes to the search engines, content is king!