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Monday, July 24, 2006

Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO Definition

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of making the website search engine friendly and capable of ranking for specific, industry-related keywords in the organic search results of a search engine.

SEO is also used as an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimizers. But generally, the optimization process is referred to as SEO.Examples using SEO:

Ex: Would you SEO my site? (Here, SEO refers to ‘Search Engine Optimize’).Ex 2: Do I need SEO for my site? (Here, SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization)

SEO: The Need

Once a website is created, Internet Marketing is the obvious next step. Because:

No marketing -> No visitors -> No customers -> No profit

Today, at the core of Internet Marketing lie Search Engines. Search Engines provide searchers a list of websites related to their search term query. For each searched term, there are two types of results displayed – Paid advertisements or Sponsored links/Ads (usually at the top & bottom highlighted in a different color or right side of the webpage) and natural/organic results (left side of the webpage).

Difference between Sponsored Listing or PPC Ads and SEO

Space in the ‘Sponsored Links’ section, as the name suggests, is bought through a system of bidding. Higher the bid amount, higher is the ranking. The organic results, however, are not in the hands of the webmaster. Search Engines have their own algorithm which they use to rank sites. Search Engines evaluate the websites in their database for their relevancy to the search term in question and rank them accordingly.

Note: Search Engine Results Page listings are not calculated real time.

Why you need SEO

Stats show that 80-85% of the users visiting search engines click on the organic search results (also called organic listings). Another research shows that 70% of the search engine users never go to the second page of the search engine results page. These studies make two things very clear:

  • Ranking in the organic search engine results gets you more traffic than ranking in Sponsored links
  • Ranking within the top ten organic search engine results is important in order to capitalize on the search engine traffic.

So how do you achieve the above?

SEO is your answer. SEO is a technique that makes the website search engine crawler friendly (ensuring that a search engine crawler would be able to index your site) and increases the relevancy of the website for specific search terms (hence increases its ability to rank for those specific keywords).

SEO is not a black art. In order to capitalize on SE traffic, SEO is important.

The SEO Implementation Process

Marketing your website on search engines is known is Search Engine Marketing or SEM.

SEM includes Pay per Click or PPC & Search Engine Optimization or SEO. SEO is a combination of on-page and off-page optimization. Off-page optimization focuses on increasing the importance of a webpage and is popularly known as Link Building. On-page optimization focuses more on increasing the page relevancy and is commonly known as SEO.

Different SEO processes

The SEO process starts with website analysis, understanding of the business and the target audience. Keeping the target audience in mind, the search terms or keywords are evaluated and the industry relevant terms are selected for which the site would be optimized (keywords for which you would like to rank for in search engines).
Once keywords are identified, they should be divided into groups of similar keywords. Each group of keywords is then used in order to ‘optimize’ a related webpage. This includes creating Meta tags, content creation or rewriting of content such that the keywords are included within the text and paragraph headings. The discussion of actual parameters of the webpage which are addressed for optimization is beyond the scope of this article.
The on-page optimization process takes 2-3 weeks depending upon whether you need to create additional content or not. The results take another 3-4 weeks to show up depending on when the website is next indexed by respective search engines.

Brief on Link Building or off-page optimization process

The off-page optimization process differs from the above post keyword research. As the same suggests, it involves targeting the off-page parameters that affect rankings on search engines. This includes promoting your website through the Internet and getting incoming links from qualified* webpages. The process is time consuming and is an ongoing process. Depending on the keywords and competition, it may take 4-12 weeks before you can see the positive affect on rankings.

Knowing SEO and doing SEO

With the information available about SEO on the Web, it is possible for website owners to undertake implementing SEO themselves. If you have the time and the resources, this may well be a good idea. But we would strongly recommend you to read another article, Why hire SEO professionals, before you decide. Its good to know what you're getting into beforehand.


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