SEO - WHAT is it?

Besides being the name of a Korean artist, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  First, a Search Engine is a website where users go to find things by typing keywords and clicking a SEARCH button.  Google is by far the most widely used with Bing and Yahoo tied at a distant second.  In fact, Bing (which is run by Microsoft of Windows and Office fame) and Yahoo (who used to be number one in search before Google came along) formed a Search Alliance a few years ago, which primarily capitalizes on a joint advertising system.

Advertising?  What does that have to do with search?

If you're at least as old as I am, you remember a time before the advent of the internet combined with the mainstream adoption of the personal computer.  And how did we search for things back in those dark ages?  Do you remember the telephone book?  It was the directory for our primary method of outside communication: the telephone.  And how did companies like Yellow Pages give us those free massive volumes of tissue-thin paper and tiny print which ended up on your fingers?  By selling advertisements where businesses and even individuals could pay to be featured in these huge books.  The funny thing is that Yellow Pages continues to drudge along with pretty much the same ol' business model.  The only difference is that now you can also use their website if you don't want to lug out that massive paper cut hazard.  Mine goes straight from the doorstep to my recycle bin each year.

So these modern versions of that old information directory, now called Search Engines, are global collections of digital records or databases which are accessed via a search field as opposed to alphabetically thumbing through a large book.  Obviously "Googling" or "Binging" (is that a thing?) is infinitely more efficient, plus it allows for many more possibilities in both data mining and revenue sources such as ads.  And paying for ads on search engines are worth far more to businesses than paying for old phone book ads.  But the fundamental function, as well as the primary way these companies all make money, is advertising.

BUT, the whole point of this post is that if you optimize your website with a few key elements which search engines look for, then it may not be as crucial to advertise until you reach a certain point since your target customers/audience will be able to easily find you IF you play your cards right.  There are FREE ways to take advantage of search engines without shelling out a bunch of cash for ads.  SEO is the key.

Which brings us back to our primary question: WHAT IS SEO?  Search Engine Optimization is making sure your website is set up in a way that Google, Bing/Yahoo and other search engines can easily gather information that your audience will use to find you by typing words into a search field.  It also involves strategically using your content to help you land at the top of the search result list.  We'll go into detail on how to accomplish this in an upcoming post.

This is the first in a series of posts which will hopefully take some of the mystery away from one of the biggest internet marketing buzz words of our time:  SEO.  Stay tuned for answers to the questions, WHO needs SEO and WHY is it so important.

Do you know if your website utilizes common SEO practices in order to maximize your online presence? What are some of the things that you have done to climb to the top of search engine results?

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