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What is Search Engine Optimization?

Aug 17, 2007
If you have a website doing business on the Internet, you would probably like to have people find your website. On the Internet people typically find websites using search engines, like Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc. Anybody with any computer experience knows what a search engine is. And they know that they can go to their favorite sear engine and type in a few words related to the subject they're looking for and the search engine will give them a list of websites that match those keywords. The search engines find these sites, and sort them, based on certain attributes of the websites themselves. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the tweaking of these attributes in order to help a website place higher in the search results for their given keywords.

Many new website owners are unsure of what exactly needs to be done to a website to make it Search Engine Optimized. The truth is, opinions vary, and nobody knows the exact techniques that will result in a 100% SEO'd website, and that's because the search engines don't announce the specific criteria that determine rankings. Even the SEO experts disagree on many of the advanced SEO techniques. However, there are some general rules that seem to be universally recognized (for the most part) as important factors in SEO.

The basic rules of how SEO is applied to a website can be broken down into two parts:

1) On-page factors (stuff you can change within your website), like:
- Using the keywords that describe your site in the HTML; title, H1, H2, and Alt tags
- Using the proper keyword density in your webpage content
- Using proper internal linking strategy (how you internal pages link to each other)

2) Off-page factors (stuff you do outside of your website), like:
- Reciprocal linking with other websites
- One-way links
* All links to your website should contain your website's keywords in the link text (anchor text)

The on-page SEO factors basically tell the search engine spiders (which are just little programs that continuously move around the Internet examining sites) what kind of content your website contains, and what keywords that content relates to. The off-page factors operate like votes. Each website that has a link to your website essentially tells the search engine that they are voting for your site, and if the anchor text in the link contains your website's keywords, that strengthens the vote for your site, for those keywords.

This is a very high-level view of some generally accepted methods of SEO. Then there are more advanced topics that are more opinion based.
About the Author
Michael Ellis discusses implementation details and more advanced SEO topics in the VictoryKey Internet Marketing Forums and VictoryKey Internet Marketing Strategies website.
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