SEO Basics

What is it?

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of designing, and promoting a website to achieve a high "rank" in Search Engine results for specific "key words". The easiest way to understand it is with an example.

Assume for a moment you are a Realtor with a website. Assume you live and work in Kitsap County, Washington. Furthermore, your office is located in Bremerton which has a large enough population to keep you quite busy. You don't like to drive, so you want to get as many Bremerton clients as possible.

SEO is what we use to ensure that when an internet user, sitting in his kitchen, types "homes for sale in Bremerton WA" into the Google search engine, your real estate website gets displayed as the #1 result.

Why bother?

The reasons for applying SEO to a website are twofold. First, there is a lot of business generated by the internet. Second, there is a lot of competition on the internet. SEO gets your website in front of your competitors (all the other Realtors with websites).

The math

If you need convincing, take a look at the following facts and figures for our example website. This data is accurate as of June, 2009. We'll show you how to get this data for any search term in another article.

Search TermSearch VolumeCompetition
bremerton homes for sale
bremerton wa homes for sale
homes for sale bremerton washington
homes for sale bremerton wa

These are pretty eye-opening numbers for a small town in a small county way up in Washington State! Clearly, there is business available for these search terms.

How it works

Search Engine Optimization tasks can be broken down into two general categories; on-page optimization and off-page optimization. Both types of activities will improve a website's ranking. Both types of tasks are important. And, when used together, the improvement in search engine ranking is remarkable.

Before spending time and/or money, working on off-page techniques like link building, it is vitally important to have a website ready to receive the Search Engines. When the search engine spiders understand clearly what your website is all about, ranking improves immediately.

The tasks of a Search Engine spider are quite simple.

  • Visit a website
  • Read all the text on the main page
  • Understand the text and categorize it
  • Find all internal pages
  • Find all links to external websites
  • Read all the internal pages
  • Understand the content and categorize the internal pages
  • Then, move onto an external website and do it all over again

These spiders (also called "crawlers" or "web bots") are amazing. Think about what it means to "understand" a web page. Websites exist for every subject imaginable. The variety and amount of information is overwhelming. In addition, on any individual topic, hundred or thousands of websites may share the same topic.

On-page optimization

(coming soon)

Off-page optimization

(coming soon)

Comment on this article