Mmmm, pie! Anyone up for a slice of SEO pie?
If you’re just getting into the big wide world of website design and Internet marketing you’ve probably stumbled across the acronym SEO. And by now you’ve probably figured out that it stands for Search Engine Optimization. For the remainder of this article we’re just going to use “SEO” for brevity.
SEO is an area of knowledge and specialization within web design and marketing. You can definitely build web sites with no knowledge or intent to optimize them for good placement in an organic Internet search. “Organic search? I just thought searching for something on the Internet with just surfing.”
Ok, let’s back up a little. When you do a search for something in your search engine of choice (the big 4 are Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask) you’ll be returned with pages upon pages of results. Generally the very top 2 to 4 listings on a page (usually the first page) are paid, ie. those websites pay Google or Yahoo, etc., to get those top results, regardless of the quality of the content on those sites. The right hand column are also paid listings.
These paid listings are sometimes not obvious, as the search engine will list them in the same colors as the “natural” listings. It can be a bit deceiving. You may see a tiny bit of text next to these listings that says something like “sponsored listings”. Everything else on the page is then considered unpaid, natural, or organic.
Getting into the organic search engine results area, especially on the first page, is the golden prize of SEO. It’s generally thought by Internet marketing people that if a website shows up on the first page of an organic search it conveys more of a sense of credibility. I definitely agree with this reasoning. When I go searching for something I generally ignore any of the paid listings and go right for the top handful of organic listings.
If you’re aware that those top results are paid spots you may be ignoring them as well. There tends to be a definite tendency in our culture for “ad blindness”– just being immune to ads popping up in front of us all the time.
What’s Involved in SEO?
Glad you asked. Building and managing a website to rank on the first page of Google, Yahoo, or MSN (sorry, it’s Bing now) is a never ending job. The task is a little easier, however, if your website is built with an “architecture” for SEO right off the bat. The image on the top of this page gives you an idea of all the factors that go into building a site that ranks well.
If you can’t quite read it because of the tiny text it looks like this…