What Is Search Engine Optimization? SEO 101

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If you have a website that you'd like to get more visits from search engines and search engine users than you need to know at least the basics of search engine optimization.

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

At the most basic of levels, search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is making your site and the site's individual pages visible and relevant to both search engines and search engine users. You want people to visit your site, and they want to find your site if it's something that meets their particular content needs. There are a few basic components to search engine optimization that everyone who owns a website should know at least to start. 

The Basics 

Good search engine optimization is very basic. A successful search engine optimization campaign will contain these essential components:

  • Content. Content is what drives search engine rankings, content is what brings users to your site, and content, when sprinkled appropriately with keyword phrases, will feed search engine spiders. Content is key in search engine optimization, as content is what people are looking for. If your content meets the needs of what people are searching for, and they find what they are looking for on your site, that in turn sends positive signals to search engines that your site delivers relevant, quality results. This sign of quality is the basic signal that search engines are looking for in order to send visitors to your site.
  • Simple Site Design. Sites that are successful in the search engine results have this in common-they are all simply designed, with a minimum of bandwidth-hogging graphics, slowly loading animations or other such bandwidth-hogging designs, and are easy to navigate. Simple, clean designs are what search engine spiders and search engine users like, because it enables them to get to what they're looking for; which is - you guessed it - content. Site design should be focused on getting the visitor to what they are looking for with the fewest clicks possible. 
  • Well-written Meta information. Meta tags are HTML codes that are inserted into the header on a web page, after the title tag. In the context of search engine optimization, when people refer to meta tags, they are usually referring to the meta description tag and the meta keywords tag. Meta tags-keyword, description, and title- are important, but they won't make or break your site. Meta tags are merely part of the overall success strategy. They need to be written with compelling content that will make the user click through from the search results page. One component of this that is especially important is the title tag, as that is what readers are looking at when scanning search engine results. A title tag that instantly informs the searcher what that page is about will get more clickthroughs than a title tag that is unnecessarily obtuse, hiding the point of the page behind clever turns of phrase. 
  • The meta description tag and the meta keywords tag are not seen by users. Instead, these tags main purpose is providing meta document data to user agents, such as search engines. In addition to the well-known meta description and meta keywords tags, there are other useful meta tags, including the meta http-equiv tag, meta refresh tag, the meta robots tag, the meta copyright tag, and the meta author tag, etc. These tags are used to give web browsers and search engine spiders directions or data on various information.

    SEO Is Quite Simple

    There is definitely more to search engine optimization, and it can get quite technical, just like any other subject. However, search engine optimization at its most basic level is quite simple. Learning search engine optimization takes time, just like any other subject. Here are more resources that can help you with search engine optimization:

    • Ten Steps to a Well-Optimized Site :Want increased website traffic, higher search engine ranking, and increased customer satisfaction? Read these Ten Steps to a Well-Optimized Site and you'll be well on your way to accomplishing these goals.
    • Top 5 Mistakes in Search Engine Optimization: Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of making your site search-friendly both to search engines and searchers. There are five common mistakes that people tend to make when beginning to optimize their sites for search engines.
    • Ten Search Engine Optimization Myths - Debunked!: If you're just getting started in search engine optimization for your Web site, you might (unfortunately) have been subjected to a few SEO whoppers. Before you start throwing away your time and money on search engine optimization wild goose chases, read these ten myths of search engine optimization.