Search Engine Optimization

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Search engine optimization is the process of making sure your website can be found by users doing a search of the Internet. The Big Goal is for one's website to come up as one of the first ten listings on a given subject. Search engine optimization (referred to as SEO by those in the biz) is actually an aspect of a website's design.

Search engines, like Google, Yahoo, DogPile, AskJeeves, and the rest, are designed to search the Web based on keywords as entered by a user. Let's say a user types a keyword ("daffodils"), or string of words ("Spring bulbs for planting"), into the search engine hoping to finding a match. The search engine runs around madly, looking for those exact words all over the Web. The top results will be those websites that have the highest frequency of those very words within their page titles, descriptions, and main body text, and also in their hidden, out of sight metatags--HTML codes unseen by users.

Search Engines Review Everything--Even Headings

Enter SEO. In order to optimize one's chances of being found during a user's search, one would want to start the main body of text with the word "daffodil." The description of that page--which may or may not be viewable by the user--might be called "Daffodils: The perfect spring bulb for planting." The definitely un-viewable metatag might read "Daffodils Spring Bulb Daffodils for Planting Daffodils," and so on.

Different search engines use different search criteria, so poising oneself to be discovered by all of them is very challenging. Nonetheless, the attempt should absolutely be made to meet at least one major engine's search criteria. Unless users are familiar with your site first-hand, a search engine is the only way most consumers will ever have the chance to find you. Many web hosts, designers, and consultants provide Search Engine Optimization services to their clients.

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