Search Engine Optimization, when it’s all said and done, is anything that can improve your ranking in the search engines (usually Google, but also Yahoo, MSN, etc.) so that people who are looking for what you have to offer can find you easily. And, hopefully, find you standing out as King of the Hill.
An awful lot has been written about search engine optimization. Some of it has been written by people who knew what they were talking about the time. Some has been written by people who didn’t. And some has been written by people who were out to make a buck from offline businesses who didn’t know any better. And even the folks who knew what they were talking about often had knowledge that was only valuable until the next Google search engine update.
Typically, SEO involves a mixture of having quality content, making sure your website coding is clean and is properly marked (“tagged”) for your keywords, and being linked to by plenty of other linked-to sites.
At one point, you could get high rankings in search engines by repeating your keywords way too many times on your pages, and doing some tricky things with your web page coding. While keywords are definitely still relevant to placing well in Google & Co., you can’t rank well these days just by repeating your key term every ten words or so. It used to work, but now it’ll send your site to the bottom of the list. It can even get your site banned.
One of today’s most important elements is how many links you have coming in to your site from other site’s pages, and how much authority (in GoogleLand, this is known as Page Rank) those pages have. The theory is that the more sites linking to yours=more people finding your site useful/relevant. This isn’t always the case, as I’ll be showing you in the near future.
Should you hire someone to optimize your website? Ultimately, that depends on how much time and energy you want to spend learning and practicing search engine optimization. For some people, learning SEO is an excellent thing to do. Other folks would definitely be better off concentrating on other things they’re good at, and leaving their rankings to the pros (although there are plenty of simple, effective methods that anybody can practice).
In the next few days, I’ll let you know a little bit about what Search Engine Optimization is, how you can do it for yourself, and what to look for (and not look for) if you want to hire a professional to do the work for you.