SEO (Search Engine Optimization) : SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” The term may sound like optimizing an actual search engine such as Google, however this professional service focuses on tweaking a website to do well – to appear among the top listings on search engine results pages (SERPs). SERPs are web pages returned by search engines like Google or Yahoo! after a user performs a search. These pages contain links to web sites and documents that the search engine deems relevant to the word or phrase. These words or phrases are also known as “keywords.”
Using complex and proprietary algorithms, search engines consider hundreds of factors when gauging the relevance of a certain site or webpage. Search engines are constantly changing their proprietary algorithms – sometimes significantly – in an attempt to list only the most relevant results.
Major search engines vary their results by geographic region and language. For example, Google’s German page will place more emphasis on German websites. Search engines use various pieces of information; among these is language, the physical location of a website’s server, etc. Thus, the results from Google.de may differ from the results of Google.com.
SEO is “keyword centric.” A major emphasis for professionals is to figure out what words or phrases a website’s target audience is likely to use when searching for a site’s content. Using this information, they strive to have the website appear within the first page of search results. SEO is strongly related to search engine marketing (SEM), which focuses on delivering advertisements that are relevant to an executed search. It is critical to the success of any SEO or website marketing campaign to have specific keywords in mind from the onset of the project. See Figure 1 to see where text ads appear on search results pages.
A website’s search engine “rank” refers to its position in the search engine’s results. There are factors that influence the rank of a website on SERPs that website administrators can control; others they cannot.
Controllable factors include page title tags, page content, the website’s architecture, and the ease at which a web “spider” can examine a site. A web spider is a website discovery program deployed by search engines that scans the Internet looking for new pages and content changes on pages it has already discovered. There is little control over what competing websites can do to increase their search engine ranking; these actions may result in the down-ranking of other sites. Furthermore, website administrators sometimes can influence which other websites will link to their own site and how they will do so.