SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The term encompasses the tactics used to make a website rank as high as possible on search engine results pages.
More specifically, SEO is about the tactics you employ to appear as high as possible in Google for very specific keyword searches.
Google is by far the dominant player in North American search. Officially (from third-party groups that gather and analyze web traffic data) it holds more than 80% market share in Canada and the U.S. Unofficially, ask any webmaster in Canada where his/her search engine traffic comes from, and it's often more than 90% Google (including Google.com, Google.ca and other variations). With one of my blogs, the figure is 96.4%.
You can spend some effort wooing the other search engines, namely Bing and Yahoo!, but the time spent isn't usually worthwhile for most businesses. In general, if you're playing well with Google, Bing and Yahoo! will like your site, too. 1
There's no sense in ranking well for a keyword that nobody searches for. For instance, if you operate a flower delivery service, you could optimize for phrases like "dropping off roses to your door," or you could optimize for searches like "flower delivery service." It's not hard to see that more people would search for the latter, and it's better to get a piece of that pie, all else being equal.
But between those two examples are a thousand shades of gray. For a local flower delivery service, do you optimize for "Toronto flower delivery"? Or "flower deliveries, Toronto"? Or "florist deliveries in Toronto"? Careful research helps you determine the best keywords or keyword phrases for your business.
The first step in SEO is tweaking your on-site practices. That means all the elements that you build into your website that help your ranking, from the content you include to the technical elements that allow Google to see and understand your content.
The second step in SEO involves elements beyond your specific control, but which nonetheless you can influence. The greatest of these is in-bound links. Those are the links on someone else's website that point back to your website. Though you can't, for instance, force bloggers to write about you and link to your site, you can influence their behaviour by promoting yourself well (often using social media), and by creating the sort of content that bloggers are likely to link to.
All these elements are covered in our Essential SEO Foundations workshop.
1. Some time in 2010, Bing will take over Yahoo's crawl-based searching, giving us only two search engines of any consequence. With Bing's increase in market share, it may then be more worthwhile for many businesses to spend some Bing-specific resources.
Free Today @AppSumo Action video about Google Adwords Secrets http://appsumo.com/tweet/181/?r=z3mL 8 years ago
FREE @AppSumo VIDEO TODAY ONLY - @randfish (of SEOmoz) exposes SEO secrets for startups http://appsumo.com/tweet/155/?r=z3mL 8 years ago
That last tweet is part of an SEO experiment. Details at http://www.seomoz.org/blog/exactly-how-powerful-are-tweets-retweets 8 years ago
Jennifer Lopez - the original Jenny from the c-block - http://seomz.me/gaCCDx #jlomoz 8 years ago
Great infographic on how Google works. http://www.ppcblog.com/how-google-works/ 9 years ago