Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of methods aimed at improving the ranking of a website in search engine listings, and is an important part in search engine marketing.
Search engines display different kinds of listings in the search engine results pages (SERPs), including: pay per click advertisements, paid inclusion listings, and organic search results. SEO is primarily concerned with advancing the goals of a website by improving the number and position of its organic search results for a wide variety of relevant keywords. Search Engine Optimization strategies may increase both the number and quality of visitors. Search engine optimization can be offered as a stand-alone service, or as a part of a larger marketing effort, and can often be very effective when incorporated into the initial development and design of a site.
One of the main things to understand is the difference between search engines and directories.
Crawler based search engines rely on automated software agents called spiders. These spiders grab information like page titles, and textual content to be included in the search engines index or database. Search engines determine relevancy by applying a set of rules known as an algorithm. This algorithm determines whether to include a specific page in the results, based on the items captured by the spider. Google is a good example of this type of search engine.
The other types of search engines are those that have a directory. The main distinguishing factor here is the human element. Directories are organized by actual people who visit the submitted site. They basically decide the categorization of the web site and the wording of the titles and descriptions that will be the basis by which searchers will find the web site. LookSmart is an example of human powered directory. Search engines like Yahoo and MSN, present both crawler-based and human powered results, and are known as hybrid search engines.
For competitive, high-volume search terms, the cost of pay per click advertising can be substantial. Ranking well in the organic search results can provide the same targeted traffic at a potentially significant savings. Site owners may choose to optimize their sites for organic search, if the cost of optimization is less than the cost of advertising.
Not all sites have identical goals for search optimization. Some sites seek a wide array of traffic, and may be optimized to rank highly for commonly used search phrases. A broad search optimization strategy can work for a site that has broad interest, such as a newspaper or magazine, a directory, or site that displays advertising with a CPC revenue model. On the other hand, many businesses try to optimize their sites for large quantities of specific keywords that indicate readiness to buy. Overly broad search optimization can hurt your marketing strategy by generating a large volume of low-quality inquiries that cost money to handle, yet result in little business. A better focused plan concentrating on desirable traffic generates better quality sales leads, resulting in more sales. Search engine optimization can be very effective when used as part of a smart niche marketing strategy.