What is SEO, Anyway?

What is SEO, Anyway?

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Unless you are a WWWW (that would be World Wide Web Wizard) the details of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may seem about as understandable to you as Latin… Unless you know Latin, in which case, maybe… Russian? Unless you know Russian, too, then you’re just going to have to come up with your own analogy.

At it’s most basic, SEO is the utilization of a variety of methods to boost your website as far up in the relevant search result pages as you can get, thus driving more traffic to your site. Such elements include quality content, applicable keywords, good user interface design, quality inbound links and many more.

Notice I said “relevant.” Do you remember the commercial that depicted a search result as a room full of people that looked more or less like what that search was for, except there in the front row was a leather-clad, whip-bearing dominatrix? The comment was made, “Oh, there’s always at least one of those in every search.” This is much less true today.

The better mousetrap

Why? Because what started out as a search based primarily on information provided on the honor system by the webmasters themselves has become a search based on complex algorithmic calculations of a multitude of different factors designed to prevent the unscrupulous from gaming the system. You know — a better mousetrap. A mousetrap which is a lot more like the board game where you’re trapped by a Rube-Goldberg-esque chain of events than the standard wood and wire trap you may have in your attic. A mousetrap designed to keep all but the most relevant mice from getting the cheese of a high search result.

You can be sure that the major mousetrap builders — Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. — not only aren’t sharing more than a fraction of their building specs with the mice, but are also changing those specs all the time. So what’s a poor mouse to do?

“Here he comes to save the day…”

Well, unless SEO is your job or you’re simply fascinated by it and have a lot of time on your hands to keep up with the latest do’s and don’t’s, your best bet is probably to hire an SEO expert. They can help you to effectively navigate the twists and turns of SEO best practices such as unique, compelling meta descriptions, effective keywords, alt-text and descriptive file names for images, networks of cross-linked pages, and more. An ethical SEO expert can also help you to avoid so-called “black hat” practices, which often started out as legitimate SEO techniques but were so misused and abused they could now get you banned from or penalized by the search engines.

SEO isn’t just a gimmick. As search engines take into account more and more factors such as the quality of content, the social authority a site commands, and the user-friendliness of your design, effective SEO naturally becomes a vital tool in the development of the best website possible.

In other words, the effective use of SEO can not only help you avoid the traps, it can turn you into Mighty Mouse! Who wouldn’t want that?