The 30,000-foot view.

Search engine optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, is the systematic process of optimizing your website to achieve top organic rankings at search engines by using a variety of techniques and best practices.

Search engine optimization will increase your website’s overall online visibility to people who use search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and others.

When done properly, effectively, and consistently, your website will achieve long-term top rankings, for your targeted keywords and keyword phrases, in the organic non-paid search results on a particular search engine’s search engine results page (SERP).

Search engine optimization is the process of increasing your website’s relevancy specifically related to targeted keywords and keyword phrases. It also involves creating authority and trust, thereby triggering favorability with a particular search engine’s ranking algorithm.

Do it all correctly, add in a little patience, and your website will be rewarded with the top rankings you desire. You are top-ranked for the long-term and your website is showing up above your competition!

As you can imagine, there is a lot of competition for one of the top 10 results on a search engine results page (SERP). To out rank your competition, you’ll have to out optimize them!

There is no such thing as free lunch when it comes to getting top organic rankings at Google. And in most cases it doesn’t happen fast. The more work you put into it, the better the results you will see. For very competitive keywords and keyword phrases it will require even more effort and patience.

Key Search Engine Optimization Terms

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – is the combined use of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search engine advertising (SEA). Think of it as an all-inclusive “search” strategy to attain maximum online visibility for your website, brand, products, and services.

Relevancy – the condition of being relevant to a search performed; the search returns the best results (in theory!). In the search engine optimization world, it means content that is most likely going to closely match the search performed by someone, and thereby deliver the best or most relevant answer to their query. Many factors go into determining relevancy and you’ll learn about all of them, their importance, and how they are differently weighted in search engine algorithms, in this program.

Search Engine Ranking Algorithm – a set of rules search engines use to analyze online content and thereby rank it in the results on a search engine results page (SERP).

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – a listing of website pages returned to a user’s browser after a search is performed using a search engine. Most search engine results pages show 10 listings by default, but also offer page 2, 3, 4, etc.

Crawlers (or Bots) – search engines use computerized programs to scan the Internet, visit website pages, and analyze the content of those pages. They collect information and place it in a database, often referred to as the index.

Index – a big database of information, in this case a database of information about websites and their web pages. The process of search engine indexing is the process of collecting, analyzing, parsing, and then storing information to facilitate fast and accurate retrieval based on the search engine’s ranking algorithm and the search query.

Keywords and Keyword Phrases – a word or combination of words that describe your website, brand, products, and services. Keywords and keyword phrases are a fundamental part of the search engine optimization process and critically important to your success.

Organic Rankings – rankings in a search engine that show up as a result of the search engine optimization process, not advertising, sponsored or paid placement.

Ask an Expert

Q: Do search engines other than Google even matter today?

A: In the United States Google controls about 65% of the search game. Bing/Microsoft comes in around 24%. Yahoo! shows up in third place with about 11%. Yahoo! is now owned by Verizon. When you drill down on mobile search Google leads again with 93% market share.

My experience has been that if I optimize for Google my rankings with the other search engines usually show up similarly to Google. I tell people “If you want to catch more fish, fish where the fish are!

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