Openness and education are incredibly important, especially when it comes to SEO, as the profession is open to abuse and misinformation. In order to better inform my site visitors I have prepared this article which will hopefully allow you to gain a basic understanding of what is involved in SEO and what to look for when hiring an SEO consultant or company.
What do you see when you use a Search Engine?
Once a user has submitted a search query to either Google, Yahoo or MSN they will see a list of ordered results that take 2 forms:
Pay Per Click (PPC) Adverts
PPC adverts are how the main 3 search engines make money, an advertiser chooses the search terms that will trigger their adverts and whenever a user clicks on the advert the advertiser pays the search engine. PPC adverts are shown down the right hand side and sometimes above the other results that appear on the page. On Google, Yahoo and MSN these results are labeled as either "Sponsored Links", "Sponsor Results" or "Sponsored Sites" respectively.
Natural (Organic or Algorithmic) Search Results
The Natural (Organic or Algorithmic) Search Results appear next to the adverts, and are served up based on the relevance of each given page to the search query that was entered. It is commonly suggested that these results enjoy around 75% of the clicks for any give term, but in my experience this can vary greatly depending on the search term selected and the competition.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimization or (SEO) refers to the process of improving the results of a given web site / page in the Natural (Organic or algorithmic) search results, using both onsite and offsite elements. A good SEO will consider how search engines work in light of what people have historically searched for, the relevancy of the phrase and the strength of the competition for each phrase.
What do Search Engines want?
As established above the main search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN) make their money when users click on the adverts that appear along the natural (organic or algorithmic) search results, when a user clicks on the adverts the search engine in question makes money from the click. The key word here is relevancy; if the results served up by the search engines stop being relevant the users will leave and try to find what they need from an alternative search engine, and the clicks (and therefore the revenue) will start to dry up.
What do your Site Visitors want?
It is quite common for people to implement SEO thinking that ranking for a given phrase is the only focus; This can lead to a poorly designed site that does not work for the site visitor. When implemented properly SEO should lead to the addition of site content that will improve both the standing in the search engine rankings and the experience of the sites visitors.
So what does all this mean?
- Exception PPC there