What Is Search Engine Optimization?

The below information is also explained on the YouTube video “What Is Search Engine Optimization.”

Imagine for a minute that you’re a librarian, but not a normal librarian. For every book in the world people depend on you every day to find the exact book they need for the information they are searching for. How do you do it?

You need a system! If you expect to find the best information for each user you need to know what’s inside every book.  Furthermore, you need to know how each book relates to another. Your system needs to take in a lot of information and spit out the best answers for the patron’s questions.

Search Engines Are the Modern Day Librarians

Search Engines Are the Modern Day Librarians

It’s not an easy job. Search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and Google are modern-day librarians of the Internet. Their online systems collect information from every page on the web in an effort to help people find exactly what they’re searching for. Every search engine will have a secret recipe called an algorithm that turns information into useful search results.

If you own a Web site search results matter when your pages have higher rankings. They help more people find you the key to higher rankings is making sure your website has the ingredients. Search engines need for their recipes. This is called search engine optimization or SEO.

As it turns out some of the main ingredients are known. Let’s take a look.

[Related: Learn How To Hire Your First SEO]


website keywords

First, words matter. Search engines account for every word on the web. This way when someone searches for “green Nike shoes” the search engines can narrow the results to only the pages that are about those words.  When adding keywords to a page you don’t want to over do it though.  Make sure that the keywords flow naturally in the content.  Having the same keyword in your article might also be a bad thing.  This is referred to as over-optimization.  Keep things balanced when creating your content.

Meta Title Tags

Meta Title Tags

Second, titles matter. Each page on the Web has an official title but you may not ever see it because it’s in the code. Search engines pay a lot of attention to page titles because they often summarize the page like a book’s title.

Having a good meta title tag can also help get more clicks to your website, improving your click-through rate (CTR) from search engines.  When a search engine displays your page on a search engine results page, it will often times use the title tag that you provided within the code of your website. Including both keywords and a compelling call to action in your title tag can be a winning combination.

Links To Your Website

Don't Abuse Link Building

Third, links between Web sites matter. When one web page links to another it’s usually a recommendation telling readers this site has good information. A Web page with a lot of links coming to it can look good to search engines, so long as the links are of good quality.  Having a number of authoritative websites referencing and citing your content will help you build the authority of your website.

Some people try to fool the search engines by creating or buying bogus links all over the web that point to their own Web site. Usually, search engines can detect when a site has a lot of them and they account for it by giving links from trustworthy sites more weight in the recipe (search engine algorithm).

Anchor Text Matters

Fourth the words that are used in links matter too. These words are called anchor text.  If your web page says “Best Buy has lots of computers for sale” and the word computer is linked, search engines can establish that bestbuy.com is related to the word books. This way when someone searches for computers that site will rank well.

Website Reputation


Lastly, search engines care about reputation. Sites with a consistent record of fresh engaging content and growing numbers of quality links may be considered rising stars and do well in search rankings.

These are just the basics and the recipes (search engine algorithm) are refined and changed all the time. Good SEO is about making sure your website has great content that’s supported by the ingredients that search engines need for their recipes.