What is Search Engine Optimization

What is Search Engine Optimization


 This article is part of the WWW 101 Series which provides an introduction to small business websites.


Many small businesses seek to attract new customers on the Internet through search engines. The typical goal is to see your website appear at the top of the search results. But there are only so many spots at the top, so you will face a lot of competition. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

Search engine optimization involves a variety of ongoing activities that help search engines find and display your website. It is important to have a general understanding of the main elements of SEO so you can work with your Web Developer to optimize your website. The ideal time to think about search engine optimization is when you are building your website. But if you already have a website, not to worry – you can still work on SEO.

Key Elements of Search Engine Optimization


Keywords are the words and phrases people type into search engines when they look for websites. There are several free keyword tools you can use to identify the keywords that relate to your small business. Read on to see how you will use these keywords.

Website Content

Your website should contain useful, interesting content that includes keywords. The better the content, the more likely people are to share it with others by posting links to your website. Regularly add content to your website to attract new and return visitors.

Website Structure

Ensure that your website is well organized. Don’t create complicated folders with names that don’t relate to the website. Give each page a short descriptive name that relates to the topic. Make it easy for visitors to find pages through a logical navigation system.

Meta Tags

This part is a bit technical… Your website code has several different types of tags. For example, the title tag shows the title of the page – it displays in the top left corner of the screen and in search engine results. Other tags that are important to SEO are meta, alt, heading, and keywords (Google doesn’t look at the keywords tag anymore, but other search engines do). The tags should contain content that is relevant to the page and include related keywords.


Use descriptive phrases that relate to the link content and include keywords when possible. Avoid using phrases like, click here. Include internal links to pages on your website and external links to other websites that relate to your business. Post links to your website on other sites. There are tons of options such as local business directories, social networking websites, blogs (leave a meaningful comment and link), bookmarking websites, press release websites, and classified advertising sites. Also seek opportunities to exchange links with other websites. Don’t put links everywhere just for the sake of linking to your site because this can hurt your SEO. Be selective and seek websites that relate to your business and industry.

Search Engines

The major search engines, Google, Yahoo, and Bing, continually crawl the Internet and will eventually find your website. If your site is new and you’d like to speed things up, you can register your site for free. It is also helpful to submit a sitemap (file that lists all the pages of your website) to the search engines.


Regularly monitor your website analytics as part of your SEO efforts. Look at the keywords people used to find your website. Check the traffic sources to see how people found your site. See which referring links brought people to your website. (Watch for a future post on Google Analytics.)

Final thoughts…

As you can see, search engine optimization involves a comprehensive, ongoing effort. I hope this article provided a good introduction to help you work with your Web Developer to begin optimizing your website.


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