What the heck is SEO?

I hear it all the time.  “What do you do?”  Well I’m an SEO.  “And what is that?”  Don’t get me wrong there are people who get it, or if they don’t get it, at least they know about it but the biggest hurdle for any optimizer is that constant question, “what is SEO?”

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, or sometimes Search Engine Optimizer.  The reason SEO is such a mystery is because even the best Optimizers in the world are not 100% sure how Google’s algorythm works.  We have a pretty good idea how it works, find some keywords, put them in the title of a web site, put them in the Header 1 tag, put them in alt tags and in the body of your content, maybe bold them, maybe italicize them, etc.

Your average web site is not doing these things, and so they contact an optimizer like myself.  What are the three primary reasons someone contacts a search engine optimizer?

1. They want to show up on Google.

Google has become synonymous with “search” and while Yahoo and Bing are important too, most people ask why they haven’t showed up on Google, the big boy in internet search.  Thankfully Google is pretty nice, they offer some really great tools to track the traffic your site gets, to analyze the keywords you’re currently popping up for, and to help you tell Google what pages on your site are the most important.

The SEO’s relationship with Google is not always a good one.  It is our job afterall to cater the content of a web site to get our site to rank higher than other sites, and in some cases dueling SEO’s have gotten in serious trouble with Google for breaking the rules about ethical optimization.

Image Freedom is what is called a “white hat” SEO group and while we probably would do some Black Hat techniques if we could get away with them, the risk of getting a web site blacklisted on Google is just too big, and we believe no one should ever take that chance.  Gotta play by the rules, or Mother Google will shut you down.

2. They want to show up on Google Maps

I bet you didn’t know that you can move the little Thumb Tack for your business and where it falls on Google Maps.  Have you ever looked something up only to find the needle across the street from the actual location?  Many businesses turn to an optimizer like myself to make sure their Google Maps entry is perfect.  This can be done for free through the Google Local Business Center but it does help to have someone on your team who has done it before.

On the other hand, sometimes someone has tried to setup Google Maps themselves and has hired me to put it back the way it should be, so they aren’t in the middle of a lake.  (True Story)

3.  They want to know which keywords to target

Content is king.  Coming very soon, Google will be putting even more weight onto the content of a web site and things like hidden keywords and classic Black Hat tricks will be a thing of the past.  When a marketing team decides to pursue a content plan, they will hire an SEO to develop what we call a Keyword Cloud.  A Keyword Cloud is many many keywords that are related to an industry and are scored based on the monthly search volume that word gets, and how many other sites are currently targeting that keyword.

This way, with your Keyword Cloud in tow, you can create content that follows the Keyword Cloud instead of just blindly making content.  Your content will come up in searches and your message will spread.  How often have you created content and wondered why no one ever found it?  It needed some keyword research.

So that in a nutshell is Search Engine Optimization.  It’s how you show up front and center on Google, Yahoo and Bing and the techniques and tricks to make sure it stays that way.

Does that make sense?