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Search Engine Optimization Explained

What Search Engine Optimization is and why you need it

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your web pages "search engine friendly". This simply means structuring your pages in a logical manner so the search engines can crawl them easily. It also means "highlighting" your pages' keywords/phrases in ways that the search engines seem to prefer.

In a nutshell, Search Engine Optimization helps get web pages that are relevant to a particular search query ranked well in the search results pages when a user searches on that term.

Search Engine Optimization is not:

  • A way to trick the search engines into giving your web pages a higher ranking than they deserve for your desired keywords
  • A way to give your web pages an unfair advantage over those of other webmasters
  • A way to quickly boost a site's ranking in order to make a quick buck before the search engines find out and ban the site from their search results
Search Engine Optimization specialists don't optimize pages for any of those purposes - search engine spammers do. Google, Yahoo, and the other major search engines don't like spammers and they penalize or ban their sites any time they can catch them.

Search Engine Optimization makes the search results more relevant for a search term (good for the search engines and their users).

Search engine spam makes the search results less relevant (bad for the search engines and their users).

What are some valid Search Engine Optimization techniques?

Valid SEO techniques include:
  • Using the web page's main keywords/phrases in the page title
  • Using the keywords/phrases in the description and keywords meta tags
  • Using the keywords/phrases in headings (<H1>, etc.)
  • Using the keywords/phrases (in context) a few times in the body of the page content
  • Getting lots of links from other websites with the page's primary keywords/phrases in the "link anchor text" (the "clickable" part of the link)
All of the above are valid Search Engine Optimization techniques that will improve your pages(s) ranking(s) if used properly. 

What are some of the most common search engine spam tactics?

Some tactics that can get a site penalized or banned include:
  • Using hidden text and/or hidden links to artificially increase a keyword's "density" (in general, search engines don't like anything that is hidden from the user)
  • Cloaking, which simply means serving a keyword optimized (spammed) web page to the search engine robots in an effort to get the page ranked highly, then serving a different page with different content to human visitors
  • Cross-linking several of a webmaster's own websites in order to artificially boost "link popularity", usually placing a link on every page of every website to all of the other sites
  • Redirecting a page that ranks well in the search results to a different page that doesn't (and often isn't even relevant to the search term) 
Why do I need to use Search Engine Optimization techniques on my web pages?

Valid SEO techniques will help your web pages get the highest rankings in the search results that they truly deserve. This of course results in more targeted traffic to your website.

Valid SEO techniques also help ensure that the search engines return the most relevant results for a particular search term (a win-win-win situation for the webmaster, the search engine, and the visitors).

Why should I not use search engine spam tactics?

As explained earlier, search engine spam is completely different from Search Engine Optimization. The goal of a spammer is to "trick" the search engines into giving a web page a higher ranking than it deserves. This makes the search engine results less relevant and less useful for the searchers.

Naturally, the search engines dislike these types of practices and they routinely penalize or completely ban web pages and entire sites that use them.


Search Engine Optimization is good for the webmaster, the search engines, and the searchers. Search engine spam isn't.

For a free and comprehensive step-by-step guide to valid Search Engine Optimization techniques, we invite you to check out our popular SEO Toolkit!

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