Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing a website through an extensive mixture of tasks that help improve a website’s presence on the search engines. So this brings up the question, “What is a Search Engine?” This question can easily be answered by asking you to get on the internet and visiting Google, Yahoo, or MSN. These are the most popular and Major Search Engines.
A search engine is an extensive database that uses algorithms (the way information is collected) to pull information quickly and efficiently, making information easily available. A person using a search engine will specify criteria (keywords/phrases) about something they are interested in for example “Real Estate”. When a person enters their search criteria into the search engine they hope to find information that is most relevant to the keywords entered. This is the main goal of a search engine, to give its users totally relevant results of their search criteria.
Now it is important to know how search engines work to understand the question “What is SEO?” Search Engines use robots or spiders, which are software that gather information and bring it back to be analyzed at the main Search Engine Index or in simple terms the main central database that stores all the information. This process in which the search engine spiders gather this information is called “Crawling”, or “Spidering”.
Here is the best way I could think of explaining this process. Imagine a spider family that needs to gather Food (in the case of the WWW think of food as the HTML text on your website) to bring back to the main spider-web (Search Engine Index “Database”). The spider uses a highway (HTML Links on Websites) to gather food faster and more efficiently.
Once the spider has gathered food, it then takes it back to the spider-web (Search Engine Index “Database”). Now the information is sorted out, and the Search Engine uses this information to help the user find what he or she is looking for. So when someone searches “Real Estate” the Search Engine will provide results that are most relevant from its database. Note: Search Engines are constantly changing the way their spiders collect information and how it is stored in their Index, this is why it is so important to stay up-to-date on changes and techniques.
Keep in mind that on the search engines there are sponsored links that are Paid Search results that usually are placed on the top, side, and bottom of the natural search results. This is a whole other subject called Paid Per Click (PPC) so keep in mind that SEO deals with natural rankings and PPC deals with paid rankings.
Now that you know what Search Engines are and how they work, you can now better understand what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is and how it can help you. Here is another good example using the spider analogy. Think of a person performing SEO (Search Engine Optimizer) to a website as the spider feeder. This professional will optimize the way that the spider collects food. In terms of a website the professional will optimize the website so that the Search Engine spiders will easily be able to gather the required and relevant information.