We all have heard conversations and read articles regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as scam, misleading efforts, or too much cost for too little! Then again, we notice that many companies engage fulltime online marketing experts to work on their online presence and to increase ranking of their web pages on search results! So what to believe or where to start?
Search Engine Optimization has its roots on various algorithms that search engines utilize to rank a given web page with respect to a given keyword/key-phrase. Google is winning almost 10 patents per day on various ways to index and rank contents over the Internet! Google (and almost all other search engines) state that they are improving their technologies to provide relevant content to searchers, with their own strategic guidelines! Optimizing content for search results mean using properly formatted, correctly programmed, and legitimately valuable content for end users to be indexed by search engines! There is no trick or smart way to optimize content except providing it in acceptable format. The level of acceptance is defined by numerous patented algorithms.
Content strategists tactically suggest aligning the overall content of a web page around a given topic. SEO experts look for relevant keywords/key phrases amongst the content of the web page to suggest relevant tagging (i.e. title/description of the page, headers, alternative tags, etc.) Various bots and spiders of search engines periodically explore the Internet for relevant web pages to discover, include in their database, and apply a weighing system (based on their algorithms) to the detected content. Likewise, search engines weighing system explores other possibilities to rank a web page (such as legitimacy of the web page, popularity of search criteria, in/out bound links, web page update history, etc.)
Other criteria that expert SEO marketers explore and employ would include implementing various traffic analysis codes (analytics), continuously ranking/ apprising on-page keywords/key phrases, engaging online users to interact – if applicable (such as commenting on blogs or contents, etc.) To increase popularity of a web page, an online marketer may interact with other social media users around the topic of interest and drive traffic to the site. Another definite traffic generation is online advertising campaign (such as ads on search engines, high-traffic sites, online directories, etc.) This effort has direct impact on the popularity of a web page, resulting in higher-ranking of the page and inclusion on higher real estate of search results.
Search Engine Optimization and online marketing is a blend of science and art. An experienced online marketer would apply a proven method (deducted from search algorithms) precisely where they need to be used efficiently. Of course other criteria affect SEO implementation such as continuous updates, content organization (easier for browsing experience), legitimacy of domain and business entity, pitched content (for end user), ease of access, structured content (eliminate ambiguity), error-free and technically compliant/standards-based, (relatively) acceptable performance, number of in-bound and out-bound links, etc.