SEO - The Basics

Understanding Search Engine Optimization

There are two primary methods to get top positions within search engine results pages. Major search engines typically display search results as a combination of sponsored listings and free (organic) listings. So, you can either bid your way to the top immediately within the sponsored listings or "optimize" your site to appear within the free listings; this process is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.  The choice is yours, however, most successful websites use a combination of both strategies in order to dominate their competition and maximize their top positioning.

There are millions of searches a day on Google™ alone. Research shows that a large portion of traffic comes from search engines, but, if your site is not in the top positions, that traffic is not coming to you. It is a proven fact that people rarely go past the first page and hardly ever go past the third page of search results to find what they are seeking. That is why SEO is important to marketers, webmasters, or anyone that owns a website. Search engine optimization strategies enable you to achieve top positioning without a continuous payment for sponsored positions.

What are sponsored listings?

Sponsored listings are obtained when you pay (or bid) on a particular keyword or position within a search engine results page. These listings occupy a small portion of the search engine listings because usually, the larger portion is reserved for free listings.  See more about sponsored listings here.

What are organic (free listings) and how do I get them?

Free listings are the foundation of a search engine's credibility. Search engines spend considerable energy crawling the Internet and indexing website content so that when visitors perform a query, they can display what they have deemed to be highly relevant results. Each search engine has its own methodology to rank your website in order to determine the relevancy to any particular search term. All you have to do in order to rank high is to make sure your website is deemed relevant in the eyes of the search engines.

What are search engine optimization services?

SEO is an established process of improving how your web site interacts with search engines and thereby boosting your overall search engine ranking for free listings. Professional SEO involves many processes including research and selection of popular search terms (keywords), performing HTML code analysis, improving keyword density, enhancing content, enhancing page construction, testing, verification and submitting to search engines.  Finally, a linking initiative should be started to help gain inbound links to the website from other industry-related sites.

What is the benefit of search engine optimization?

There is usually a large amount of up-front work involved in SEO; however, the payoff is a long-term flow of free traffic. Free listings tend to have a higher click-thru ratio than sponsored listings. By achieving positions that are free, you can significantly reduce the amount of paid positions you maintain. Free listings tend to remain in place much longer; unlike paid listings that evaporate the minute you stop paying for them.

Search engine optimization services

Can you do the work yourself or should you hire outside
for search engine optimization services?

There are some considerations when making this decision and you will need to fully understand the concept and strategy of search engine optimization. Read The ABC's of Outsourcing SEO for more information. Simply, if your budget can afford an SEO company, hire one. Otherwise, be prepared to spend a few months just researching and learning before you even begin. And, be careful what you read - search engine requirements and methodology change by the day. Much of the information that exists may be outdated and you don't want to waste time backtracking.

What are the costs for search engine optimization?

The costs for search engine optimization services vary greatly primarily because of the marketplace, amount of work that is required for various keywords and the number of competitive listings that already exist. For some SEO companies, costs will vary based on the number of pages you need optimized. A few will also include the costs of search engine submissions in their price. Because of all these variables, prices can range from $1,500 to $15,000 or more to outsource SEO.

Article By:
Anita Schott,
SEO Expert and Contributing Writer
Instant Position


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