SEO is the short version for Search Engine Optimization. It is a means to let the search engines know what your website is about and to better inform your users of your content. In its simplest form, it means giving your articles titles that contain relevant keywords, making sure the article’s URL has similar wording, naming photos with relevant keywords, and of course, using the keyword and synonyms naturally throughout the written material.
Since a lot of SEO has to do with keywords, let’s explain what that is first. When you build your website, regardless of whether it is a corporate site or a hobby site, you have a specific topic or niche. A company that sells motors for cars needs to focus on the words “engines for autos” in order to let people know what their company is about. This is targeting a keyword.
In addition to making others aware of what they sell, a target keyword is used to gain a reasonable position in the search engine results. Having a website is not much use if it cannot be found. Therefore, one of the first goals of a company or even a hobby site webmaster is trying to make sure the site shows up in the search results. To do that, they employ search engine optimization, which is a way to fine-tooth the content and the technical aspects of computer coding on the site.
Today, there are many scripts and plugins that interface with CMS (content management systems) to add to the optimization of a site. However, they must be used with a grain of salt and must be closely monitored.
The problem with SEO is you can go too far in the other direction, which is no longer finessing content to make users aware… it is now considered over-optimization, which is a red flag that you are doing something wrong. An overly optimized website looks for trouble, as it can be penalized and even banned from the search engines. It has the feel of gaming the system and will be dealt with accordingly.
While we need to understand that SEO is not the only determining factor to get a good position in the search results, in its basic form, a properly optimized site is looking for organic traffic. This means, that the site owner hopes that one or more of the pages will rank highly in the search engines, so that users will come to the site naturally through the results selection process.
By getting organic or natural traffic, the site owner may not have to pay for traffic in order to make sales. It is like receiving free advertising.
But, this is where the temptation lies. Only a handful of pages can actually attain those top ranking positions. Thus, many people start to over-compensate and add more SEO techniques to the point where the site crosses the border from white hat to possibly black hat. At the very least, it can be considered gray hat.
To conclude, it is considered best practices to use search engine optimization techniques on a website. It would be neglectful not to make your site as available or visible as possible. Conversely, all site owners have to be cognizant of the fact that over-optimization is a real problem and a definite detriment to one’s business.
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