Search Engine Optimization is the method of writing subtext in HTML code that improves the likelihood that your web pages will be listed on the results pages of a web search conducted by anyone using a search engine like Google or Yahoo. Simply being listed is, in fact, not the only goal. Optimization implies that you would ideally like to be listed on the first or second page of results when someone searches the web for products or services that you are involved with.
Lets say, for example, that you are an art gallery with a website. Your goal may be to increase the traffic to your website, and ultimately, to increase the potential for art sales by exposing buyers of art to the kind of artwork you display in your gallery.
There are ways to write keywords and tags into the web page you are designing that remain invisible to the ultimate veiwer, and yet help search engines point the casual web surfer to your site. These “ways” come in the form of meta-tags, or keywords. Essentially they are descriptive words and phrases that are embedded in html code above the body of copy that becomes your web page. They exist only to help search engines identify what the content is on your website.
Search engines are are not a group of highly motivated individuals who devotedly scour millions of web pages and categorize them or rate them for content relevant to the search you might be trying to perform. They are computer robots, admittedly still instructed by real human beings, but instructed to search for links between the items being searched and the items already categorized by those keywords and metatags.
Search Engine Optimization then becomes the art of writing in order to be recognized by those robots and allowing your website to rise to the top of the list of search results. Using the example of the art gallery, you might use as keywords, such phrases as impressionism, abstract or modern art, or the mention of a particular artist, like Georgia O’Keeffe or Picasso. Embedding these phrases into the header of your webpages, allows search engine robots to identify the relevant content on your website to the web surfer seeking information on any particular topic of interest to them.
There are services which can be purchased to help you identify keywords and optimize you website, but Yahoo and Google both provide help in identifying the most popular search items (keywords) that are currently used for a variety of disciplines. Availing yourself of these aids is one sure way to improve the traffic to your website, and ultimately the potential you find for doing business there.