SEO = Search Engine Optimization, ie getting your site ranked higher so more people show up at your doorstep. In theory we’re interested in all search engines. In practice SEO = Google.
What's the difference between SEO and SEM?
While some people use SEO and SEM interchangeably, SEO (search engine optimization) is actually a part of SEM (search engine marketing).
SEO refers to the process of using on and off page factors (typically free) to get your web pages ranked for your chosen keywords in order to get more search engine traffic to your sites. SEM takes it a step farther to include using paid search engine listings and paid inclusion to get more traffic to your websites.
What's the difference between paid and organic search listings?
Organic search engine listings are the main results users see when they do a Google search. The websites appearing in the organic listings appear because those sites are most relevant to the user’s keywords. Indeed, most of these sites appear in the top of the search engine results because the webmasters of these sites have used SEO tactics to ensure top rankings.
The paid (or “sponsored”) listings usually appear on the top, bottom and to the right of the regular organic listings. Usually these are pay per click (PPC) ads, which means the website owner only pays when someone clicks on his ad (as opposed to paying for impressions).
This isn’t an either/or game. Just because you do SEO doesn’t mean you can’t/shouldn’t use PPC and vice versa.
SEO is not free traffic, it takes time and/or money to get good organic rankings but in the long run it’s usually cheaper than PPC.
What's on-page SEO?
On-page SEO refers to the things you do on your own site to enhance it’s ranking in the search engines. This includes but is not limited to:
- Creating content around specific keywords.
- Formatting/designing your site so that the most important keywords are emphasized and appear near the top of the page.
- Including the chosen keywords in meta tags.
- Including the keywords in the navigation menu and other links.
- Using your keywords in other parts of your site, such as the title of the page, the file name, etc.
- Using related keywords on the site (see the question on LSI for more information).
What's off-page SEO?
Off page SEO refers to those things you do outside of your own web pages to enhance their rankings in the search engines.
This is a glorified way of saying, “get links” and did I mention, “more links”.
How quickly will I see results?
If you target long tail keywords you can see results pretty quickly but always remember SEO is a long term strategy not a set and forget thing.
If you’re after more competitive keywords prepare to commit to it for at least three months of consistent effort.
Should I rank my own content or articles on other sites?
Yes – but let’s qualify that.
Because you can’t control what third-party sites do, you should focus the vast majority of your efforts on ranking content on your own sites.
However, you can leverage high-ranking third-party sites by posting SEO’ed content on them and then you including a link back to your own site. Not only do you get the SEO benefits of the backlinks, you’ll also get indirect search engine traffic from people clicking through to your main site.
(To be continued)