Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is basically the art (or science) of making your web pages as attractive as possible to the search engines. There are various accepted things to do to your website that will generally help it appear higher in (or at the top of) the search results.
Searches are made when someone types a “search expression” into a search engine. Search engines generally return a page of around 10 results. So if your site appears in those top 10 results then clearly you will have good chance of someone clicking on that link and going to your site.
These positions (1,2,3,10 etc.) are often referred to as “search rankings” (not to be confused with page rank(ings) which is something completely different.
The page of results they appear on is called the SERP (Search Engine Results Page. And the whole of the search results are generally referred to as the SERPs.
SEO has been around as long a search engines have existed. Search engines are now dominated by Google of course but Yahoo and Bing still have a role to play and can be great sources of natural search results traffic.
The estimated number of searches that come from each search engine seem to vary quite a bit and can be different if you look at total searches compared to unique searches (actual number of people searching) but are generally quoted as around Google having 75% of the total search traffic and Yahoo and Bing having around 10% of the searches between them with the final 15% being made up from everyone else.
So which ever way you pitch it, Google is by far the dominant player in the search engines.
That can be both good and bad for anyone wanting to rank highly in the searches.
Firstly it means you really only have to optimize for one search engine. If you optimize for Google not only are you optimizing for the biggest chunk of searches but you will problem be doing most of what is needed to rank in Yahoo and Bing as well.
The downside is basically all your eggs in one basket. Google will penalize sites and remove their search rankings and even their entries in Google’s index if you break their “rules”.
So make sure you read Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines
One final thought, and something to keep in mind. Getting to the top of the SERPs is not your goal. Getting paying customers, getting more email sign-ups, selling more affiliate products or completing CPA offers is your ultimate goal. Getting to the top of the SERPs is just one part of that.
SEO can be broken down into a number of different tasks and these tasks can be grouped under a few main headings. For the purpose of this tutorial I have grouped SEO into the following