What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

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Hello. My name is Tyler, and this is the first post in my new, ongoing series: Back to Basics.

Our regular readers will be familiar with most of the information covered in this series. However, we have many first-time visitors who are just getting their feet wet. Although they are new, they are eager to learn. If you are a regular reader, you can help out the newbies by leaving a helpful comment.

Building Blocks
(Image Credit: Robbie Ewing)

Because this is the SEO Hosting blog, the question we most frequently receive from first-time visitors is “what is SEO?”

Search engine optimization (SEO) consists of two parts: on-page and off-page.

On-page: The first purpose of on-page SEO is to ensure that search engines can access a website’s content. Because search engines use robots to crawl the pages of a website, websites need to be free of technical issues that could interfere with the robots’ ability to crawl.

The second purpose of on-page SEO is to optimize website pages to rank well in search engines. While this purpose of on-page SEO has aspects that are still relevant, the overall impact of this purpose has decreased as search engines have evolved.

Off-page: The primary purpose of off-page SEO is obtaining links to a website from other websites. Authority and relevance determine the value of a link.

SEO practices are commonly labeled with a hat color. The intent of labeling is to show whether a practice is ethical (white hat) or unethical (black hat). However, while some practices obviously fall into one category or the other, the majority of SEO practices fall somewhere in the middle.

Until recently, SEO was commonly viewed by the public as a dark art or magic. A lack of public education, as well as misinformation or negative experiences with fake SEO gurus who were only skilled at making a quick buck through deception, caused this perception.

However, over the past year, two factors have lead to a more public acceptance of SEO. The first is the mainstream media’s realization that the Internet is not simply going to disappear. As a result, the mainstream media has begun embracing SEO to attract more visitors to their websites.

The second factor is the media attention given to Demand Media. Demand Media is categorized as a mass content producer that relies heavily on SEO to attract visitors. While Demand Media is commonly vilified by the media, the attention they have received has shown the public that SEO is now viewed as a legitimate practice at the corporate level.

If you are a first-time visitor and have a question about SEO, please leave your question in a comment. You can also email your question to me at tyler@copymoz.com.

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