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Beginner’s Guide to SEO: 5 Common Questions

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a methodology of strategies, techniques, and tactics used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. You may never have heard of SEO, so to help you out, here are five common questions you might have about it.

How do the search engines find websites?
There are two ways search engines find websites to add to their databases:

  1. The first way is the most common. Search engines use "spiders" to move through web pages, following links from page-to-page on websites. So let's say your website has shown up on a search engine. The way your website appeared on the search engine is because a spider followed a link to your website through another relevant website. Search engines discover your website and index it.
  2. The second way is a direct way. Search engines accept submissions from website designers and optimizers. Generally, search engines will have a submission area, inviting people to send their website to appear for internet users.

Why is SEO important for website owners?
SEO is important because it saves you money and boosts sales. How does SEO do this? Well, it saves you money because you spend less on marketing. Thanks to SEO, you'll be receiving more relevant traffic through your website without extra effort. Anyone who searches for keywords relative to your website will find you and visit your website. On top of saving you money, SEO also boosts sales. Using SEO almost guarantees you'll make more money. You'll receive more traffic, which translates into more sales. The more traffic you get, the more sales you receive, the higher your rank on search engines.

How can websites be optimized?
They can be optimized by doing several things: 

  • Choose your keywords carefully. Certain keywords get better traffic. Using a keyword tool like can help you find terms that are used more often than others. Websites all over the United States use this tool to find more relevant terms.
  • Create a good title tag. A title tag is the first item that appears in the search engine results. Your title should be compelling, focus on what you're advertising, be unique, and fit the guidelines for most search engines. For example, Google allows you to have a 69-character title. Anything longer will be cut off.
  • Write a strong description tag. This description should be a short summary of what your website is about. You need something that will catch the reader's eye. A reader who isn't intrigued won't click your link. Try including text such as "Learn more here!" or other phrases to draw in more traffic.
  • Include keywords that relate to what you're marketing. However, you should also include on-topic information. The more you know, the more trustworthy you seem to an audience and search engines. Advertise as much as you know about your topic, but make your content readable, interesting, and informative.

Are there any risky SEO tactics that should be avoided?
There are some SEO tactics you should avoid. These are called "Black Hat SEO" techniques. 

  • One of the worst Black Hat techniques is called cloaking. This means using keywords and information that draws someone in, then having completely different content. Websites that use this method will be banned from search engines as untrustworthy. 
  • Another is link farms. Links farms are created when websites use hyperlinks to connect with one another to increase their rankings. The links won't provide any extra traffic to your website, but they are used to trick a search engine into ranking your website higher due to the number of partners you have. 
  • Article spinning is another huge issue when it comes to risky SEO tactics. This is when you use an article that has already been published online and change the content slightly to alter the keywords. Generally, the articles are unreadable, as they are for search engines rather than humans. Sometimes article spinning is merely changing the title of an article.

How can website owners learn more about SEO?
Website owners can learn more about SEO in several different places. However, one of the best places to learn about SEO is through popular search engines. Google is a good example of a place to learn. This website provides an article that answers several questions about SEO and even provides a step-by-step guide to setting your website up for Google's SEO. You can find the article here: 

Last Updated: December 29, 2015