What is seo?SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, refers to the wide variety of strategies used to make your website more appealing to the search engines in the hopes of drawing free traffic to your site. Getting free search engine traffic is often called organic traffic, or natural search traffic. You don’t pay for it, and if you have the right mindset, you can continue to get large volumes of natural search traffic for years to come.

Unfortunately, when you first launch a website, you probably won’t have thousands of visitors pounding down your door, eating up your bandwidth, just to get a look at your content. When it comes to getting visitors to your website, you’ve got a few choices – two main ones include either paying for your traffic through pay-per-click advertising programs like Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing, or waiting around for free, organic traffic to find you through the search engines.

However, if all you do is launch your site and then sit around waiting for visitors, it could take weeks or months before the major search engines figure out that you’re even there at all, let alone send you any free traffic.

This is where SEO comes in:

You need to design your site and then promote it so that the search engines know what it’s about. That way they know how to categorize it, and when to show it in their search results. For example, if you have a page about windsurfing, should the search engines show it when a searcher types in ‘windsurfing boards’ or is it more related to ‘windsurfing techniques’?

And is your page better than other pages on the same search term or are there other pages that have better information on them?

The search engines need to take all these factors into consideration each time they show results to their searchers. The goal of the search engines is to categorize all the information on the web and rank it by its relevance for the search terms typed into the search bar. As you can imagine, there are a virtually infinite number of categories, subcategories, and further subsets any page on your site might fit into. And there are so many different variations a web surfer can type into the search engines that you could never list them all.

So matching up pages for the right search terms is a difficult job. And since that’s only part of their job it’s even more difficult. As already mentioned, in addition to showing relevant pages, the search engines need to show the BEST relevant pages first. It’s all about giving the searchers what they want. Which ultimately means you need to put yourself in the shoes of the web searchers and give them what THEY want. That way your site will rank high.

So what you need to do is help the search engines determine what your web pages are about and then prove that your individual pages are worthy of begin ranked high. That’s what I think of when I think of SEO. And I know you’ll see a greater level of success if that’s how you think of SEO too.

Top Search Engines:

Search engines come in all shapes and sizes – from Google all the way down to smaller niche-based search sites. Recent surveys estimate that as many as 10 billion search queries are made every day across all the search engines. Once you’ve set up your site, it’s important to get it ranked high in the big three: Google, Yahoo and Bing. Promoting your site to these three engines will give you a big leg up in making your site available to the majority of the internet searchers.

Google – According to Nielsen.com’s Net Ratings, Google receives between 53% and 62% of all the searches done on any given day, making it the largest in the search engine market by far. And as Google continues to expand its product offerings – which currently include everything from free email accounts to calendar systems and custom homepages – it’s safe to say that they’ll continue to be the dominant force in the search engine market for some time.

Yahoo – Despite Google’s dominance in the search engine market, Yahoo continues to receive a respectable 17-22% of daily queries – which is no small number when you multiply this out by the 10 billion searches occurring each day. In addition, Yahoo has been around for much longer than Google and carries significant name recognition in the search engine marketplace. Since many people still use free Yahoo mail accounts, it’s well worth your time to promote your site on this search engine.

Bing – Although Bing’s search engine receives substantially less traffic – estimated at between 9-12% of daily searches, it’s still worth promoting your site here since Bing is the default search engine assigned by Internet Explorer. Consequently, there are a number of people who use this search engine out of habit or for simplicity’s sake.

You’re probably also familiar with a number of smaller search engines, including Altavista, Lycos and Ask.com. For the most part, these smaller sites receive such a small percentage of search traffic it’s not worth checking your rankings on them. In addition, you might be surprised to learn that Google supplies the results for several search engines, including Netscape, AOL and the BBC’s search tool. Once you’re ranked with Google, you’ll start appearing in these other engines immediately.

Beyond the three major search engines, you might also consider seeking out micro-search engines related to your niche. For example, the website AardvarkSport.net focuses specifically on providing search results for sports enthusiasts, while other smaller search engines cater to people in countries beyond the United States. Depending on the product or service you’re promoting, you might find that these smaller search engines offer more targeted traffic than the larger mega-search engines.

So those are the most popular search engines. Fortunately, all you need to do is focus on getting high rankings in Google and to a lesser extent, Yahoo, and you’ll grab the most traffic. And in many instances, by ranking high in Google and Yahoo, you’ll rank high in most all the other search engines as well.

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