Answering the “What is SEO?” question is a conversation I have had many times. It encompasses a mulitude of disciplines within internet marketing.
What is SEO?: Explained
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of tweaking everything from domain name & URL structure through to content markup to present page information in a way that search engines will understand, categorize and rank accordingly.
An SEO’s primary focus is on the free listings that you see on search engine result pages (SERPs), SEO’s refer to these as organic search or natural search results.
What is SEM?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the practice of driving targeted relevant traffic to our pages through various other mediums including social networks, forums, blogs etc. It is a common misconception that SEO is spamming it is actually SEM in its worst form that is spam (irrelevant traffic driving techniques) such as forum spamming, blog comment spamming etc. SEM applied correctly aids our OnSite SEO when it is relevant to the conversation within any medium.
Editorial contextual links from relevant mediums within your niche (related content, blogs, social networks etc) are the gold dust SEMs are aiming for..
On Site SEO
There are several constants to On Site SEO that are reported to be ranking signals (through SEO community testing across millions of sites on approximately 200 ranking signals that the SEO community has attempted to categorize). While part of these signals are tweaked continuously through Googles and other search engines algorithms, they nevertheless remain constants, it’s only the weight of these signals that search engines turn the dial up or down on that change. If indeed they are the signals that the search engines use at all. There is no official point of reference beyond webmaster guidelines and they will never give up the goods.
It is only down to community testing that we can say with a small degree of confidence whether they play a part or not in the overall ranking of our pages.
Search engines rank pages NOT websites, it is the combined signals from these pages that improve the sites visibility coupled with SEM (Search Engine Marketing) that SEOs use to break down a site into the component parts to use as building blocks.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ SEO solution, every site is unique. Although you may share a niche with your competitors you need to stand out from that crowd.