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What is SEO ( Search Engine Optimization)?

Internet search has revolutionized consumer decision making forever. A large majority of consumers now rely on search engines, aptly called "reputation engines," to get information on products, people, and companies. Lower the ranking, lower are your chances of ever attracting a prospect, forget actually clocking a sale. Higher the ranking, higher the click-through rate, and bigger the sales opportunity (provided that you are optimized for the right kind of traffic/keyword query). On the flip side, a high ranking may not help, if it appears as part of a slander or a rip-off report! Today, no Internet marketing plan is complete without search engine optimization or what is referred to as SEO. Let’s take a closer look at this new-age marketing tool and why it is so important.

Simply put, SEO is the science (and as much an art, if I may add) of maneuvering or optimizing search engine results for specific keywords to one’s advantage. Business- wise, it is the best way to get the most relevant and qualified leads to your website. In some cases, it could even involve pushing up the favorable reviews or trying to bury the negative ones to make you look good. If you are wondering whether this is legal, it most definitely is, as long as the methods used and the intent behind them are. There is a very thin line between unethical and ethical SEO, but crossing that line can prove fatal for any business. Google and all other major search engines have the rights to blacklist any company found to be dabbling in dubious SEO practices.

How Does It Work?

Most standard SEO practices work on improving website design and popularity—the two factors that have been seen to have the maximum impact on search engine rankings. Website design is simply the structure of a website or what is known as "on-page factors," which allows it to be read and indexed by a search engine. On the other hand, popularity is about how you are viewed by peer sites (as measured by how many of them provide links to you) and their popularity in turn, referred to as "off-page factors."

So, theoretically one can try for the top spot in search engine rankings, except for a small problem—keywords. Different users type in different keywords and you cannot manually optimize your site for all possible keywords in all possible search engines. Difficult choices need to me made, basis competition for a given keyword and the possible benefit it carries for your business.

Benefits of SEO

While there is no syndicated study to quantify the exact ROI that SEO efforts provide, some obvious benefits are better control over online reputation as well as increased sales through more targeted traffic. Now isn’t that something every company wants?