Of all the challenges that webmasters face, SEO is one of the most daunting. If you are unsure what it is, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, meaning how you as a webmaster can get Google, Yahoo, and MSN among others to rank your website in the top search results for the keywords you are targeting. When I personally approach SEO, I do not look at it as a single all encompassing thing. Instead, I break it down, into the 2 important categories that I can focus on.
In its simplest form, I like to divide SEO down into 2 more manageable areas. The first of two categories is On-site Optimization, and the second area, predictably is Off-site Optimization. Both are important, this is one thing many webmasters do not understand. Some of them preach that on-site optimization is truly the only important form of SEO, while others will tell you that off-site optimization is what will get you top rankings in the search engines. But the real deal is that they are both important, and you should not ignore either of them. So what is the difference between the two.
In a nutshell, On-site optimization is doing everything necessary to optimize your own webpage. Off-site optimization is the Link Popularity, Link Relevance, and anything else that is not a direct change to your own webpage. For a good example of just how powerful Off-site optimization is, Google the word failure. I am sure that George Bush is not optimizing for that term anywhere on the Whitehouse webpage. In my opinion, the key factors of SEO, in no particular order are:
1) Link Popularity and Link Relevance (Off-site)
2) Internal Linking Structure (On-site)
3) Content Relevance (On-site)
4) Crawl-ability / Code Optimization (On-site)
This may seem like I a dumbing down of the art of SEO, which in some regards it is. However, the key factors that I just mentioned above are the basis and are easily broken down into much finer detail, such as the kind that you may find in an in-depth book or report. One thing to keep in mind with SEO in 2007 is that getting high rankings on the Search Engines is not going to happen overnight, sometimes not even for months, just because you have optimized your webpage. If this were 7 or 8 years ago, then keyword stuffing and meta-tags would work just fine. But that form of optimization will just not cut it in today's competitive search engine market. This is no reason to get discouraged however. Just make sure that you utilize a balanced attack of on-site and off-site optimization, through utilization of social-networking sites, link partnering, quality content, text link campaigns and more.