What Is SEO?
OK, let’s see a show of hands: How many of you are reading this book because you
want a #1 rank in Google? Yeah, we thought so. As SEO consultants, we know how
good it feels when your website makes it to the top of the heap. Listen, we sincerely
hope you get your #1 Google rank, but it won’t help you if it’s bringing in the wrong
audience or pointing them to a dead-end website. So don’t think of SEO as just a way
to improve your site’s ranking.
The term Search Engine Optimization describes a diverse set of activities that you
can perform to increase the amount of targeted traffic that comes to your website from
search engines (you may also have heard these activities called
Search Engine Marketing
). This includes things you do to your site itself, such as making
changes to your text and HTML code. It also includes communicating directly with the
search engines, or pursuing other sources of traffic by making requests for listings or
links. Tracking, research, and competitive review are also part of the SEO package.
SEO is not advertising, although it may include an advertising component. It is
not public relations, although it includes communication tasks similar to PR. As a con-
tinually evolving area of online marketing, SEO may sound complicated, but it is very
simple in its fundamental goal: gaining targeted visitors.
Do I Need to Perform SEO for My Website?
It may seem like a no-brainer, but actually, the answer is not necessarily Yes. If any of
the following examples apply to you, you may not be in need of an SEO campaign
• You have a website that you really don’t want strangers to find, such as a train-
ing tool for your employees or a classroom tool for your students.
• Your site is already ranking well, you’re satisfied with your sales, and you don’t
want to rock the boat.
• You’re in a big hurry—say, you’ll go out of business without a major upswing
in revenue in the next couple of months. This is not to say that SEO can’t help
you, but good SEO takes time. You may need to focus your energies elsewhere
• Your site is going to be completely rebuilt or redesigned in the next couple of
months. If that’s the case, read Shari Thurow’s book
Search Engine Visibility
(New Riders, 2002) about how to build a search-friendly site from the ground
up. If this is you, you’ll want to keep our book on hand, though, for use as soon
as your new site is launched. If this list doesn’t apply to you, we think you’re
ready to begin your SEO adventure!
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