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SEO: What it is, and What it isn't

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process or task of tailoring the content & possible structure of a website toward what Search Engines "like" and what Searchers (people) are searching for.

SEO is not a black magic that turns websites into money. SEO is a long term process with many small adjustments after the initial content rewrite/reword.

Why do they reword my content? I wrote that. It's good!

You'll no doubt be aware from your own internet searching, that you mostly need to provide context to your searches. Either by allowing your location to be known, or adding in the location to the search. Consider the search "builders". You could get builders in many a far off land in your results, but you don't (usually) because the Search Engine estimates your location based on your IP Address and possibly your GPS location (if allowed). Therefore, it believes it's providing more appropriate results.

Therefore a phrase in your content that references your location, like "builders in Blaxland" or "Faulconbridge Builders", would be a more appropriate phrase to have in your website content than simply "builders". But you can't go crazy. You shouldn't turn every word on the page into a phrase someone could search on. Why? Because websites are still a platform intended for human consumption. So make it simple for them to consume, not harder.

I've seen some heavily SEO focused text in my time, and it made it bulky and awkward to read. It was a technique is called Keyword Stuffing. This is included in a number of frowned upon techniques that have been used over the years. But most of them actually incur a ranking _penalty_ if detected. Like I said above, website are for humans eyeballs, not search engines algorithms.

Content isn't all SEO people look at. They do a number of other things such as create links pointing to your website from well established websites to infer the trust search engines have in that site over to yours.

Ok, but it's been a whole week, why aren't I first in Google?

SEO isn't instant gratification, nor is it set & forget. SEO is a long term strategy. Website results won't go from zero to hero overnight. External factors can impact your websites performance too. Your website's competition in search engine results are also tinkering with their SEO too. Occasionally search engines will adjust their algorithm and suddenly SEO practices that used to help your results, will hinder them.

Speaking of results, did you know they vary per phrase / term? There will be certain terms that your SEO provider will define prior to any agreement being signed. These terms will be what they measure their success on - otherwise they cannot meet any stated or inferred guarantee to get your website to the first page of a Search Engine. (You should definitely review those terms / phrases before entering into any agreement.)

But more than that SEO can't really be measured with position on Google anymore. A searchers device type, location, previous search history, and whatever else the search engine knows about the searcher get included in the compilation of the results. Meaning that you and I will see different results almost always.

Oh great! :( So how do tell if it's working?

Look at traffic. But make sure you have some sort of analytic service on your website before you start, or you will have no baseline, and no way to verify any claims of success. You should also find more people coming through the avenue of your website. Google Analytics is a very big entity in this space, but there are other services that measure traffic.

Lastly, don't forget Bing! At the time of writing, Bing is the source of information for not only Yahoo! search results, but also Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana.