A whole mega-industry has been built up around Search Engine Optimization or SEO so the term gets used, and over used, quite a bit.

The basic definition is that it is a set of techniques that help optimize your content so that it ranks higher in natural organic search results.

It is not however and should not ever be used, to trick or game search engines into ranking your site higher than it deserves to be.

Just remember, the Google giveth and the Google can taketh away!

So play nice with Google or suffer the consequences.

On Page SEO

On Page SEO simply means doing everything possible to help Google and other search engines know what each page of your website is about. This way, they will index the keywords that best describe your pages and establish the relevancy of your content accordingly.

Here’s a quick example. Putting the title of a blog post in an H1 html header indicates to the search engine that this is the title of the article and that the key words contained in it have the most relevance to the page. Put the same title in bold and Google will not understand that it is the actual title of the article.

Another good example is how to properly use pictures on your website. A picture may be better than a thousand words, but Google can’t read and index pictures. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you include text in the background that describes the picture so that Google can understand what it is a picture of and index the information accordingly.

Remember your site needs to be awesome. This is not the same as looking awesome.

If your site is loaded up with wicked cool looking graphics and lots of stunning video and flash, but you don’t take the time to optimize your content, then to Google it will look like a blank page. And blank pages aren’t relevant.

Off Page SEO

Off page SEO refers to the number, and quality, of inbound links to your site. This is probably the single most significant thing search engines use to determine the importance and rank of your site.

In order for your site to rank highly, you need to have other people linking to your website from their websites.

This is sort of like having the rest of the Internet vouch for you.

Creating high-quality remarkable content is the best thing you can do to convince other websites to link to you. But there are also other steps you can take to proactively build external links leading back to your website.

Link-building is the process of building links back to your website, and it is the primary aim of off page SEO.

What SEO Isn’t

There’s always the temptation to simply load up your pages with key words, use other tricks and even services that spoof Google into ranking your site higher than it deserves to be.

Don’t do it.

Focus on creating remarkable content, and then proactively optimize and promote it, rather than trying to out-think the million or so PhD’s who develop and maintain Google.

Although if you can solve one of these:

x = {q + [q2 + (r-p2)3]1/2}1/3 + {q – [q2 + (r-p2)3]1/2}1/3 +
Where p = -b/(3a), q = p3 + (bc-3ad)/(6a2), r = c/(3a)

Then by all means, have at the Google guys!

Optimize your content, and let Google do what Google does best. Organize your information for others to find.