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Search Engine Optimization

Elements of an SEO Strategy

Ian Lurie, Portent Interactive, Seattle, WA
April 29, 2003

Of all the areas of Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization is the most misunderstood, and potentially the most important to your marketing efforts. There are millions upon millions of pages of web content out there -- you can work hard, build a great site, and then be totally lost in the shuffle. SEO is important. It's also a very complex process that requires patience, careful planning and a long-term approach.

If you're just getting started with:

  • Selecting an SEO firm

  • Trying to start a search engine campaign on your own

  • Reviewing your current SEO efforts on. This article should provide you with a high-level review of the SEO process, dispel a few SEO myths, and help you understand legitimate optimization strategies.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, defies easy definition. But here's a short version:

Search Engine Optimization
Using keyword analysis and other legitimate practices to gain the highest possible search engine and directory rankings, under a given key phrase, for a given URL.

Every SEO professional in the world just cringed, so I'll break this definition down a bit and hopefully prevent a hail of angry e-mails:

Keyword Analysis is the process of mining keyword search data to find the best balance between the keywords you need and the best potential search niche. More on this later.

Search Engine means an automated search engine. 'Search Engines' include Google,, Yahoo (powered by Google plus their own directory information), AOL Search, Ask Jeeves and MSN Search. A search engine obtains its results from 'spiders' or 'bots' -- small programs that come to your web site read it in much the same way you would: By reading the content on a page, and then moving from page to page via links. A directory, on the other hand, is built at least in part by human beings reading sites and other information and deciding where each site fits into the directory structure. Yahoo's directory area and Open Directory are both examples of directories.

Ranking is the numeric rank reflecting your position in the results list when someone performs a search on a particular set of keywords.

Highest Possible means getting as close to number one as you can. Sometimes you just can't get that number one spot. Maybe someone else has a 400-page web site solely dedicated to the key phrase for which you're attempting to optimize. Or maybe they're paying a fortune in advertising. That's life, sometimes...

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