Search Engines rely on clues from the web page they are crawling to gather insight on what the page is all about. Analyzing the content in context allows the Search Engines to determine whether the page may be relevant to a search request. There are many factors that are used to determine the relevance of the content to a specific search. Factors such as: Is the search a request for knowledge or a request for pricing information can help determine whether a searcher is sent to a shopping cart page or to an article explaining the definition, purpose, or principle of the search terms.
Search engine optimization (SEO)is part art, part science in interpreting what the search engines are doing when they analyze a page and then attempting to provide a more clear path to the search engine crawlers to help make it clear that your content is valuable and relevant to the search terms most likely being used to find the type of content your page is displaying.
Generally speaking, SEO refers to optimizing your website page content to show up in “Organic” search results. Organic search results are the sections of the search results pages that do not show sponsored ads. Optimizing your ads for the sponsored ads section is referred to as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or more commonly known as Pay-per-click or PPC Ads. Sponsored ads can link to any page of your website regardless of whether the content on that page is relevant to the ad or not. Having someone click on the ad is not nearly as important as having them take the desired action (commonly called conversion) once they arrive on that page. The goal would be to get as close to a 1:1 click to conversion ratio as possible.
Optimizing ads for SEM is significantly different than optimizing page content for organic search results and it is important to understand these are 2 different but complimentary strategies. They can be used in concert, or separately. Which you use and how you use them depends on your specific budget, strategy and/or goals.
There are many parts to effectively optimizing page content that will benefit the reader and also make it easy for search engine spiders (also known as “crawler”, “bot”, & “robot”) to determine what the page is all about.
Just as the search engines have changed the way they gather and analyze the information over time, so has SEO (search engine optimization) techniques. It used to be that you would simply try to place as many search terms as you thought someone might use throughout the body of your text. This made for good pages for spiders, but horrible user experiences.
As the search engines have become “smarter”, it is more important now to be sure your content is relevant to the subject. It should provide value to the reader and be in-depth enough so as to help inform, but short enough to be scanned easily and quickly for relevance so the page visitor can quickly determine that they have arrived at the right place.
The goals of SEO are to make sure that your pages are valuable and relevant to searches such that the Search Engines determine your page is very likely to be exactly what the searcher is looking for. These search results typically will be listed on Page 1 of the SERP (search engine results pages).
The goals of SEM are to get someone to click your ad and then be taken to a page where the desired action will be taken.
If you are not listed on Page 1 of the SERPs, either organically or via sponsored ads or both, then you most likely are losing business to a local competitor who does show up on page 1.