Search engine optimization, or SEO, has become a common element of the business world. Though it might be better to say that the idea of SEO has become an active topic of discussion. In reality, proper SEO isn’t quite as common as one might expect. And much of this has to do with the fact that SEO is an active process. It’s not something which one can begin and then wipe their hands of after a certain amount of time.

SEO can be a rather complex topic. But thankfully once someone understands the best practices for SEO friendly content it can become quite a bit easier. The most important starting point comes from the organization. Not simply in terms of what one plans to do, but also the reasoning behind it. Basically, it’s important to keep track of one’s underlying motivation for any task. The main reason for this is that SEO is an active process with no real end point. One needs to continually evaluate the overall business plan in terms of new information or results.

Of course one can start out by considering the major search engines. A plan centering around how smart modern web engines are will start one off with the right mindset. However, this is also the point where many people feel as if their planning stage has reached its conclusion. When in fact, it’s actually only the very start of everything. The main issue behind the confusion comes from the term SEO itself. SEO stands for search engine optimization. So it’s natural to think of search engines as the main entity targeted through SEO design.

However, the main point of modern search engines is to read pages in a similar way to people. A decade back one would try to specifically target quirks in search engines. But today one needs to essentially assume that search engines are similar to another person who’s reading the site. It’s simply that the search engine comes with some unique importance in the overall scope of one’s endeavor.

Targeting an audience in this way ensures that both search engines and users get a full experience. Basically, one needs to assume that search engines are smart. As such, one should, of course, ensure that SEO practices allow search engines to read the full contents of a site. But beyond that, it’s vital to next work on getting the reader’s attention. One should try to promote an active participatory relationship to the page.

One isn’t directly selling to a search engine. But the search engine conveys a site’s intent. By setting the site to push a particular message or sale than the search engine can convey it to others as well. There’s also an issue of maintaining that involvement. Modern search engines take note of optional extras within a site. In fact, this can push overall rank of one’s site higher within most search engines. Having more than just a single service shows search engines that real effort has been put into the site.

The extras can take any number of forms. the from embedded social networking elements, maps, blogs or links to a forum. The important part is to offer ways for users to become more engaged with the site or brand. This works for users. And of course, search engines themselves won’t participate in any social element. But what they will do is take careful note that those elements exist. And this, in turn, can push overall site ranking upward. This doubles one’s overall return by helping with search engines and with direct sales.

The end effect of these efforts can be quite effective. The New York Times recently highlighted some examples, including someone who doubled their business thanks to SEO. And one should keep in mind that this wasn’t even taking many of the additional sales factors into account.

To return to an earlier point, targeting search engines is only part of one’s overall intent. Targeting search engines does improve ranking. And improved ranking brings more eyes to one’s site. But proper SEO also streamlines a site to the point where those new readers have added incentive to engage with the site.

In the end, one of the main points of SEO is that it’s not a singular entity or effect. Getting great results with SEO also means getting great results with direct sales. It brings in search engines and users alike. And when properly performed it even helps retain those users as returning customers.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.