Sure, you may know that SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” but do you know what that means, exactly?

If not, you’re not alone (and don’t worry, that secret’s safe in these parts!), but here are some tips to help with mastering the lingo of this digital strategy.  Just remember, it’s part art, part science.

What Does SEO Involve?

Search Engine Optimization entails all the strategies that help a web site achieve maximum visibility in organic (as opposed to paid) searches, in search engines like google, Bing and Yahoo (the top 3).
Those searches, of course are being made by people who want something specific — advice, information, brand, service or product. How will they find their way to right web site?

How Can Something Digital be Organic?

Organic search results are not food. They are those results that appear naturally, without manipulation in dollars and cents. Paid search results, funded by advertisers, are usually at the very top, in bold, and are identified as such. These are the links that advertisers pay to appear on different search engines, and are referred to as “inorganic.”

What are the Meta Title and Description? Do They Matter?

A meta title is the page title that search engines read, as opposed to the one on the page. Although meta data is not as significant as it once was, it can help to have a good, descriptive meta title.

Similarly, a meta description is a description of your site that search engines will read. It should be a brief summary of the page’s contents. The meta title and description are what searchers see when looking for whatever they are looking for. Make them compelling, so they’ll click instead of moving on.

What About Keywords?

SEO works best when a single keyword or phrase is repeated throughout the content, especially towards the top of the page, italicized, hyperlinked, bolded, underlined, or as part of a section heading.

Do not repeat it more than five times or so, though, unless the article really needs it. Otherwise search engines may flag the page for “keyword stuffing,” a form of search engine spam. If you use a key phrase (instead of just a word), such as “macaroni salad,” try not to use the words “macaroni” or “salad” separately anywhere else in that page, as it can dilute the key phrase pairing. Trying to have multiple key words or phrases in one page can also dilute SEO. Aim for one per page.

Keywords or phrases in meta data should always be repeated in the content as well. It doesn’t hurt to include it in the URL either. When writing about cupcakes on the site, a good URL would be, when possible, but don’t devote excess stress to this concept. Try to use solid keywords or phrases, but not the most popular ones on the World Wide Web. Trying to optimize for “music” could be futile, whereas something like “Angry 80’s music” might actually be seen.

What is the Deal with Linking?

Internal links are links in an article or post that go to another article or post on the same site. A type of cross-referencing. Inbound links are those that come from other web sites to internal content, outbound links are those that link to other sites. All three types are important to SEO. Internal links tell search engines that a web site is coherent, with related interlinking information.

Inbound links tell search engines that other publishers consider the content worth sharing and referencing, outbound links to high-quality, expert sites tell search engines this site cites high quality references and experts.

Yes, it’s more fun when you get all ‘Minority Report’ with it.

Does SEO Require Programming?

No. Most content creation systems have WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) platforms and fields where meta data can be inserted. The content aspect is an editorial function. Although there are some best SEO practices for writing code and programming, SEO relies heavily on quality content as well.

What do Search Engines See?

The robots.txt page tells search engines which pages of a site to index or “crawl.” Go to YOURDOMAIN/robots.txt to find that page. The sitemap.xml file is the index of all pages on a site. Search engines use it as a quick reference of what should be searched. Search engines crawl a site, indexing what they “believe” to be important for entering into search. Go to to see what pages are being indexed.

Should Images be Labeled?

Search engines will index images when the alt text is present. This is just one more way of possibly getting eyeballs on a page and yes, it can contribute to SEO.

How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

Some sites see immediate results. It depends on a number of factors, including quantity, quality and popularity of content, competition, size of site, internal, inbound and outbound links, and more.

Should I Hire an SEO Pro? 

Only hire a definite pro. Someone who does it wrong can cause reverse-SEO, even getting a site banned from the search engines. Make sure the expert hired has many accessible and positive references and reviews in the field of SEO.

All these tips can help, but the human touch is ever important. Thousands may land on a website but are they finding what they want? Do they become customers?

Focusing on sale conversion is more important than number of hits. Think quality over quantity.