What is SEO?
Having a website is one step, but in order to ensure that it is found when people search for the topics you've covered, and shows up high in terms of search results, you need to optimize it.
Formally defined, SEO is the activity that makes a website friendly to internet search engines and results in increasing the traffic of visitors from them. Although SEO began by catering solely to search engines, experts recommend that SEO should include changes that appease the human visitor who browses through the site.
How Does it Work?
SEO is a philosophy that structures all aspects of a site from the quality and quantity of content posted, to the manner in which information is linked to other sites on the Internet. This involves identifying keywords for the web pages and spreading them sufficiently across the page for them to be picked up by search engine spiders.
Also, there are finer modifications such as having the web address and the title of the page written in a certain manner, including variations of the specific keyword about 3-5 times on the page and linking the page internally to other relevant pages on the same website.
Link building, the process of linking the site to other relevant sites on the Internet is known to play a key role in SEO. The thought behind this is that by linking well to other sites offering more information on the same topic, the SEO site gives the human visitor a broader spectrum of information.
Can I Do This Myself?
SEO is a skill that is extremely powerful but can definitely be mastered by an intelligent individual. The prerequisite is just that you have to do significant research on the various elements involved, structure your approach so that you can focus on many aspects simultaneously, keep pace with the changing environment of the Internet, and not get frustrated if results take time to show.
If you decide to do it yourself, run a simple search query on the internet for SEO and you will probably get a million results for tips, techniques and tools. A simple rule to follow should be that if the tip is good, the site offering it should itself show in the top results for the search you run. Give yourself sufficient time to read the vast information and keep a tab of the key technical terms that you will come across.
If you decide to hire a professional to help you with SEO, ensure that you review their previous work. While SEO as a concept is generic, the objective of a site can significantly change the SEO approach. For example, SEO for a blogging site with links to external ads will be different from a site that aims to sell its own products online.
How long will it take?
Patience is the key. Steer clear of services that promise you overnight results. These are generally cheap shortcuts that will not work. Even if they show an exponential increase in visitor traffic, your objective should be sustainable traffic in the long run; and traffic that helps you monetize by either clicking on your ads or buying products advertised on the site.
In summary understanding search engine optimization is intrinsically important to running a successful website, and there are many tools available online to help one on his way. However, the decision to do it on your own depends on financial budget, amount of interest and time available.