What is SEO?
Short for search engine optimization, the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a Web site by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. It is common practice for Internet users to not click through pages and pages of search results, so where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic toward the site.
How do I find out the best keywords for my Web site?
The "best" keyword depends on the following main factors:
1. The amount of traffic it will generate.
2. The difficulty of attaining a top ranking.
The amount of traffic it will generate.
When it comes to traffic, the best measurement is actual searches. This will tell you how many people search in a day or month for that term and it can be a great indicator. By far, the most popular tool for finding this out is the Keyword Suggestion Tool. This tool combines the two most popular ways of judging popularity, Wordtracker and Overture. In addition, it suggest related keywords and lists their traffic. Always remember however, that this is total searches. These search numbers will always be divided among the SERPs.
The Difficulty of Attaining a Top Ranking
If you simply chose the keywords with highest amount of traffic, you could still lose money. This is because these keywords typically warrant a lot more work to rank for. A perfect keyword is one that has a lot of searches but little SEO competition and moderate to easy to rank for. The best tool I have found for this is the Keyword Difficulty Tool created by Rand Fishkin. It will give you an indication of the amount of SEO work required which you can balance against the number of searches.
Which factors are considered unethical or black hat SEO?
Page cloaking is a BIG one, which basically consists of using server side scripts to determine whether the visitor is a search engine or a human and serving up different pages depending. The script would serve up a keyword rich, totally souped up page to search robots, while giving humans an entirely different page.
Linkfarms are considered black hat. Linkfarms are basically sites which consist of masses of links, for the purpose of getting rankings in search engines and turning a profit (usually off of affiliate program advertisements on the website).
Duplicate content can keep a page from getting indexed, and some people have even reported trouble with entire websites being duplicated by unethical webmasters, causing problems with their rankings.
Spamming keywords, in meta tags, title tags, or in your page's content is a black hat SEO trick that used to work well back in the 90's. It's long since been basically exterminated as a useful trick.
Linking to "bad neighborhoods", or sites that have been banned from search engines for using the above tricks, while not particularly black hat is definitely unhealthy for your own sites rankings.
What is PageRank and how does it work?
One big way in which search engines are granting importance to web pages are based on how many other sites are linking to it.
PageRank is a system implemented by Google that measures web page's importance with only taking into account the links and links related factors. The other big search engines (Yahoo, MSN) probably have a similar system but without an official measurement.
The basics are that each web page is giving votes to the links on that page and the power of the vote is determined by the number of links pointing to the page that gives the vote.
The votes are divided among the links on the page so the lesser number of links, the more share of the vote is given to each link.
Internal links are given a higher share than external.
The scale is between 0-10 but in fact it has many decimals which we cannot see.
0-3 is the most common, 4 is obtained by getting an amount of links and 5 takes some work to get. Only a short list of sites on the internet has PageRank 10.
How do I get my web site to show up in the search engines?
As you might have noticed the submit URL function on the major search engines does not really help that much.
The best way to get your web site listed faster in the search engines is to get links to it from authority web sites (those with high PageRank).
By getting a great link from for example the home page of an established PageRank 7 web site can make your new web site and it's subpages indexed in a matter of hours.
If this is not an option for you then other good ways is to put a link to it from big forums signature, directories, friends sites etc.
If you wonder why only the home page is listed and not the rest it is because the search engine spiders first visits one time and then comes back for a "deep crawl". To speed up this process, the solution is to get more links to your site.