SEO (search engine optimization) is one of those internet catch-phrases that has taken on an almost mystical meaning, with proponents of the magic, both white and black magicians, offering their services and panaceas everywhere you go online, often at a very high cost, both up-front and postponed, as your site gets penalized by Google for shady SEO practices.

And the reason is obvious – it does make a huge difference in your website’s success whether you show up in the first five search engine returns for the appropriate search phrases!

But SEO, for most businesses, is not a matter of hocus-pocus and large consulting budgets – it basically comes down to common sense.

Google wants to sell ads for top buck. The value of Google ads is directly proportional to how many people use Google as their search engine. The reason so many people use Google is that it delivers good results: when searching for “surfboards” you get sites that have lots of surfboards and information about surfboards. So Google is very interested in the quality of your content and its relevance to the search, lest its users drop it for the new guys.

To do well in Google search returns you have to let Google know what your site is about with the appropriate content, correctly presented. If you wanted to sell surfboards, to continue the analogy, you’d want to make that clear to Google by employing the right domain name (surfboards.com would be good) and theĀ  right content (most important – lots of information about surfboards) in a clear, standards-compliant form.

That, in a nutshell, is the key to real SEO – fresh, current appropriate content.

Of course, targeting your niche market and appropriate search phrases are also part of the equation. I will be providing more information about how to improve your site’s position in future posts.