The simple definition of SEO or search engine optimization is the process and procedures used to gain the most visibility for a web page by being found on the first page of search engine results. We won’t go into all the details about what these processes and procedures entail as these details are covered elsewhere on this site.
What you should be aware of is why this is important. For that, we start at the reason for being for search engines in the first place.
The Web is made up of billions of pages on billions of websites covering every subject from A to Z. The function of a search engine is to find and categorize each of these pages. The best pages are rewarded with the most visibility. The most visibility is found on the first page of results as statistics show that only a small percentage of people actually click through to the second page of results. Each search engine results page has 10 web pages that the search engine found by crawling (that is visiting) a website and then categorizing that web page based on the words and images found on that page. Those words and images are then indexed by Google and are served to a searcher if they are searching for that information.
As of today, there are three major search engines: Google, Bing and Yahoo. Each of these engines has its own way of selecting which pages are the best pages to deliver to a searcher for a particular query (typed in the search box). Since computers do all the work, this methodology for picking the best pages and putting them in order of quality is left to a computer algorithm.
The reason you want your pages to be chosen as the “best” pages for search queries is that the “best” pages, as determined by the algorithm, get placed at the top of search results where the most people see them and have an opportunity to click on them and read about your product, buy your service or learn about your business, explore your point of view, or your get an answer to their question.
If you have a business or a goal, your goals will be more easily met if you rank higher. It is a statistical fact. Being number 1 or number 10 on page one can mean the difference between selling 100 widgets or 3 each month.
The reason you need search optimization for your site is because every other competing website wants those first 10 spots. They are actively improving and optimizing their site in order to earn one of those spots. Those sites are the best real estate in the world for whatever you are selling or whatever idea you want to communicate. They are that valuable, that coveted, and that important to the success of your endeavor.