Many ebooks and other resources that business bevisible use will place an important emphasis on the need to be at the top of search results, whether that be on Google Search, other engines, or even in places like social media. But surveys have shown that people quite often will look at other results and they will scroll down through the page. Being on top of a second page, for example, can be quite beneficial for traffic. Also, search ranking is only one part of the puzzle. Now Google places other results on the page like social recommendations and local results as well, which means there are many more avenues open to you, and being first place is no longer as crucial as it once was.
Doing SEO simply means that you follow a set of techniques and procedures to increase the chance that web users will go to your site. It is true that anybody can learn these techniques, and if you are a web site owner and you want to do your own SEO then you can spend the time to learn and apply those techniques. But SEO can be complex and touches many areas such as online marketing, coding, technical aspects along with PR skills. Most business owners simply do not have everything required to do a great job at SEO, and that is why so many agencies exist that offer help. A simple IT worker or online marker is often not enough if you want truly good results.
It used to be that every page on your site needed META tags in order to rank well. Those are small pieces of code that would give Google a list of keywords and a description. The search engine would base itself on those to find out what your web site was about. Now however, those do not affect your ranking at all. Both Google and Bing stopped caring about META tags in order to index sites. However, they are not useless. For example, your description tag will be the text that often appears next to the link that shows up on the search result, so it’s still a useful piece of the action.
Back in the dotcom days, it used to be that the URL you used was very important. Google placed a lot of importance on the domain name, and if you could get a name that had your keyword in it, you would gain a big advantage over other sites. This is why a lot of companies in the late 90s bought domain names for a lot of money. But now, the indexing process only looks at the actual content of your pages, and not the domain name. That name is still important, because people still get to see it, but it will not make you rank higher.
All search engines used to have URL submission forms where you could send your site to Google and others. In fact, they still do, but that process is unnecessary. The crawlers that these engines use now are sophisticated enough that any new site will be found in a matter of days, if not hours. The only time you would have to worry about submitting your site is if for some reason it was not indexed automatically after a couple of days.
Google offers a webmasters interface and from there, you can submit a sitemap, which is an XML file containing links to every page on your site. Some site owners take the time to submit such a file every time they make a change, but that is not necessary. Submitting a sitemap does not change your rankings, all it does is add pages which may not have been indexed already. If your site is typical and has links to all of the pages, then it will not be needed.
Before the advent of Facebook and Twitter, SEO was the one and only technique to get traffic from an organic way. But now, social media is everywhere, and the line is quickly blurring between the two. While some marketers still consider SEO and social media to be different beasts, the truth is that they are very closely linked. For example, Google now places their own social network, Google Plus, into its search results.
If you can get enough influential people to talk about your product and link to your site, then their recommendations will show up in any Google search result that their friends does. This clearly affects SEO. On the reverse side, Facebook has started going after search as well, by recently introducing their Open Graph engine, which searches based on friends and interests. So the two domains are closely linked, and they are becoming closer all the time.
Some people think that by updating their home page content all the time they will rank higher, or by not updating it their ranking will drop. In most cases that is not the case, because if you have a sales page that offers a product, then there would be no reason to update that page unless something about the product changes, and Google expects that.
The structure of your page is seen by Google and other engines, but you have to realize that many sites are structured very differently. As such, no one specific tag has more value than another. An H1 tag is simply a header that corresponds to a CSS entry in order for the user to see your page a certain way. It does not make Google rank your page any differently if you use H2 tags instead, or if your keywords are mostly in the text and not in a specific CSS tag.