How SEO Works
This is an extremely brief introduction to SEO. It aims to inform you what SEO is, but not to teach you how to become an SEO expert. Much of the SEO process is just hard work and learning from your errors.
If you do your own SEO you will still likely want to chat in SEO forums and read books on the topic before starting. Many of the print books can go quickly out of date, but if you ask around there will likely be at least a couple good guides which are commonly recommended.
What is SEO?
SEO is the art or science of gaining top search engine placement for relevant keyword phrases through making search engines believe your site is more relevant than your competition’s websites.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are terms or (more often) phrases you would expect someone to search for to find your website. With SEO you pick your keywords and create pages focused on them. You can only focus each page on a specific keyword phrase or few specific keywords. One of the best tricks to SEO is to gain traffic using many pages focused on specific terms vice focusing on broad single word terms. Specific terms are usually easier to rank well for and often have a higher conversion rate (since a longer query is often associated with greater searcher intent).
Using the Correct Domain Name
Acquiring links is important to rank well for competitive terms. When possible you want the links pointing at you to use your keywords in them. Other sites (especially directories) are more inclined to link to you with your keywords in the link text if they are also in your official site name or domain name. It is usually a good idea to use your keywords in your domain name when possible.
SEO Feedback Time Frame
When you search a search engine you are not searching the web. You are searching their cache of the web. It takes search engines some finite amount of time to find and properly index new links and pages.
If you are new to SEO (or are just beginning to do SEO on your website) it may take up to six months or more to gain a top ranking for a competitive phrase. If you work hard enough you can usually rank well for less competitive phrases in as little as a couple months