Optimizing a website for search engine performance is not a fad and it is not a mystery. Good SEO is so valuable for online businesses that professional consultants are able to specialize exclusively in optimizing websites. So the question is: Do you have to hire one? Or is SEO something you can handle on your own? Here is the vital things you will need to do if you intend to tackle search engine optimization yourself.

First, and most important, you need to learn how the search engine rankings actually work. This encompasses both gaining a basic understanding and keeping abreast of changing trends. Update frequency and search relevancy were the first factors to affect search engine rankings. Now, search engines also check for keyword relevance and website linkage. Soon, the engines will be incorporating credibility data in their ranking process. You can see there is a lot of information to take in!

Another piece of background education you need to pick up is an understanding of the indexing process – something completely different from the rankings. The search engines can only present (and rank) results from webpages they have indexed. While you can get some pages indexed by request, what is far more important is how your website interacts with the automated programs (called "spiders") that build indexes automatically. A spider-friendly website will appear more quickly and more often in the indexes.

To return to a point from above, you need to master keywords to do your own SEO effectively. This includes knowing how keywords work from the search engines' point of view and learning what keywords are most effective for your business. The former calls for research. The latter can be handled with analytic tools that will show you which keywords are over-saturated or under-represented in your industry.

It is also important that you keep in mind that your SEO skills are like oratorical skills. They help bring people to your website; they draw attention. All the search engine optimization in the world, though, cannot improve what visitors find at your site. You should be sure your website's content is high-quality before you set out to boost it up the results pages.

If you already have an effective website stuffed with great content, you also need to look at how it is organized. The structure of your website (how you organize files into directories, for example) can have a big impact on its SEO performance. You need to settle on a fairly stringent overall structure and stick to it, and then tailor your SEO work to fit that structure.

Planning is important to any successful SEO effort. You should set firm goals for search engine optimization before you dive in and develop solid strategies for meeting them. While all good strategies have a certain amount of flexibility, ignoring the big picture entirely is a sure recipe for disaster.

Once you have your SEO work underway, you need to be able to gage its effectiveness. This involves more than reading your visitors counter. You will have to cultivate a thorough understanding of the more advanced analytic tools, so that you can tell why and how visitors arrive at your website. Armed with this information, you can make informed decisions about which SEO tactics are most effective.

So, this is what is really involved in doing your own SEO. It is not impossible to master, and many webmasters do their own, very effective optimization. Before you decide to join their ranks, though, it's best to know what you are in for. If the road ahead looks too steep, remember that those specialists are out there.