Why you want to know what SEO means.

Last summer I, like much of television-watching America, was bombarded with commercials touting a "decision" engine that promised to cut down on irrelevant and off-the-mark responses to search queries.

According to the ad, I am not, in my overwhelming frustration at irrelevant search results, as unique as I thought. Evidently, many (most?) of us are accustomed to having to type and refine searches until we actually encounter what we sought. If I am to believe the ad, others also find it irritating to scroll through a list of links that are loosely (or perhaps, completely un-) related to the desired result. So it isn't just me who loathes being forced to navigate unrelated blog entries or archived reviews or the site of a similarly-named beer distributor in Wisconsin!

My point is: what do you know about SEO?

SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization," and it essentially means that if I were to search for your organization you would be one of the top results--ideally THE top result--that appeared on the results page.

Don't know if your website makes the cut?  Check it out.

Seriously.  Right now.  Google, Bing, or Yahoo! your organization name.  (Or try all three!)   Now search for the name of your latest show.  What about your organization and the word "gives" or "donate" or "fundraising"?  What about your organization name and "buy tickets"? What about if you search for the name of an artist currently working with or featured by your organization?  Now try "(your city name) (type of venue, e.g. gallery, theater, dance)."

If your website, and even more specifically, the pages within your site that contain the most relevant information, do not top the list of search results, take note.  SEO is an easily-overlooked element of your organization's presence that should be considered as important as the other steps that you take to stay visible.

What must you do to accomplish this goal?

Next week I'll demystify the process of optimizing your website for the search -engine crawler.  I will delve into the nitty-gritty about SEO and what you must do and be aware of to command some of the search engine spotlight.