When I watched Field of Dreams, the quote I left that movie with was "If you build it they will come."  Once the baseball field was built,  the ghosts found it.   When the World Wide Web was new,  that was fairly true.  Since the mid-1990's, there has been tremendous and explosive growth in the web.  Consider for a moment:  there are an estimated 612 million websites in the world, but only 185 million websites are active according to TechLogon.com.  

Certainly, a portion, as the article states, is going to be because of multiple domain names pointing to the same website, what with .com, .net, .info, .org and others being snatched up to protect brand identity, it certainly speaks to how there could be such a dichotomy of active versus inactive websites.   But in general, you have to kiss a lot of toads to find your Prince Charming – to find that one website that has the content that will answer your current question.

What is Search Engine Optimization
In short,  Search Engine Optimization is the practice of ensuring your website has content that is relevant to what people are searching for.   There are many factors that will help boost your SEO.  A few of them include:

Ensuring that you use appropriate keywords in your content to provide relevancy. 
Ensuring that you use appropriate page titles.
Ensuring that you use things like custom meta keywords and meta descriptions that are unique to each of your pages.
Google states that:
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Loosely translated,  Google attempts to catalog those 612 million websites and provide a tool that you can use to find content that is relevant and fresh to the search you are performing. 

How do search engines decide what is relevant?
Search engines, in general, are constantly adjusting their search algorithms to analyze the content of your website, provided of course that they know about it.  They take a look at your content and look to see what are the primary keywords that are in your content.  They, then, compare this information with the content in your meta data, Title tags, and images that you have on the page, they are analyzing.  When everything is in sync,  your content relevancy increases, and your seo ranking goes up.  

What can you do to improve your Search Engine Optimization?
It all starts with education.  But the big question is what sort of education?  What is out there to help teach you about SEO?  You can:

Buy a book -  If you search for "Search Engine Optimization books" on Google, you will find 12,900,000 search results.  How do you know which book is for you? 
Take a class – If you do a search for "Search Engine Optimization classes" on Google, you will find 7,650,000 search results.  How do you know which class is right for you? 
Pay Someone – If you do a search for "Search Engine Optimization companies" on Google, you will find 33,500,000 search results.  That's a lot of companies that offer SEO services.

Search Engine Optimization on your own
There is nothing wrong with doing Search Engine Optimization for yourself.  However, there are some pitfalls to doing this.  Search Engines are adjusting their algorithms all the time.  According to SEOMoz Google updates its search algorithm between 500 and 600 times each year, or more than 40 times each month.   A book on SEO could be out of date by the time it goes to press!   A good book on SEO basics is a must.  There are certain core parts of SEO Optimization that are never going to change.   
What about a class?  SEO classes are a good way to learn about SEO,  but the same thing holds true.  They are a snapshot in time of what the rules were at the time the class was put together, though there is a good chance that the class will be updated on a regular basis; especially when the classes are done by businesses.  College courses are also beneficial, but, for me, fall into the same category as books.  They will provide a good solid foundation,  but at the rate that algorithms change,  a college course will fall out of date very quickly. 

For reference books, I have always liked the Sitepoint books, they provide a good solid foundation on the subject matter, and tend to focus on the core of the subject matter.  

For online courses,  I prefer Udemy They offer courses on different subjects, and tend to be very good.

Of course, nothing beats going to the source!  Google offers quite a bit of information and training; There is the Google Starter Guide as well as basic information and webmaster tools to help with the work of SEO optimization. 

After you have your basics down and have implemented the changes to your website, your Search Engine Ranking will improve for a while.  But SEO is an ongoing battle.  After all,  between 500 and 600 changes each year means that over the course of the three months since you did your SEO overhaul, the search engines have modified their search algorithms around 120 times.   It's time to go back to the drawing board and understand what has changed, and what you need to do to keep your SEO ranking. 
Paying someone to handle your SEO
Recently, I was watching TV and saw an ad for a pharmacy (I think).  Essentially, it showed a doctor trying to do the work of someone else, and the question was, "You don't want your doctor doing your job,  why are you trying to do theirs?"  To an extent,  everyone self-medicates.  Have a headache?  Take an aspirin.  Heart Burn?  Take an antacid. Everyone has a bit of medical knowledge, and this allows them to handle basic issues.  The point is, no one knows your business, and customers better than you do.  You have good communication skills and know how to write content that your customers will be interested in.  You can self-medicate your basic SEO needs.  But, do you have the time to follow the current SEO rules to make your content its absolute best?  Do you want to take the time to keep with these changes?  Do you have the time to produce fresh content on a regular basis? 

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you may want to consider hiring someone to handle your SEO.  But, with 33 million companies doing SEO, how do you know which ones are the best, or which one is right for you?  

Once again, education and knowledge are key to the process of finding the right SEO company or individual.  If it sounds too good to be true,  it is; especially when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.  If a company is promising that you will be in the number 1 spot on a Google search, ask them what the catch is.  What I have found, in my experience, is that an SEO company will promise to make you number 1 for an obscure keyword that no one, or next to no one is going to search for.   Is the company willing to "put their money where their mouth is" for a guarantee like this? What is the company offering to back up their guarantee?  Are they willing to work to get your search ranking to number 1 for free if they haven't been able to do it within a specific timeframe? 

Other questions to consider when looking for someone to handle your SEO:

Is the company willing to provide base SEO training to you for when you add / edit/update content on your site?

If a company is not willing to provide basic training to you, or at the very least provide you with guidelines for adding / editing / updating your content, they are shooting themselves in the foot.  After all,  static and stale content does not rank as well as new and fresh content.  The SEO company is holding you hostage from doing the right thing.

Is the company only willing to SEO existing content, or will they collaborate with you to create new, fresh and relevant content? 

Fresh, relevant content is key to your site and any particular page gaining in SEO rankings.  I can hear you wondering about the fact that your website is going to become overly bloated if you have to produce new content for it each month.  This is not necessarily true when you start with a good focused structure for your web content.   Also,  you can add fresh and relevant content utilizing a blog.  After all, that's what you are reading right now!  This is fresh and relevant content to your search.  Whether you are a software development company, a Home builder or a florist, there are new advances being made, and new information that you can write about authoritatively while linking back to your corporate / business website.
Is the company willing to provide an SEO development plan?  Is the plan flexible enough to allow for quick changes when something good comes up?

An SEO development plan lets you know what to expect in coming months.  It also helps you to be ready when your SEO Specialist comes to you asking for "seed material" for new content for your site.  If you are providing the core material for the new content,  it allows you to stay ahead of the curve by having your content ready when the Search Engine Optimization specialists ask for it.

Is the company willing to provide metrics and information to validate the work they are doing for you?

How do you determine if the SEO company is doing a good job?  Once again, Google comes to the rescue with Google Analytics, a free metrics analyzing tool.  There are other companies that offer a similar service, some are hosted solutions, and some are services you install on your webserver. 
The Search Engine Specialist will gain insight into your company, and what keywords are important to you.  A good Search Engine Optimization Specialist will also investigate what keywords produce searches, and will also look for "niche keywords" that may not be searched for as often, but still have a good search basis.   In my experience, the best metric isn't how many visitors come to your site, but how many of those visitors convert into leads.   Of course, the more visitors you have, the more likely you are to convert leads.

About the Author: Carol James is an EssayLab psychology department writer and senior editor. She has MA degree in social sciences and is an excellent specialist in this field. Carol worked with numerous materials on the subject and is eager to share her knowledge with our readers.