SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation is the art and science of attaining higher search engine placements in search engines. It's a complex subject which has evolved and developed since the late 1990's. For reference it's also known as organic search and free search engine optimisation
Basic principles of SEO
In its simplest form SEO can be categorised into five segments.
Technical - This commonly refers to the technical elements that make up a webpage. This area falls between the lines of Web development and SEO optimisation. Most web developers know the basics, but more often than not building a website that is aesthetically pleasing and functional for a user, is a different skillset to one that performs well for search engines. A detailed technical SEO audit is an important healthcheck for a website, it should be done at minimum quarterly, before a launch of a new website, and before/after a site migration.
Relevancy - Search engines overall aim is to return results that are relevant to a users search query. Search engines use various elements of a webpage to understand what the content is about, ranging from the <title> tag, headings, meta data, body content, alt text etc. As this is easily influenced the different it makes isn't as strong as some of the other factors.
Reputation - This is how strong search engines perceive your website is on the web. This is derived from the number of links pointing to your website, and their importance online. This is the hardest to influence, and therefore carries proportionally more weighting than other areas of SEO.
Navigation - The internal hierarchy and how you structure your website is important. In our experience this is often not thought about at all, and has to be retrofitted into a website at a later date.