UPDATE: Buy my e-book, "Website Findability: How to get Traffic from Google and other Search Engines.
On a recent Google search on "search engine optimisation", I noticed that many companies take out adverts offering this service.
There's an inherent irony here, as companies that claim to be good at optimising should’t have to advertise. But then, the majority of surfers wouldn’t know this. So here’s my attempt to aid the education process (and maybe even prevent one or two people from being ripped off):
Optimised sites are those that contain the right choice of keywords and keyphrases, in the right amount and with the appropriate formatting, so as to boost their listings in search results. This is sometimes called "natural" search engine optimisation (SEO), though that's something of a misnomer when it comes to Google.
On Google, there's no "unnatural" or alternative way to optimise a site. Google doesn't accept payment in return for guaranteed positioning. Instead it offers adwords – those classified-style ads you see on the right hand side of Google’s results.
But if a company has to take out an advert to say that it offers natural search engine optimisation, that doesn't say much for its SEO services.
Not that I can talk – my business site doesn’t show up very highly for a Google search on search engine optimisation … yet. But I do quite well for a search on findability. No prizes for guessing which jargon I'm backing...