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The primary goal of any website is to attract attention to itself so visitors are able to read the content. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is how this attention is manifest. In this process, the content of the website is essentially "read" by the search engine. If the content meets a specific criteria reflected in the engines algorithm, then the site could have a higher page rank during searches by other individuals.
The term "keyword" as referring to SEO is used to describe specific words that appear various times within the content of a website. When someone enters a search term, that keyword is then compared to those websites on the Internet that feature such. In the past, individuals could load the content with a great amount of these keywords in order for the website to rank higher if someone was searching for such terms. However, this "keyword stuffing" is now looked at with great scrutiny and could hurt the rank of the website.
Backlinks were also a big part of SEO in the recent past. These links were placed on various websites in order to increase popularity. If a search engine analyzed the content of a certain site and found links back to another, that second website would get a small boost in page rank due to popularity. Now, search engines are looking for content from links that are relevant to the content of the originating website. For example: Links from a solar panel website article to a solar energy blog post are ranked higher than if they were aimed at a boat repair video.
When it comes to SEO, methods and algorithms of search engines change frequently. Sometimes the changes are major and the entire content of a website has to be reconstructed in order to continue ranking high in search results. These changes are considered improvements in order to weed out spammy websites that don't have relevant or quality content that could rank higher than a site that does.
In today's world, it is the well constructed content of a website that ranks higher as data is analyzed before and after the keyword in order to ensure that the information is relevant to the topic. Create the content naturally and the SEO methods will fall into place.