To understand how internet marketing works, we have to understand how people use the internet to get information and ultimately to buy products.
Let's look at an example.
Suppose Bob likes biking, and he's either bought stuff off the Internet or would be willing to. Also, suppose Bob needs a new seat for his favorite road bike. He saw a great, high-tech seat on a bike in a big race he was in last weekend, but he can not remember the actual name of the seat.
How is Bob going to use the Internet to solve his problem? That is-find out the name of the seat, learn some more about it, then buy it!
The first thing Bob is going to do is search some very broad, generic phrase like "bike seat".
Bob's search results page will be divided into three parts. The top three searches that you see highlighted in yellow are paid advertisements. The ads on the side are Google AdWords ads. What you and I think of as the real results of the search start at the fourth row and continue down-and for this search continue through several more pages.
Considering that Bob is a "normal" searcher and reacts just the way "normal" searchers react, what he's going to do at this point is to click on a few of the top most organic links and see if the information on them solves his problem -which is finding that certain bike seat.
Very likely, Bob's not going to find that high-tech seat just from looking around the top searches on his very generic search "bike seats". So, he's going to refine his search. He'll do this by adding words to it, or by removing general words and substituting more specific words.
He might, for instance, search for "road bike seats". Or, he might go for "Italian road bike seats," or maybe even "Bianchi bike seats." But he'll refine his search until he either fails to find what he's looking for or has success.
Let's suppose Bob finds the bike seat he's interested in. What's he going to do next?
Again, if he's like most Internet users, he'll find his bike seat for sale by a few vendors, compare prices, and maybe even pull out his credit card and buy the seat.
So, to sum this exercise up. How does Bob go about finding his bike seat and buying it?
He does so through more and more refined phrases that he types into the window of his favorite search engine.
Now, let's look at this whole process from the point of view of a website owner-someone who owns a company that sells bike seats. (It makes no difference if the owner of the website is selling bike seats he / she manufactures, selling seats that are drop-shipped by another company, or just funneling visitors to another website for an affiliate commission.)
The internet marketer who owns the website wants to find the Bobs of the world. More Bobs, more sales.
So, the question is this: how can the internet marketer actually find Bob-or to put it a better way, how can she get Bob to find him?
By reversing Bob's search process.
If our internet marketer (let's call her Maria, for our example), could know what phrases people like Bob type into search engines to find stuff like she sells-high end bike seats-then she might could get a page on her website to rank in the top few listings when someone uses one of those phrases.
These phrases have a name. They're called "keyword phrases" -or "keywords" for short. (Note: "keyword" in internet marketing does not have to mean a one word phrase. It can mean a multiple word phrase.)
Being a savvy internet marketer, Maria identifies the keyword phrases searchers are already using to buy stuff like what she sells, and she writes her websites pages in such a way that Google, Yahoo !, MSN, and other search engines naturally place this page near the top of the results for these phrases.
This process of writing your page's content so that it has a good chance of ranking highly in the results for a particular search is called search engine optimization, or SEO for short.
Understanding this whole relationship between searchers, the keywords they use to search, and the webpages that show up on the results page is one the big keys to internet marketing.
If you know how searchers are going to find you, then you can structure the content on your web page to make it more likely it will rank highly for a particular keyword phrase.
As internet marketers, this reduces our task from finding buyers for our product to finding what keywords buyers are already using to find products like ours. We then optimize our website's pages for these keywords and let the search engines deliver the traffic to us.