“Search Engine Friendly” (SEF) is a term used to describe a website’s design, URL structure, menus, content management system, images, content, catalogs and other website elements that have been optimized for the purpose of search engine indexing.
For example, a search engine friendly URL for a widget on an e-commerce site might look something like this: http://www.widgetsRus.com/blue-widgets/large-blue-widget as opposed to a Non-SEF URL that may look something like this: http://www.widgetsRus.com/index.php?id=34567&cc=blue&size=lg
A search engine friendly page for the widget may have “Large Blue Widget” in the page title, and on the page itself. The images of the large blue widget may have image tags named “large blue widget”, etc. Whereas a non-SEF page title would read “itemID=#34567″, and the page may not have proper item descriptions, image tags, content placement, etc.
In a nutshell, Search Engine Friendly means that a site is technically structured so that search engines can easily read and interpret the content.
“Search Engine Optimization” (SEO) is the process of creating and positioning content on and off the website in order to improve the visibility of a website in the search engines. Having a search engine friendly website creates an easier foundation on which to build your SEO content.
A properly executed SEO campaign should start with keyword research to determine the terms people are actually searching on, search volume, popularity, profitability, etc. Once the keyword phrases are identified, the website is “optimized” by creating copy, articles, videos, blog posts and other content both on the website itself as well as on other online resources (off-page) such as blogs, social media sites, content sharing sites, indexes, directories and other off-page locations. Off-page content is also optimized for the target keyword phrases and includes links back to the main website. This aspect of the SEO process is known as “back linking” or “link building”.
Many web design firms often sell their clients on “SEO”, when in fact they are really performing SEF or simply on-site SEO. Optimizing a website is a rarely a “one-shot and you’re done” exercise. SEO is an ongoing process that involves continual keyword analysis, website monitoring, content creating and link building. Competition for the same keyword phrases creates volatility in the search engine results pages. The winners in the search engine war are the businesses that produce quality, keyword targeted content on a regular basis that position themselves as authorities on the subject.