Not matter how well I try to explain it, it is a complex subject. I should have started the first post explaining why you would want to learn that. There are a lot of easier things to read.With some people questioning the usefulness of SEO, this is a good time to make my views clear. Please note that I believe in a solid marketing mix that includes SEO, PPC, SMO, affiliate marketing, viral marketing, etc. Do not put all your eggs in one basket.
If you have been blogging for a while, you have probably noticed that you are getting hits from the search engines for words that you did not try to optimize. For example, the next day I started this blog, I received a comment from a reader that found my blog through a blog search! How was this possible?
I found your blog in google blogsearch. Needless to say I subscribed right away after reading this. I always suspected what you said, especially after Mike Levin from hittail blogged about using hittail for ppc, but you really hit the nail on the head with this post.
This is possible because that is the job of the search engines! If every page you search had to be optimized, there wouldn't be billions of pages in Google index. It would take a lot of people to do the SEO work :-).
Why we need SEO then?
The answer is very simple. Not all traffic means money. If you want to make money, target competitive terms, build your brand, etc. you need to select your keywords strategically. You cannot expect search engines to rank your site in high profit niches, automatically.
Well, maybe you are that lucky.The traffic that is highly valuable is probably very competitive. It is very difficult to rank for competitive terms with no effort in direct optimization. Why? Because, others are already optimizing for those terms. When there is no competition you can rank very easily.
Why learn Google internal workings and other advanced information such as patents, research papers, etc.?
Again, I only recommend this if you are targeting competitive terms and markets. If you are happy with a few hundred clicks a week, you probably don't need this. Advanced knowledge gives you an edge over your competitors:
1. You can read and participate in forums and blogs and know what information is useful and what isn't.
2. You can easily find solutions to your search engine related problems.
3. You can tell if a proposed theory is possible or not.
4. If you are a black hat, you can more easily find new holes to exploit and schemes to pursue. If major search engines keep their internals so secret, there is a $reason$.