Search engine optimization, in simple terms, is an Internet marketing strategy that strives to improve rankings and visibility for a company. It is successful when a website is ranked high on a search engine’s first page.

Businesses benefit tremendously from having their websites appear first on a popular search engine such as Google or Yahoo. When this happens, it not only increases user convenience, but also builds a good reputation or image for the company. If you own a business and want to gain more customers, utilizing organic SEO practices is an intelligent decision that will confer an extra layer of legitimacy on your enterprise and improve user experience.

With all of the advantages of SEO, however, some people have taken unnatural approaches to getting their sites ranked high. In 1997, search engine designers noticed that webmasters were attempting to artificially influence the rankings by engaging in a practice known as “keyword stuffing.” This is when webpages are filled with excessive—and sometimes irrelevant—keywords in order to raise that site’s or page’s rankings for those search terms. During that time, very early search engines such as Altavista and Infoseek had to adjust their algorithms to prevent webmasters from abusing keyword stuffing or SEO manipulation.

What happens when a website is overstuffed with unnecessary keywords? For one thing, potential customers can easily see that the content of the website is not organic—or, in other words, natural—which can drive them away. We’re all familiar with spam, and that is how an overstuffed or manipulated website can appear. This is damaging because, despite a business having an excellent product or service, customers don’t want to visit a spammy website.

The alternative to this bad practice is organic search optimization, which is the process of delivering natural search engine placement.

One of the most important parts of organic search engine optimization is doing keyword research to see which terms are ranking the best. The goal is to target relevant keywords that will generate the most hits. Copywriting is another crucial part of SEO, as fresh and original content ranks higher and does not appear as spam, but rather as targeted information for a specific audience. Link building is also important, since having your link published on other websites is another good way to build traffic.

When it comes to generating leads, overstuffing keywords can dramatically lower your chances of SEO success and could even result in a penalty. Organic SEO is the way to go in order to gain customers and keep them, as well.