SEO is an acronym meaning Search Engine Optimization.
Lets break it down word by word shall we.......
All of the above would apply in our case of SEO search.
Definition of SEARCHtransitive verb1: to look into or over carefully or thoroughly in an effort to find or discover something: as a : to examine in seeking something <searched the north field> b : to look through or explore by inspecting possible places of concealment or investigating suspicious circumstances c : to read thoroughly : check; especially : to examine a public record or register for information about <search land titles> d : to examine for articles concealed on the person e : to look at as if to discover or penetrate intention or nature2: to uncover, find, or come to know by inquiry or scrutiny —usually used with outintransitive verb1: to look or inquire carefully <searched for the papers>2: to make painstaking investigation or examination
It's number 6 that applies to search engine optimization in this case.
Definition of ENGINE23a : a mechanical tool: as (1) : an instrument or machine of war (2) obsolete : a torture implement b : machinery c : any of various mechanical appliances —often used in combination <fire engine>4: a machine for converting any of various forms of energy into mechanical force and motion; also : a mechanism or object that serves as an energy source <black holes may be the engines for quasars>5: a railroad locomotive6: computer software that performs a fundamental function especially of a larger program
Definition of OPTIMIZATION: an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible; specifically : the mathematical procedures (as finding the maximum of a function) involved in this
So lets recap.......
Search : : to uncover, find, or come to know by inquiry or scrutiny
Engine : computer software that performs a fundamental function especially of a larger program
Optimization : an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible
Search engine optimization is the process of making by design, as effective as possible for a computer performing a fundamental function of uncovering or finding......YOUR WEB SITE!
SEO is designing and altering your website so that its easiest for users to find on a Search Engine.
Now that we covered the technical aspects of things we can move on to what SEO really is!
Look for "What SEO really is" in a follow up post coming soon........
Part 2 - What is SEO really?
Part 3 - What to Expect from SEO?
Definitions from http://www.merriam-webster.com/