A lot of people ask what SEO is. The short answer is that it is an acronym for search engine optimization; and the long answer is somewhat complex. SEO isn’t monolithic; the term refers to a number of different techniques used to increase the visibility of web pages and websites to search engines in order to make them easier for users to find.
Expert search engine optimization consultants offer services which are aimed towards this goal, including reworking the content of websites to make it more relevant to the overarching topics of the site or the particular page. They also do a variety of other work on sites which make them more readable by “spiders” or “crawlers”; the software used by search engines to index websites.
As a business owner, you may have some questions about whether professional search engine optimization services are something you actually need for your site. It is and I’ll explain why.
Suppose that you decided to make your business’ phone number unlisted. Of course you’d never do this; how would potential customers find you with no listing of your phone number or address available? When you don’t optimize your website for the search engines, it’s a lot like this. You can think of the major search engines as being like a phone directory – in fact, they have largely replaced phone directories for many consumers. If your site isn’t made easy for users to find with some expert search engine optimization techniques, it’s almost like it isn’t there at all.
Now of course, you have probably put a lot of work into making your site attractively designed and no doubt your URL is prominently featured in all of your advertising – so why am I telling you that your customers won’t be able to find you?
It’s because you can’t be sure that every potential customer will actually see your advertisements. There are always those who won’t see that newspaper or magazine ad or happen to be watching or listening when it comes on the television or radio – but everyone uses search engines.
Of course, having a website is no guarantee that your site will come up right away when someone types in a search term relevant to your business. This of course is where an expert search engine optimization firm comes in- SEO is the process whereby you make your site as easy to find as looking up your business in the phone book.
What Professional Search Engine Optimization Can Help You To Avoid
Sometimes you’ll see an example of a site which gets it all wrong in terms of SEO and web design. For example, sites which present their content as Flash animation. While there is a place for interactive multimedia content on websites, Flash should not be used in place of actual text content. Why? To answer this question, let’s return to the search engine crawlers for a moment.
The crawlers used by Google and other search engines to index your website and determine what the site is about don’t care about Flash animation, color schemes or much of anything else except for text -which is all they see. Using Flash as the means to deliver your content means that all Google will be able to determine about your site is this: that your site is there and that it contains Flash content; that’s it. It won’t be able to tell what the site is about or what sort of content it actually contains.
When your site is indexed, the crawlers analyze the content of your site. When a search is performed, the search engines scan through their database of web pages, ranking them in order of relevance to the search term used.
How exactly the determination works is a proprietary trade secret and the algorithms used by each of the major search engine is different. These algorithms are also being refined constantly; but through analysis of search engine results and a little reverse engineering enables expert search engine optimization consultants to determine what the most effective SEO strategies are at a given time.
This is why a professional search engine optimization firm doesn’t make guarantees about specific rankings within search results – SEO is a process, not a single task. It’s a fast moving world and no one can promise results with 100% certainty; but there are certain things which are known to work to improve the page rankings of websites.
Why Ethical Search Engine Optimization Is The Way To Go
If the search engines use the relevance of your content to search terms to determine ranking, then couldn’t you bring more visitors to your site by adding popular search terms to your site, whether or not they have any relevance to the actual content of your site?
Yes, you could – but only for so long. This kind of misleading SEO practice is known as search engine spamming and should be avoided. No ethical search engine optimization firm uses these methods and they can lead to your site being penalized or dropped from the search engine indices altogether; so even if you manage to fool the search engines and bring in more traffic for a while, the results won’t last long and you’ll likely end up worse than you started off.
These are some of the less than ethical SEO techniques which should be avoided:
- Dynamically created doorway pages;
- Hidden links/text;
- Duplicate content;
- Keyword stuffing with relevant or irrelevant keywords;
- Link cloaking and hidden redirects;
- Anything else used deliberately in the attempt to trick search engines.
Stick with ethical search engine optimization methodologies instead. The results may take a little longer to materialize, but they’ll be lasting and won’t result in your site being blacklisted by search engines.