Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. The earlier and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO attempts to help a website achieve a higher ranking by employing various well established techniques. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, HTML, and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, news search, and industry-specific vertical search.
Search Engine Optimization Techniques
A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within “organic” search results. Depending on the client’s needs, circumstances, and budget – we employ one or more of the following:
- Cross linking between pages of the same website to provide more links to most important pages.
- Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrase, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries.
- Updating content so as to keep search engines crawling back frequently.
- Adding relevant keywords to a web page’s meta data, including the title tag and meta description to improve the relevancy of a page.
- URL normalization of web pages accessible via multiple urls, using the canonical link element or via 301 redirects to make sure links to different versions of the url all count towards the page’s link popularity score.
“White Hat” / “Black Hat” Techniques
An SEO technique is considered white hat if it conforms to the search engines’ guidelines and involves no deception. White hat SEO is not just about following guidelines, but is about ensuring that the content a search engine indexes and subsequently ranks is the same content a user will see. White hat techniques attempt to create content for users, not for search engines, and then make that content easily accessible to the spiders, rather than attempting to trick the algorithm from its intended purpose.
Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception. One black hat technique uses text that is hidden, either as text colored similar to the background, in an invisible div, or positioned off screen. Another method gives a different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine, a technique known as cloaking. Google has warned webmasters that they should prevent indexing of internal search results because those pages are considered search spam. Keyword stuffing is a black hat technique where a keyword is injected too many times in a page and marked as spam by search engines. Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether.
We obviously adhere to “white hat” techniques only, thereby pursuing the goal of more long-term ranking success.
SEO As a Marketing Strategy
As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. SEO may generate an adequate return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Their algorithms change frequently. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies solely on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors. It is considered wise business practice to balance dependence on search engine traffic with other marketing strategies.
Other Web Marketing Strategies
SEO is not an appropriate strategy for every website, and not the only strategy to promote a website or business. Other Internet marketing strategies may be more effective. A successful Internet marketing campaign may depend upon other factors:
- Building high quality web pages to engage and persuade.
- Setting up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure results.
- Improving a site’s conversion rate.
There are many ways to attempt to get traffic to a website. Promoting a website on other, more popular websites may attract relevant, targeted users. A business can increase the number of inbound links to its website by creating and publishing frequent press releases, by advertising on relevant sites, and by getting involved in online community discussions related to the business. Depending on the site’s goals, “pay per click” advertising campaigns on the major search engines may prove to be an effective option to increase traffic.
We are constantly researching and implementing new and improved web marketing strategies with our clients. The worst thing to do is to “do nothing”. In our experience, keeping up with constantly changing trends is what tends to lead to success.