If you have a website that you’d like to promote – for business or personal reasons – you’re going to need to learn about SEO. This is one of the most effective forms of online marketing you can engage in. Although the subtleties of SEO are very complex, the general principles aren’t that hard to grasp.
Search Engine Optimization Defined
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a broad category of online marketing techniques. Any step you take that can improve your site’s visibility on the search engine results pages can be considered optimization. SEO overlaps with other forms of marketing to such a great extent that it’s sometimes used as a synonym for the field as a whole.
Broadly speaking, there are two basic activities you do as part of an SEO campaign. The first is learning more about your market and your audience. This usually – but not always – takes the form of keyword research. Keywords are the search terms that people can use to find your website. Keywords can be chosen for SEO based on a variety of factors. You may try to improve your rankings on the most frequently used terms, or you might specialize in less-common terms where you’ll encounter less competition.
Once you have an idea of the keywords that you want to focus on, the other part of SEO swings into action. This is changing and updating your website to improve its performance for your chosen terms. You can make many different changes to achieve better search engine performance. Some of these, like better indexing and adding descriptive metadata, are done “under the hood” by altering the backend of your site. Other changes involve replacing, updating, or adding to the content you present to your visitors.
How SEO Has Evolved
When today’s dominant search engines were first starting out, the algorithms they used for ranking pages were relatively stupid. They could be easily fooled by simply repeating a phrase – a keyword – over and over again. Perhaps the most important thing you need to understand about modern SEO is this: The search engines are much, much smarter now.
Google and its peers have become so good at judging a site’s relevance that the best way to improve your ranking is to make sure that your site is relevant to your chosen keyword. A genuinely useful page that visitors spend time on and share are going to be ranked far better than one that simply uses keywords repeatedly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q) Can I Do My SEO?
A) Yes! The good news about smarter search engines is that they have reduced the impact of “black hat” SEO – unethical techniques employed by experts attempting to game the system. This means that an earnest attempt to build a relevant site will be looked on favorably when it’s time to assign rankings.
Q) Are There Any Risks To “Black Hat” SEO?
A) Oh, yes indeed. The constant danger of black hat SEO – optimization techniques that fool search engines into ranking a site above more relevant and useful alternatives – is that the search engines hate it with a fiery passion. They won’t hesitate to punish black hat SEO harshly whenever they detect it. Potential outcomes include having your rankings penalized or having your entire site de-indexed from an engine’s search results. This is why it’s important to verify that any SEO professionals you hire don’t engage in black hat tactics.
Q) Is Hiring An SEO Expert Worth It?
A) Almost – but not quite – always. As a relatively young technology-oriented industry, SEO (and online marketing as a whole) is packed with professionals whose abilities at self-promotion exceed their ability to deliver results. Before hiring an SEO consultant or firm, ask for objective records of their past accomplishments. You should also set out quantifiable goals for their work before letting them get started. Experienced professionals will be happy to help you do this. Go with a company with a proven track record like http://www.pdxseo.net.
Q) How Do I Measure The Effectiveness Of SEO Work?
This is one of the trickiest questions in marketing. If you’re solely interested in getting your website seen by more people, you can use your site’s traffic history to gauge the success your optimization efforts are having. Most people doing SEO have more concrete goals in mind, though. Calculating the ROI (return on investment) you get from your SEO work is something you have to do based on your chosen goals. Do you want to make more sales? Generate more leads? Drive a certain number of social media shares? This is, again, a task that a competent SEO expert should be able to help you with.
This overview is just scratching the surface of optimization as a subject. You’ll want to gather more knowledge before taking any steps to promote your website, especially if you intend to do your SEO work. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of useful resources available to you online. Be patient and study the topic diligently; you can pick up everything you need to know in time!