SEO is no longer (primarily) about keyword placement and directory listings. Instead it’s classic public relations: modern SEO is about getting your site linked, promoted, and mentioned. If anyone tries to “guarantee” you a number-one listing, be skeptical. Very skeptical. Google themselves say it:
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings. —Google Webmaster Guidelines
Here are the three things you need to know about SEO.
1. If anyone is sending you spam about SEO, they are idiots and you would be an idiot to hire them.
Think about it logically. If you need to hire someone to help you with SEO, you would probably Google “SEO expert” or “SEO services” or “SEO consulting.” If the spammer doesn’t come up in the top-10 on Google when you search, then they suck at SEO. Shouldn’t their site be on the top-10 if they’re such experts? If they are so good at SEO and are drawing in leads from organic searches, then why would they resort to marketing via spam? Find an experienced, trusted web consultant to help you with SEO and educate you on how it works.
2. If you don’t understand SEO, then you can get in a lot of trouble.
I used to say “no one can guarantee placement.” But that’s not entirely true. I could probably guarantee your website’s placement under the search: Regina Landers hair loss bicycle coffee. But, seriously, would that be helpful? No. SEO is about increasing your page rank on keyword searches that matter to your business, not just “being number-1″ on some never-searched keyword jumble.
What if they guaranteed placement on my top keyword list? Well, they’re probably going to bombard the internet with a series of “black hat” tactics – like hidden text, blog comment spam, or spamdexing – to move you up the rankings. These “black hat” SEO techniques might get you to number one on your preferred keyword list in the short term, but they can do some long-term damage to your reputation. “Black hat” tactics are considered unethical, are often against search-engine guidelines, and can get your site blocked by search engines. The short-term, unethical rankings spike isn’t worth the risk to your valuable web property.
3. If you don’t understand search-engine rankings, then you could be wasting your time.
In order to increase your search engine ranking, you should engage in a strategic SEO program. Strategic SEO is concentrating on building “domain trust” — which is what search engines rely on to find your site. A site is “trusted” mostly by being linked to by other “trusted” sites. Like getting an article on the Huffington Post or a link to your site posted by an influential blogger. It’s classic public relations.
As your site grows and you begin building your reputation through good work, quality content, and your real and virtual social networks, then bloggers, magazines, and newspapers will start to write about you and link to your site. This is where domain trust is built and rankings increase. As linking increases, keyword-based SEO matters less and less. And, if you’ve engaged in “black hat” SEO in the past, you could seriously hurt your site’s reputation in the future.
Just starting out?
If you’ve just launched your new website, search engines have no history or domain trust for that site. There are no back-links from other sources, so search engines must rely on things like keywords, directory submissions, etc. These are important for a new site because they can be done quickly without relying on others. But, in a competitive marketplace, launching an integrated marketing strategy that includes SEO tactics will be much more important than keywords in the long run. So, get out there and get networking!
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