Every web site owner wants his or her web site rank #1 in Google, Yahoo and Bing. Although it can be very difficult to achieve #1 positions for a large number of search phrases, it is very possible to achieve high search engine rankings for a nice range of targeted search phrases if you do the right things with your web site.
The truth is that there aren’t any real secrets with SEO. The actual methods used may vary from one company to the next, but every experienced SEO professional should be aware of every legitimate method used. The difference between one SEO company and another is how knowledgeable the people are about search engines and how the techniques are applied. SEO is not something that is mastered in a year. It takes many years to understand the range of issues related to search engines and how and why their ranking algorithms reduce the rankings for some sites and boost the rankings for others.
Keep in mind that there are two general forms of SEO. There is white hat SEO that follows and adheres to the Webmaster Guidelines published by major search engines. These are the rules that must be followed to avoid penalties that may lower a site’s ability to rank well. There is also black hat SEO, which focuses on techniques intended to game the search engines. These techniques are a violation of search engine rules. To be honest, both techniques do usually achieve high rankings, but the difference is that black hat techniques only work until a site gets caught. Once a site has been identified as being in violation of the rules its pages are demoted in rank or banned (removed) from a search engine’s database. Once a site is banned, it can be very difficult to get it reinstated.
Anyone who has worked with multiple SEO companies has undoubtedly found some who will not share their methodology and cite “trade secrets” or “proprietary techniques.” A claim such as this would lead many people to believe that there actually are deep and mysterious secrets to achieving high rankings. A response like that should raise suspicion about the types of techniques being used with your web site. There are no trade secrets or proprietary techniques related to white hat SEO and any legitimate SEO company should be willing to explain everything they will be doing to your web site.
The Four Legs of SEO
Four major factors continue to work well and have remained unaffected by changes in Google’s ranking algorithms over the years. A web site cannot be fully optimized unless all four factors are used effectively. The fact is that a web site cannot be fully optimized without making changes to the web site itself. Most often, HTML title tags, content, linking structures and code changes need to be made in order to make the site attractive to search engine spiders. Each factor includes dozens of individual techniques.
- Proper Keyword Selection. Every SEO and AdWords campaign starts with proper keyword research. Ideally, this should be completed before a web site is developed, although in reality it is usually an afterthought. The proper selection of keywords that best represents the actual search phrases used by potential customers to find the products, services or information that you offer should be the starting point for every project. Those selected keyword phases become the keyword themes that will be used to provide focus for your web pages and drive targeted traffic to your web site.
- Unique, Focused Content. Unique content has always offered an advantage with search engines. Unique, Focused Content takes this one step further by building the type of targeted informational content that search engine spiders are looking for. Search engine spiders are computer algorithms who really do not care who you are or what you do. They are developed to gather information that will be used to satisfy users’ requests for information. Google’s recent Panda Update reinforced the need for good quality informational content that is unique. Content
isking when it comes to search engines.
- Quality Links to Your Site. Link building has been an important aspect of SEO for many years. A link is a popularity vote for a web site. However, over the past several years, Google has learned how to separate good quality links from poor quality links. Today, thousands of poor quality links may be useless for boosting a site’s rankings, while less than a dozen high quality links can propel a site into top rank positions.
- Good Site Architecture. Good site architecture means using code that spiders can easily read and dissect to parse out the information that it seeks. Good site architecture also means building an internal linking structure that makes it easy for both users and spiders to find the information contained in a site. While there are a few off-the-shelf solutions such as WordPress that are very search engine friendly, most web sites have been developed by people who have never focused on SEO. Existing web sites will likely need code changes in order to maximize the effectiveness of a web site.
When you select someone to work on your web site, everything that they do should be shared and explained in detail. Beware of trade secrets and proprietary techniques. When someone does not wish to tell you what they are going to do to something as important as your web site, there is usually a reason behind that refusal.