What is SEO?
There are a lot of definitions of SEO but let’s face it, organic SEO in 2014 was about getting free traffic from Google, the most popular search engine in the world.
The art of SEO is understanding how people search for things on the Internet, and understanding what type of results Google wants to display to its users during these searches.
It’s Google’s job to make result manipulation extremely difficult, therefore they keep updating their algorithms in the back to make sure people can’t take advantage of loopholes which may exist. So it keeps moving the ‘goalposts’, modifying the ‘rules’ and raising quality standards for pages that compete for top ten rankings.
Google is very secretive about its “Spiders” or in other words the algorithms it uses, and offers sometimes helpful and sometimes vague advice, which some consider misdirection about how to get more from valuable traffic. Google is on record as saying the engine is intent on ‘frustrating’ search engine optimizers’ attempts to improve the amount of high quality traffic to a website using low quality strategies also known as web-spam.
At its core, Google search engine optimization is about keywords and high quality links. It’s about relevance, reputation and most important of all trust. It is about quality of content and visitor satisfaction.
Good Versus Bad SEO:
SEO currently falls into two specific areas, White Hat and Black Hat SEO. The proper way of optimizing any web site is to ensure that white hat techniques are adopted, and followed. Using Black hat techniques can result being banned from search engines, and leaving your site in the corner without ranking.
White hat implies that the company uses best practice methods to achieve high search engine rankings. White Hat SEO companies comply with search engine guidelines. You can learn more about the search engine guidelines if you have a look on google webmasters guidelines and the Penguin 2.0 update specifically.
White Hat SEO companies comply with search engine guidelines. The methods yield better results in the long run and efforts are steady and ongoing.
White Hat SEO companies take the time to research, analyze and subsequently re-write Meta tags, content and may offer a slight redesign of the website and page names.
What Is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat methods tend to achieve rankings quickly, but are not long-lasting. The methods used by Black Hat SEO webmaster or bloggers go against current search engine guidelines. There are many Internet SEO software companies out there and there are many tools as well with questionable results.
We don’t believe in Black Hat SEO for two main reasons: Black Hat SEO can get your site banned, so watch out! And it also needs hard work and time where you can place this time on White Hat SEO to have long term results. Black Hat SEO methods are the rat race of Web Traffic. There are the hackers or the pirates of our time.
Additionally, Black Hat Companies or bloggers will make promises such as “We guarantee #1 ranking on Google!” Unless their blog is steadily and after Penguin Update on 1st page ranking on google, they are talking rubbish.
How Can You Avoid Working With Black Hat SEO Companies?
- If they promise you #1 search engine ranking, don’t walk but run away! Not even Google itself can guarantee a ranking position!
- Did the SEO Company contact you? If so, you should question that, in and of itself, since most reputable SEO Companies are too busy to query website owners for SEO work.
- Ask someone to refer a good SEO company locally, or interview a company you find on the internet and find out how they operate. Always do your research and don’t trust blindly.
- If you don’t know HTML, you can ask someone you know who has experience with HTML to view the source codes on websites that the SEO company has optimized.
- If you find tiny text, invisible text or you notice that the page background is the same color as the font, then you stand the chance of having your page banned from Google Search.
- Get References!
With Google… It’s All About User Experience!
Web page optimization is about a web page being relevant enough for a query, and being trusted enough to rank for it. It’s about ranking for valuable keywords for the long term, on merit. You can play by ‘white hat’ rules laid down by Google, or you can choose to ignore those and go the ‘black hat spammer’ route. Most SEO tactics still work, for some time, on some level, depending on who’s doing them, and how the campaign is deployed.
Whichever route you take, know that if Google catches you trying to modify your rank using overtly brute force methods, then they will class you a web spammer, and your site will be penalized (normally you won’t rank high for important keywords). These penalties can last years if not addressed, as some penalties expire and some do not.
Google does not want you to try and modify your rank. They would prefer you paid them to do that using Google AdWords. The problem for Google is ranking high in Google organic listings is a real social proof for a business, a way to avoid PPC (Pay Per Click) costs and still, simply, the best way to drive really valuable traffic to a site.
It’s FREE, too, once you’ve met the always increasing criteria it takes to rank top. In 2014, you need to be aware that what works to improve your rank can also get you penalized (faster, and a lot more noticeably). In particular, the Google web spam team is currently waging a PR war on sites that rely on unnatural links and other ‘manipulative’ tactics (and handing out severe penalties if it detects them) and that’s on top of many algorithms already designed to look for other manipulative tactics (like keyword stuffing).
Google is also making sure it takes longer to see results from black and white hat SEO, and intent on ensuring a flux in its SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) based largely on where the searcher is in the world at the time of the search, and where the business is located near to that searcher. There are some things you cannot directly influence legitimately to improve your rankings, but there is plenty you can do to drive more Google traffic to a web page. Having this in mind, Google has 100s of ranking factors with signals that can change daily to determine how it works out where your page ranks in comparison to other competing pages. You will not ever find them all out. Some ranking factors are on page, on site and some are off page, or off site. Some are based on where you are, or what you have searched for before.
How To Choose The Best SEO Company For Your Business:
Here are ten key questions (and some guideline answers) that you should put to a prospective SEO company plus some questions they should be asking you too.
- What do you think about my site’s technical structure, on-page and off-page content and link profile? Ask them to make some observations about these three key SEO factors that influence Search Engine visibility in relation to your site, especially link building.
- What kind of changes will be required to your website and will they be noticeable? You should expect them to talk about on-page and off-page changes. On-page will require the subtle inclusion of the targeted keyword phrases in various locations on each page, off-page will require changes to your meta data such as your title tag and meta descriptions
- I know that developing an incoming link profile is important, how will you develop additional links to my site? You should be looking for them to talk about quality of links as well as quantity and a balanced link profile including publishing unique insights in your industry on leading websites, guest articles on relevant websites, a small number of high quality free and paid directories, local websites, government or educational institutions, your suppliers etc.
- Can you show me examples of your work? Don’t bother with references, no one will provide you with a bad one. You just want to see that they can point to current examples of their successes – short competitive keyword phrases such as “computer repairs” rather than “computer repairs for left handed plumbers”
- What volume of traffic increase is it reasonable to expect and over what time frame? There are a lot of factors to consider here but assuming your site is technically sound and has quality original content you should expect a 50-100% increase in quality traffic within about three months and potentially much more if your site is languishing
- What keyword phrases do you think should be targeted for my website? Not easy during an initial discussion but they should be able to identify the core keywords for your industry and let you know how competitive the segment is. They should discuss geographic considerations and talk about the “money” keywords such as buy, find, deals, get, compare, best, cheap or luxury
- How many people on your team? This just allows you to understand whether you are dealing with a small, medium or large SEO firm. Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses. Small or one-person firms can be great but may get busy with other more lucrative clients or they may struggle to keep up with the latest trends. Large firms can be like a sausage factory, churning out SEO in bulk.
- Who will be working on the assignment? Often you may be speaking to a Business Development person or the company principal. They should be experts and probably are, but once you have signed up, you should expect to be dealing with a qualified SEO expert with at least three years SEO experience
- How long have you been doing SEO? This is a general fact finding question but you might be surprised at the answers you receive and the way they answer. If it is less than three years, keep shopping around.
- Amongst all the SEO companies out there, in one minute, why should you choose them? This is giving them the chance for their “elevator pitch”. If they can’t confidently answer this, move on…and you would be surprised how many will stumble at this question.
Naturally, you should also ask them how much, for how long and whether there are any long term contractual obligations. You should also ask for a written proposal that clearly states every action and initiative that they will be undertaking.
Important Questions The Best SEO Company Should Ask You…
If they start asking you these kind of questions then you know you are well on the way to choosing your SEO provider.
- What are some of the keywords you would like to turn up for?
- Who do you see as your major competitors, online and offline?
- How old is your URL?
- Do you have a Content Management System (CMS) to edit your site content?
- Have you conducted any SEO activities before?
- Are you using Pay-per-click advertising?
- What do you expect from your SEO investment and over what time frame?
- Can you provide access to your web stats or Google Analytics account?
- Do you have any other URL’s or websites?
- What other marketing initiatives do you undertake, online and offline?
A smart SEO representative should also be asking you some questions. This enables them to evaluate you as a client. The very best SEO companies are busy and can afford to be selective when determining how reasonable your expectations are and how easy you will be to work with…SEO requires a partnership between client and provider to get the best results.
The Loan Consultants’ Lifetime Support:
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