SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a hot topic among marketing professionals. It’s benefits for start up and established companies are undeniable which has contributed to its rising popularity. In fact over 90% of companies that have an online presence optimize their websites to get a higher ranking on search engine result pages. This usually means more traffic and increased awareness and profit.
There are a lot of things that one needs to understand to reap the benefits of SEO. It’s important to know what it can actually do and the different methods consultants use to deliver results.
The various strategies used can be classified into three different categories, White Hat, Black Hat and Grey Hat.
This type of SEO follows ethical practices to rank high on organic searches. The focus is on quality rather than quantity.
When a customer visits a website to get more information about a product he expects to get details. If he was checking for a shirt, he would need sizes, colors and prints. A site with these will him make a decision on whether he would purchase or not.
Traffic will be useless if the visits do not end with a sale or at the very least a lead.
Effective Keyword Use
When search engines look for sites to recommend, one of the elements checked is its relevance. If the customer typed shirts, then the sites that have this would be part of the results. However, the process involves a lot of analysis, such as the keyword count and placement.
Search engines use a spider or web crawler to check the site’s content and relevance. So factors such as how many times the word is used to where in the site these are found are important to increase rating.
Quality Inbound Links
Links are important in determining whether the site being evaluated would appear on the results. These are considered as recommendations or referrals coming from external sites. White hat strategies use quality backlinks to increase rating rather focusing on just the quantity. This works well with the search engines as link analysis now includes a check on quality. So, if on the website that sells shirts, only the links from other sites that have related content would actually count.
This type of SEO offers faster results by using strategies that exploit the weaknesses of search engines. Despite the quick ROI, this method is often short term as search engines are able to eventually identify shady practices. This may result in penalties and can even progress to the site getting banned.
Keyword Stuffing or Spamdexing
Poorly written content can result in the keyword getting overused. In the early days of SEO, this could be used to increase the ranking on the results page. The analysis considered that more of the word used means that it is a relevant site.
This is a version of keyword stuffing. To avoid compromising the content by having the keywords appear multiple times, this strategy adds words that are not visible to the user. However, this affects the search engines analysis as the keywords are recognized by spiders. The simplest way this is done is by using text in the same color as the background to hide it from customers.
Using information gathered from other ranking sites is a common practice of black hat SEO. It takes advantage of the external site’s content to boost another site.
Doorway or Gateway Pages
This strategy targets search engines rather than the consumer browsing the page. SEO’s create fake pages that are linked to the website being optimized. These pages are never seen by the user as they are automatically directed to the landing site.
This method is used by most SEO’s as these deliver results at affordable prices. Although not quite crossing the line to black hat, the techniques used are beyond the boundaries of white hat.
By redesigning a website with still the same content, search engines are fooled into considering these as fresh content.
Over Utilizing Sharing
Many social media platforms can be linked to websites by sharing. These can be added to the site being optimized and clicked multiple times internally. Consumers and search engines will see the number of likes or shares and consider this as a relevant site.