Search Engine Optimization – Important Online Marketing Techniques
If your website isn’t getting enough traffic, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the primary ways to remedy that. Using a search engine to your advantage can be the difference between your website driving customers to your door or being left to collect cobwebs. Before purchasing search engine optimization services, you should have at least a basic understanding of what it is and how it works. If you don’t have a rudimentary understanding, start by reading some of our articles on SEO Basics.
If you understand what SEO is and you are ready to have your site optimized, read on.
There are two approaches to SEO – an ethical approach and a not-so-concerned-with-ethics approach. The first is known as “white-hat” SEO and the second is referred to as “black-hat” SEO. The line between them can be blurry sometimes but understanding the underlying philosophy of each is important when selecting an SEO consultant and an SEO strategy.
Black-hat SEO refers to SEO techniques that most search engines would consider “gaming the system”. An early example of black-hat SEO was to repeat a keyword hundreds of times at the bottom of your homepage with the text set to the same color as the background of the page. Humans wouldn’t even see the text because it matched perfectly with the background but, at the time, the search engines paid no attention to text color, so they would gladly gobble up all the text and finding that it contained a lot of instances of a particular keyword, would give the site great ranking for that keyword. The problem was, the search engines considered this to be gaming the system, so it wasn’t long before they started to make changes to their algorithm to check whether text was the same color as the page background and, if so, to ignore it. Some search engines would even penalize the site for this technique and in other cases the site might be removed from the search engine altogether (banned).
Black-hat SEO is like spam. Most people consider it unethical and obnoxious, but people wouldn’t do it at all if it didn’t work at least some of the time. The problem is that you are paying to optimize your site in a way that is likely the search engines will penalize you for at some point in the future. You can game the system, but it’s just a matter of time before the game is up. Most people consider black-hat SEO techniques to be a bad investment.
White-hat SEO, on the other hand, includes everything you can do to improve the quality, reliability and awareness of your website. Doing things like writing more content, reducing the load time for your website pages and seeking links to your website from reputable sources are all examples of white-hat SEO techniques. The good thing about these types of techniques is that it is unlikely you will ever be penalized by the search engines for making your site better!
Having an understanding of these basic search engine optimization approaches enables you to better select an SEO consultant and understand the services you are receiving.