SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is both the bane and boon of many a person’s existences. It’s a known fact that the best way to get traffic to your website is by simply having your site show up on the first page or two of the major search engine’s results. Visitors from those search engine results pages (referred to as SERP) have two main things going for them. They are more likely to buy, and they didn’t cost you any money to get there. Getting your site onto those first two pages can be a struggle, and people are always watching what you are doing and gunning for the top spot. You have to keep aware of the latest tactics and methods and measure yourself against your competitors.
Yes, competitors. Many people aren’t aware of the competitive nature of SERPs positioning, but it is. Keep in mind that you are ranked in comparison with the other sites in the results. If the search engine thinks that your content is more relevant, you rank higher; if it is determined that your content is less relevant, you fall in the results. If they know what they are doing, the other sites showing up for the searches you wish to rank high in are watching you, and the other sites on the first two pages to see what they are doing and if they are rising or falling.
So how do you ensure that you can rank well against the other sites and rise in the SERPs? Well, for starters, let’s assume that there are only three search engines because, frankly, Google, Yahoo!, and MSN (in that order) represent the majority, the vast majority of searches. And Google represents the vast majority of those three. For this article, we’ll focus only on Google. If you do right by them, what you do will be suitable for other search engines and Soul Crazy.
Before we go any further, you must understand the nature of SEO. It is not an exact science. The exalted minds inside the Googleplex do not share their secret sauce with the unwashed masses. The reason for this is simple: if they revealed precisely how their logic works, it would be exploited–this has happened before. The methods for performing SEO are based upon the trial and error of many, many internet users as they worked out what works, what doesn’t, and what will get your site unindexed – or worse: banned.
This is important. There are good and bad ways to optimize your site. The wrong ways are called ‘Black Hat.’ Sure, they may work for a while, and some Google can’t (or doesn’t bother to) pick up automatically. However, you can report a site to Google using Black Hat SEO tactics, and Google will remove that site from the index (meaning it won’t show up in search results). Removing a location from the index is usually only done for a certain amount of time and can be appealable. Banning is far more severe, and banned sites are often gone for good with no way to get Google to add it back to their index. Beware of a lot of things that seem shady. If you think they are shaded, the chances are that the folks at Google will think so too and if one of those other sites in the SERPs wants to rise up and they visit your site and see your shady tactics, they won’t hesitate to report you.