What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? What is SEO Services? Types of SEO and for whom SEO is suitable.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the visibility of a website on organic ("natural" or un-paid) search engine result pages (SERPs), by incorporating search engine friendly elements into a website. A successful search engine optimization campaign will have, as part of the improvements, carefully select, relevant, keywords which the on-page optimization will be designed to make prominent for search engine algorithms. Search engine optimization is broken down into two basic areas: on-page, and off-page optimization. On-page optimization refers to website elements which comprise a web page, such as HTML code, textual content, and images. Off-page optimization refers, predominantly, to backlinks (links pointing to the site which is being optimized, from other relevant websites).
An SEO service provider utilizes the practice of search engine optimization to increase the amount of visitors to a Web site by obtaining high-ranking placements in the search results page of search engines (SERP). Typically, a business will hire a service provider to improve its organic Google search result listings.
SEO services help to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found and ranked highly by the search engine. SEO service providers offer a wide range of packages and options for search engine optimization, ranging from one-time fees for smaller sites to monthly subscriptions for ongoing SEO efforts and support.
As the colors of the types of search engine optimization suggest, there are stark differences in the approach and long-term results of white hat and black hat search engine optimization. Though both types of SEO have their proponents, most companies/websites with long-term, stable, and sustainable goals will tend to stay away from the dark-colored variety.
Here is a quick overview:
|White Hat SEO||Black Hat SEO|
|Definition||White hat SEO utilizes techniques and methods to improve the search engine rankings of a website which don't run afoul of search engine (mainly Google) guidelines.||Black Hat SEO exploits weaknesses in the search engine algorithms to obtain high rankings for a website. Such techniques and methods are in direct conflict with search engine guidelines.|
|Wholesomeness Level||High||Very Low (not wholesome at all if you ask those in charge of cleaning search engine result page spam)|
|Techniques||Some white hat SEO techniques include: high quality content development, website HTML optimization and restructuring, link acquisition campaigns supported by high quality content and manual research and outreach.||Some black hat SEO techniques include: link spam, keyword stuffing, cloaking, hidden text, and hidden links.|
|What to Expect||Steady, gradual, but lasting growth in rankings.||Quick, unpredictable, and short-lasting growth in rankings.|
The work of most search engine optimization companies, however, operate in a gray area, aptly named Gray Hat search engine optimization. Whether by design or pressure from clients to deliver results, many search engine optimization companies try to deliver solutions and results for customers by utilizing techniques which don't quite cross the line into black hat SEO, but are well outside of what would be considered white hat search engine optimization.
Gray hat search engine optimization is recognizable by 'affordable' pricing, since the search engine optimization company has to reduce cost by resorting to questionable techniques in order to deliver results, instead of highly involved campaign activities.
In the end there is really no 'right' or 'wrong' way to do search engine optimization, but those shopping for SEO services should be aware of the different types and approaches so that they know the level of risk they are taking on.
Search engine optimization is often seen as a good way to avoid spending money on advertising by attaining high rankings in the organic search engine results. Not only is this not the true purpose of search engine optimization, it can, in fact, be a dangerous way to conduct business.
Search engine optimization should never be the sole means of marketing any business, because search engine algorithms are in constant flux, and any one of (on average) daily changes can impact a website's ranking negatively, to a point where the entire business can be put in jeopardy. So organic rankings should never be the sole source of traffic for any website that is being run as a business. With that said, search engine optimization can contribute greatly to almost any online marketing campaign.
As mentioned above, search engine optimization is not suitable for those who are looking to save money by getting away from other forms of online marketing. SEO is a long-term process, especially if it is to contribute in a tangible fashion to the bottom line of an online marketing effort. It is a mid- to long-term solution which does require a significant investment of time and treasure in order to bear fruit. So if you have just started an online business (or one that has an online component) and are looking a way to jumpstart your website traffic, search engine optimization is not for you. Instead of going into cumbersome paragraphs with unnecessarily detailed examples of for whom SEO is suitable, we have created the below table to let people shopping for search engine optimization services know if they are staring into a money pit.
|Is SEO Suitable for Me?|
|I just started a website and need quick traffic and don't have much money to invest.||No. Your effort should go into exercises which will produce short-term results for your business.|
|I just started a website but have an SEO budget for at least six month.||Maybe. As long as you are not looking to ranking for the most competitive keywords in your niche.|
|I am looking for an SEO company that can get me the same exact links that my competitor has.||No. Doing exactly what your competitor is doing will always keep you one step behind him. Even though your competition should be in your crosshairs in general, their success in rankings should not be the benchmark for yours.|
|I understand content is important but I like my website exactly the way it is.||No. If you are inflexible when it comes to changes to your website, the chances are that your site will not be able to improve rankings by much. If you keep doing what you have been doing in the past, you'll keep getting the same results.|
|I just started an auction website. I want to outrank my competitor (the leading auction site), for the word 'online auctions'.||No. Just like the corner grocery store that just opened is not going to be able to compete with the supermarket chain down the street by offering the same exact thing at higher prices, your new auction site will not be able to unseat the industry leader through the magic of SEO.|
|My friend just signed up for an SEO service and he is getting 500 directory submissions per month. I want that too!||No. Search engine optimization is not about volume. No matter what price your friend is paying for those directory submissions, he is overpaying. Cheap SEO is worse than no SEO.|
|I know I don't sell shoes, but the word 'shoes' has a very high volume of searches, so I would like to rank for that keyword.||No. Even if you did rank for shoes after spending a fortune on search engine optimization, you would still have abysmal conversions since the people who search for 'shoes' tend to be searching for...you know...shoes! (And not the blue widget you are selling that no one wants).|