Many people who aren’t too familiar with SEO (search engine optimization) think of the practice as something like a black art, a type of internet voodoo. However, the truth is that effective SEO practices actually produce high-quality web content that delivers the information people are searching for online. Simply put, SEO is the science of getting your site well-placed on search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
There are two main methods of using SEO to bring people to your site. One of these is optimizing your content “onsite,” which involves making the actual pages of your website more search engine-friendly. “Offsite” SEO is trying to get people to talk about you on the wider internet, such as on social media, to create a buzz around your site
White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO
If you’re among the set of folks who think of SEO as some kind of unethical trick, you’re probably thinking of spammy, keyword-stuffed pages that provide little to no value and whose only aim is to sell something. These sites generally use what’s called “black hat” tactics. Over the years, Google and other engines have become better able to weed out these bad sites and punish them, but their tactics might work for a short time before they are discovered. Common black hat tactics include:
- Mass submissions of your site to web directories and subscribing your site to many unrelated websites. Search engines reward websites that are talked about throughout the web, but if they find out that links to your site, which is about french fries, can be found on an automotive reseller website and a gaming website, they will assume that you’ve tried to cheat the system and you will most likely get punished for this.
- Hiding keywords on the pages of your website. Oftentimes “black hat” sites will copy and paste the same keyword over and over and hide these keywords behind images. The user won’t see the keywords, but the search engine will. Search engines will punish websites that use this tactic once they discover them.
So-called “white hat” SEO techniques, by contrast, are the suggested way of doing SEO, and search engines reward these practices with high search engine rankings. Some white hat techniques include:
- Proper keyword placement in text (a.k.a. “search engine-optimized text”), such that your content relates to the queries posed by people who search for those keywords.
- Regularly publishing new, interesting content relevant to your domain. When people not only visit but return to your site to read your content, you get a +1 from the search engine.
- Producing “offsite” buzz about your site. This could include leaving intelligent comments on other blogs that are related to your website/line of work. Soon, you’ll create a network of people talking about you, bringing natural traffic to your site and earning you a +10 from the search engine!
While this is a general overview of SEO, there are of course many other techniques to help your site climb in search engine rankings; ideally, we suggest working with an SEO expert to improve your site’s rankings.
When SEO is concern, you can do a lot on your own, but we always suggest using a well know firm like Affluences to help you organize your SEO campaign.
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