Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimizing a website so that it appears high on search results, which will improve your online brand visibility and better connect you to your target audience. SEO is a very simple concept to grasp, yet can be extremely tedious to execute. Properly optimizing a website requires a 3-prong strategy:

  1. Technical SEO
    Technical SEO is the foundation of proper site optimization. This includes code review to ensure that your site is not getting penalized by search engine such as Google, checking for plagiarism and duplicate content and overall code efficiencies. A well optimized site ensures that it complies with strict W3C and ADA standards.
  2. Inbound SEO
    Inbound SEO is all about the quality of your content. Your website needs to be unique in the eyes of search engines with “evergreen” content and have the right balance of specific keywords and meta-descriptions. Writing a blog is a great way to keep content fresh and of value to folks searching for you.
  3. Outbound SEO
    Outbound SEO uses external sources to convince search engines that you have relevancy and to drive traffic to your website. Connecting with social media, directory listings, and partner sites is critical to effective outbound SEO. In fact, one of the most important criterion used by Google when determining site relevancy is the number of external webs page that link to your site.

The effective deployment of these strategies will ensure that you are giving your website the absolute best chance to prove its relevancy. Just for starters, if you would like to assess the current status of your website’s popularity use the Site Info Analysis Tool at Alexa. Alexa places its criterion on your overall site traffic and pages-viewed-per-visitor to determine you website’s global popularity by assigning you a rank number. The lower the number, the more popular your website is. Although this data is a rather simplified “Big Picture” snapshot of your website metrics, it can be of tremendous value when comparing your Alexa ranking with those of your competitors. I strongly suggest you try it. Is your Alexa rank on par with your competition, or are you trailing badly behind? For organizations that do not actively employ SEO strategies, the answer can be extremely disappointing. Fear. Disgust. Resolve. But where to begin?

The appropriate action is to hire an SEO agency. Sure, you can take the time to learn all about these strategies, learn how to code and maintain your blog with evergreen content. SEO is not rocket science, after all. In fact Google WANTS your site to be properly optimized so that their customers (site searchers) can find the content they are looking for quickly and intuitively. Google even offers an SEO Starter Guide on their website. Google is not the enemy, your SEO agency is. Wait, did I actually just say that???

Yes.

See, here is where the problem snowballs. You are behind your competition in search results, sometimes not showing up at all for keywords that are absolutely critical to your organization. You start to panic. You consider a crash course in SEO and placing the burden on yourself, but you quickly realize how ridiculous this is. You have your business/organization to attend to, there is simply not enough bandwidth. You decide it’s high time to make the hire and go with an SEO agency. This is the right choice, but be leery of one dubious term:

Black Hat.

Ever since search engines opened their doors there has been a game of cat and mouse between SEO agencies and search engines. Google, for example, is constantly updating their search algorithms in order to make the web an open and honest platform. They want their search results to reflect the true relevancy of the company or organization, thus providing the maximum value to their users. SEO agencies, on the other hand, are not looking for a level playing field. They were hired to improve search results for their customers, SOME of them are willing to do so at any cost. Enter Black Hat SEO.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black Hat SEO utilizes tricks and cheats with the aim of artificially increasing a website’s relevancy that results in higher search rankings. Think of Black Hat tacticians as those teenage creeps that cut in line at Disneyland, but in this case they are taking their customers along with them.

So, what exactly are Black Hat tactics? Here are just a few examples:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Hidden text and links
  • Unrelated keywords
  • Cloaking (eg, searching for “low cost flights” directs users to a porn site)
  • Gateway pages
  • Duplicate content
  • Spam blogs
  • Plagiarized content
  • Link Farms
  • Cookie stuffing

Black Hat strategies are the dark, dirty secret of the SEO industry. Instead of focusing on evergreen content, proper code structure and relevant inbound links. Black Hat SEO tacticians find loopholes in search engine algorithms and exploit them in order to give their clients a boost, albeit temporary, in their organic search rankings. So here’s the problem: sooner or later, black hat cheaters ALWAYS get caught. Google has an army of guardian coders that scour the web, identify loophole patterns and make updates to their algorithms to close the loopholes. If your website uses Black Hat tactics, Google will find you and will punish you by severely decreasing your site ranking or removing it from the results altogether.

Are you concerned that your website s being penalized? Check out this online tool.

Conclusion

The bottom line here is two-fold: 1) You NEED a SEO agency to manage your search engine optimization campaign that 2) only employ White Hat techniques. Doing so will ensure that your site is properly optimized using proper code structure and fresh content that search engines find organically relevant.  You can also rest easy with the confidence that your website will not be penalized.

To learn more about DEEPBLUE’s SEO services, contact us at inquiry@deepblue.com or call +1.888.938.8289 for a free consultation.

DEEPBLUE is recognized as a top SEO companies by DesignRush.

Frank Farris

Frank Farris is Founder and CEO of DEEPBLUE. He has been an active thought leader in the application of emerging web technologies since 1998 and is a champion of the movement to make the Responsive Web Design approach the new industry standard.

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