What is SEO Anyway?

Both pay-per-click and SEO are targeted to get your website placed as close to the top of search engine results as possible. Marketing and SEO are different, yet very, very similar. SEO are considered as the main factors in enhancing the traffic of one’s website. The concepts of good SEO are hardly a secret. The people who least understands issues with URL structure and SEO are the very people who create them: web developers, programmers, and software developers.

Many long-time SEO’s are now looking at the big picture and working with usability analysts. Some SEO are scam artists. I find it interesting that so many newcomers are given the wrong impression that there is one almighty answer to doing well in search engines. SEO are specialized techniques used to optimize your web site, to be Search engine friendly and increase your chances of placing well in searches. But SEO can also be the most profitable methods of driving leads because any leads you receive from SEO are free leads.

There are a large number of companies that adopt a fast and unethical approach to SEO known as Black Hat SEO. They employ unethical techniques that are against search engine policies. The best results from SEO are rarely achieved overnight. Black hat SEO are the techniques used to fool the search engines in order to bring in more traffic to websites. Website owners who unknowingly utilize black hat techniques of SEO are more vulnerable to changes in search engine algorithms and faced being banned.

Most hardcover books on the subject of SEO are best viewed as a vehicle to help the beginner understand the process of search engine optimization. This is because the principles behind SEO are not easy. They are very informative and most webmasters are involved in SEO and using it. White hat and black hat SEO are two opposing views of how to do search engine optimization. In a nutshell, SEO are methods that aim to improve the position or rank of a website in the listings produced by search engines. The benefits of SEO are almost unlimited.

Watch out for SEO Tools and software that is outdated and totally useless. Always research before you buy any SEO software because the search engine Algorithms are constantly changing thereby improving their search technologies to provide the most relevant results for their users. SEO tools for Google, MSN and Yahoo are numerous. SEO tools for press release optimization were also launched by PRWeb at the end of June called SEO Wizard. Search engine optimization is not easy, but with the right SEO tools, your website promotion task just got a lot easier. Blogs are one of the best SEO tools around and some like WordPress are free. Google Sitemaps’ are a powerful SEO tools which you can get free by visiting my website.

MSN has launched a suite of SEO tools to go with their Pay Per Click product Adcenter. There are many SEO tools available on the internet, some are better then others, and some are not. Header tags, proper Keyword density, proper text formatting fonts, start text key-phrase as whole phrases, alt image tag text, links pointing to your site and each page and your domain name itself are some things to pay attention too. Many specialized SEO tools can help you determine the popularity and the competitiveness of your possible keywords and can help improve your search engine ranking particularly in Google.

Writing fresh content for SEO plays a large role in keeping visitors on a web site. Let’s talk unique web page content and SEO content strategy. Finding a good SEO content writer is easier than you think. Just run a Google search or checkout elance.com. What is good SEO Content? It is unique, quality information that your visitors can use and is helpful to them. RSS feeds are an invaluable tool in the SEO content toolbox. If you scrape SEO content and end up scraping a couple spam pages, you may get noticed even more because someone is investigating the other spam pages.

The primary factor that will determine whether your SEO content is “good enough” is the content provided by competing websites. You need unique content that nobody has in order for it to pass duplicate content filters. That’s why it is important to get your content articles indexed before you submit them to the search engines. I think nowadays though search engine algorithms can trace back the content and see who published it first, so at least make sure you publish it to your website or blog before submitting it to article directories.

To strengthen the theme of your web site, you need keyword rich SEO content. SEO content writing tips content writer’s main aim is to create a new written piece which is original, simple, informative and also to the point. Write specific targeted SEO content for the independent pages. Unique SEO content remains king. Showing your visitors you can really write unique, compelling content, your traffic will grow very fast. Earlier it was just content writing but now it is widely known as SEO content writing. However there are some strict rules enforced on SEO content. Once you have visitors, your SEO content should be converting them into customers. With effective SEO content on your website, half of your search engine rank optimization work is done.

Ethical search engine optimization is a must or you will get banned. It’s not if, it’s when. Search engine optimization was and still is fascinating to me. Search Engine Optimization is a crucial part in a websites success. The objective of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to achieve high natural search engine placement for relevant keywords or keyword phrases. Hiring an ethical search engine optimization company to rank well in the natural results is essential to long term success.

Your white hat Search engine optimization (SEO) campaign will provide you with a long term increase in targeted traffic and qualified visitors to your Web Site. Visit my site often and add it to your favorites as I update you with the latest news and rumors in the search engine optimization industry everyday. The effects of bad search engine optimization are devastating and very depressing. Each website is unique in its own way and hence your (SEO) plans differ from website to website.

My site has some tips on how to perform search engine optimization (also know as SEO) on your website. I have a free, comprehensive guide to the practice of search engine optimization for those unfamiliar with the subject if you send me an email. There’s a lot of hype out there about search engine optimization (SEO) services. Some are good and some are bad. Read through Google’s terms of service as they have some information on their site about it.

Too often, visual design and SEO are perceived as a mutual sacrifice. Pay-per-click and SEO are targeted to get your website placed as close to the top of search engine results as possible. Pay-per-click cost money, but the clicks from SEO cost you nothing. SEO are considered as the main factors in enhancing the traffic of one’s website. Both, PPC and SEO are important. The truth is, the most rewarding part of SEO are often the slowest to reward. PR and SEO are based mostly on editorial credibility and relevance, not a direct payment for exposure.

SEO are specialized techniques used to optimize your web site, to be Search engine friendly and increase your chances of placing well in searches. There are a large number of companies that adopt a fast and unethical approach to SEO known as Black Hat SEO. The main components of on-page SEO are optimization of the title tag, the headline tag, the body text and the Meta tags. Companies interested in SEO are occasionally not very happy with how their website looks. Programmers with an understanding of SEO are in high demand. As a matter of fact, sites with excellent Search Engine Optimization are making giant leaps in rankings and getting a major boost in free traffic with Google’s new update.

Great web usability and SEO are wasted if folks who visit your web can’t tell that you are worthy of their trust. Those who specialize in SEO are in the unique position of understanding the web in a way that no traditional marketing agency can hope to. White hat and black hat SEO are two opposing views of how to do search engine optimization so if you use one, choose with great care. The second most important aspect for high SEO is the headers. Use H1, H2, H3, H4 headers.

Many of the techniques that can be used for SEO are banned by the various search engines. The benefits of SEO are almost unlimited. Bad techniques of SEO are a strict ‘NO’ – Like same color text as the background and Doorway pages can get your website banned. The five forces of SEO are relevant Keywords, unique Content, clean Code, relevant Links and proper use of Technology. Designing for users and designing for SEO are not mutually exclusive goals. There will be compromise. White hat SEO are techniques that follow precisely the rules and guidelines provided by search engines stand a better chance of receiving traffic and higher rankings than black hat techniques.

For this reason it is important to try to stay updated as far as new SEO are concerned. The off-page elements of website promotion and SEO are just as important. The majority of issues with SEO is very basic and just takes time to be picked up on search engines. Web design and SEO are two very different disciplines, but a certain degree of collaboration is required. It’s easy to see why effective SEO are now very much in demand. Black hat SEO is techniques used to trick or manipulate search engines for higher rankings.

If done properly, the results of your SEO efforts are very impressive. Those who practice what some refer to as “ethical” and “correct” SEO are called White Hat SEO’s. The most important for SEO is to follow the rules and you won’t have anything to worry about.

Patricia J Tuley is a Technology research analasis. You can visit my site [http://www.seoarticlesonline.com] for more great information on search engine optimization and products.

 

SEO a Scam? The Truth About the Industry

I frequent many SEO and Web Marketing forums on a daily basis and every so often there is a debate about the SEO industry and ethics. After being involved in a number of these debates, it has become really obvious that the main problems are the facts that no two SEO companies are alike and there is no unified methodology. It’s very hard to make statements about the industry as a whole because it’s debatable what exactly ‘SEO’ is. Mix in the fact that most SEO companies keep their methodology and campaign strategies secret and we have a situation where every company is totally different with very different results.

Fact 1 : There is no unified SEO methodology. SEO is actually defined by wikipedia as a process of improving traffic from SERPs to a site. Of course, HOW they do that is the real question and causes the debates.

Fact 2 : The effectiveness of an SEO campaign depends on the site structure, site content, keywords, methodology used, and how popular the site is. A site cannot just rank for any random keyword. SEO is also not voodoo. It is logic, problem solving, and Web marketing mixed together. If your site provides no value to users, it probably won’t rank.

Fact 3 : Some ‘SEOs’ do search engine optimization and some do search engine manipulation. Of course, it is all marketed as SEO. Unethical optimization provides results at any cost and is always short term (usually ends in a banned domain name). Ethical optimization opens up the site to the search engines and provides long term benefits.

Fact 4 : Most SEO companies get paid whether or not your site gets any rankings. Unfortunately, this is the case with the industry. Most SEO companies implement A, B, and C and move on to the next client. Hopefully, the site ranks. If it doesn’t, they always have more clients.

Fact 5 : Most SEO companies use both ethical and unethical inbound linking strategies.To maximize profits, it is very common for SEO companies to buy bulk links from India, links on spam/scraper web sites, or sell large directory submission packages. It is also common for SEO companies to place huge amounts of the contract into inbound linking to make up for the poor quality of the site optimization.

I don’t think it is fair to characterize the industry as a whole without figuring out what is wrong with it and how SEO companies can overcome it. So how exactly do we determine what is good and bad about the industry? I have now been involved with the Web for over 10 years and, specifically, with the SEO industry for almost 4 years and I’ve seen the inner workings of major SEO companies and worked with clients who had been burned by their previous SEO campaigns. Combined with numerous Web postings and forum debates talking about the same basic problems, I’ve compiled a list of the most common issues.

Problem 1: Responsibility for Results

It’s no secret that the vast majority of SEO companies take no responsibility for results. It is a fact that no SEO company can guarantee results (and if they do, they are lying to you). It is also a fact that the client is taking a risk by spending money with an SEO company that basically says ‘We’ll do what we can’. SEO companies simply guarantee they’ll do the work to ‘optimize’ the site, but without full disclosure of their methodology, what exactly is the client paying for? No other industry sells a product with no guarantees and no specific list of work that will be completed. Of course, SEO work is basically the sales of information and keeping the specifics of a methodology is important, but the combination of secrecy and no responsibility for results really makes SEO campaigns risky. So, how can an SEO company reduce the risk for the client and provide the best grade of service?

Answer 1: Incentive Based Pricing

The only real way to reduce the financial risk of the client is to share the risk. Through incentive-based pricing, the SEO company can charge a certain percentage of the total contract (say 70%) to cover their intellectual property and time while placing the rest of the contract price (remaining 30%) in incentives for success. Of course, incentives and their percentage of the contract would be totally relative depending on the campaign. This first step into sharing in the risk provides both reassurance to the client that the company believes in its methodology and places some of the financial burden of the campaign on the SEO company. At the moment, however, very few SEO companies are willing to share in the risk and charge the same price whether the client gets top rankings or no rankings at all (or possibly even lower rankings).

Problem 2: Unethical Optimization

Unfortunately, unethical (or blackhat) optimization is still very prominent on the Web. It’s also unfortunate that ‘SEO’ has been mistakenly confused with ‘Blackhat SEO’. This is still the biggest problem for SEO companies. Saying that all SEO companies deal in blackhat optimization is like saying everyone who emails is a spammer. Blackhat optimization is not optimization at all…it is search engine manipulation. Because there is so much money tied to top rankings, there will always be a market for unethical SEO and search engine spam. Until companies realize what is ethical and unethical and stop supporting those blackhat SEO companies, they will continue to thrive. This makes the industry as a whole look bad and does not reflect the ethics of good SEO companies. Blackhat provides fast, short term results, but is never a good option in the long run.

Answer 2: Ethical Optimization

There is no quick and easy solution to blackhat optimization’s stain on the SEO industry. I would suggest that all marketing departments research optimization techniques and educate themselves on what techniques are unethical. No SEO company is going to say they do unethical optimization. It’s also not a good idea to immediately trust a company or product based simply on their rankings. Unethical optimization DOES provide rankings…just not for the long run.

It would also be helpful if the major search engines would be more open and accessible to SEO companies. Currently, the major search engines and SEO companies do not deal with each other and have formed a sort of love-hate relationship. Because of this, many ethical SEOs have slowly moved into dark territory. Ethical optimization seeks to make sites more easily accessible to the engines and help to improve the engine’s search results. The problem is that the search engines mainly clump all SEO companies together the same way as uninformed users do: search engine manipulation. This is just not the case. Search engines do not want to reveal what they consider unethical because it would basically be providing a list of holes in their algorithms that blackhat SEOs would be able to manipulate further, but a defined list of ‘what not to do’ would provide a definitive list for businesses looking for an SEO company.

Basic Rules of Ethical Optimization

Any campaign that does not abide by the following rules is dealing in unethical optimization techniques and should be avoided.

1.) What the user sees and what the search engine sees should be exactly the same. Do not hide anything.

2.) Your keywords (and the resulting optimization) should exactly reflect the content of the page.Keywords should always reflect what your site is about.

3.) Do not build out pages exclusively for search engines. The site should always cater to both audiences (users and search engines). Catering to only users is why optimization is necessary. Catering only to search engines is optimization gone too far into blackhat.

4.) Do not participate in manipulative inbound linking schemes like link farms, bulk links, triangle linking, or any other unethical manipulation of your Google PageRank or link authority. Inbound links should be relevant to the content of your site and you should always know who is linking to you and where your links come from.

Problem 3: Assembly Line / Software SEO

With the growth of the SEO industry has also come the automation of SEO. The absolute first thing any prospective SEO client should know is that all effective SEO campaigns are custom. There is no checklist of items that will work exactly the same on every site. If the SEO company claims there is, then they are not doing full optimization and the campaign is minimal. A good optimization campaign optimizes the site architecture, text content, and code of the site. Assembly line SEO does not take into consideration the unique needs/design of the site and may even deal in blackhat optimization. SEO software especially should be looked at closely. There are really only two things SEO software could do that would work for any site: doorway pages (showing engines one thing and users a different thing; which is unethical) or a system of pages build exclusively for search engines (often called info or information pages and linked in an out of the way part of the page). Doorway pages are 100% unethical and info pages are deep in the gray area. Neither of those two methods address the architecture of the site, proper keyword analysis, or effective text content. The following links are examples of automated SEO software freely available on the Web. All links contain ‘nofollow’ to prevent the sites from getting inbound link credit from our site. These sites are NOT recommended by TreeHouse SEM.

http://doorwaypagemaker.com/ – Doorway page system; UNETHICAL

http://www.doorway-wizard.com/ – Doorway page system; UNETHICAL

Answer 3: Custom Campaign and Assessment

‘SEO Software’ may be cheap and affordable, but you get what you pay for. Any campaign that is going to slap on additional pages are simply sell you links is NOT an effective SEO campaign. Any SEO effort that simply has you add a few ‘optimized’ pages to your site is not going to be optimal. If you wanted to convert a street car into a race car, you don’t simply add racing strips to it. Don’t think that dumping a few pages on your site targeted to some random keywords is the same as a real SEO campaign.

If your SEO company will not sit down and talk about the layout, architecture, and aim of your site, then it is not providing a top-end service. Remember that the vast majority of ‘SEO software’ either is for building doorway/landing pages or simply providing you with data about your site (data that is already free to everyone on the Web). Good SEO campaigns take into account both the user and the search engines…not one or the other. An SEO company should have a commanding understanding of user experience and search engine optimization and use these in combination to create a campaign that will provide the best ROI. The end goal should always be leads/sales. Bringing in piles of non-targeted traffic often leads to extremely high turn over rates and very low lead conversion.

Conclusion

Do your research. Find out what you want from an optimization campaign and then ask the right questions. Make sure that the sales representative you talk to knows what they are selling. If they do not, they are definitely not the person to get information from. A lot of SEO companies use hard sale tactics and the reps are less than knowledgeable about what they are selling. Ask the following questions and see what they have to say.

1.) How do you assess keywords? If an SEO company simply optimizes for whatever keywords are sent to them by the client, the SEO campaign starts off on very shaky ground. Keyword analysis should be performed that takes into account the number of searches in all the major search engines and the relative competition for those terms. The site should also be compared to the keywords to see if they support each other.

2.) Do you plan on building out pages specifically to house keywords? Landing pages and doorway pages are not effective long term SEO options. SEO companies like them because they do not have to touch the rest of the site and it’s very easy to simply add band aids instead of performing surgery.

3.) Will my SEO campaign also help improve the user experience of the site? Proper architecture and usability goes hand in hand with SEO and helps increase ROI. You should want to bring in new traffic and convert it.

4.) Does my revenue model affect my keyword selection and the optimization as a whole? Any SEO company that does not optimize based on the target audience is NOT providing the most effective campaign. An ecommerce site marketing to comparative shoppers will want to optimize heavily for product names and model numbers. An online magazine wanting to bring in recurring traffic will want to optimize for article topics and specific themes. Local companies will want to optimize for geo-targeted keywords.

5.) I want to optimize my site, but do not want to change any of the existing content or layout…how would you go about this? Any SEO company that says they will simply add on landing pages or hide text is selling blackhat. This goes back to the earlier analogy. You are really saying that you have a car that you want to modify to be very fast, but do not want to modify the engine and the mechanic simply adds racking stripes and charges you full price.

Thank you for reading TreeHouse SEM [http://www.treehousesem.com/] articles. If you would like to know more about any of these topics, feel free to contact us.

About the Author: Steve comes from a rich Web background where he has worked on the design, development, and marketing aspects of hundreds of Web sites. Formerly from Mississippi where he attended Ole Miss, Steve moved to San Diego to pursue further challenges in the Web marketing arena.

To compete in the rapidly growing marketplace of SEM, Treehouse immediately set itself apart by placing Chief Technology Officer DeVries at the helm, who is one of the most coveted experts in the industry today. DeVries was previously a lead technical consultant at a competing local firm, achieving top rankings for major clients such as Entrepreneur, Vegas.com, Viacom, Workopolis, and Ziff Davis Media. DeVries’ experience has brought him much industry attention and placed him in high demand as a speaker at industry events by those looking to pick his brain.

 

Local SEO Industry: Current Status and Future Projections

What Is SEO?
This is a common question that most people especially those who are either new or not familiar with online marketing might be asking. SEO stands for search engine optimization. In layman’s language, it the process of capturing traffic from the search engines such as Google listings. Through this read, I am going to give you facts about the SEO business, current market status of SEO as well as the future projections in this field.

The Major SEO Players
Like any other industry in the world, the online SEO business has its players. This includes SEO local tools providers such as small digital agencies, SEO free lancers and web-designers among others.

Returns for SEO Players
The major reason as to why people get into business is to profit and expand their economic status. In the field of SEO business, the rates of returns are promising. This is because a recent research on SEO returns for a period of 12 months shows that at least all the players had something to take home. However, the returns are varying depending on a players’ hardwork and skills in the field. For example, according to this research, 34% of the interviewed SEOs said they received an amount less than $ 30,000 while another group of respondents, 17% said they received returns that were above $ 500,000.

From the above statistics, it is evident that the size of an organization played a role in the determination of the amount of returns received. It beats logic for one to expect a large organization to receive low amounts of returns and vice versa. In addition, the presence of part time SEOs as well as the entry of newbies into the market could have let to the low rates of turnover due to low operation capacity. However, it is hard to predict the course the SEO market is likely to take due to lack of clear shift in SEO earnings since the year 2011. However, the demand for local SEO services seems to be growing day in day out and this is attracting more players thereby tightening the competition among SEO service providers.

The Emerging Issues with the Current SEO Returns
With the above distribution of returns, several questions emerge. This includes the following:

• From the statistics, a large percentage of SEOs receive a low income something that suggests low pricing of SEO services.
• It is also possible that small and medium businesses do not understand the value of SEO services provided to them.
• The low SEO income earners, those who received less than $ 30,000 annual returns are also being doubted if they can provide quality services while earning that low.
• It is also unknown if most SEOs will still be in operation if their income remains static.

The Current SEOs Income Per Customer
Just like the annual SEO returns, SEO income per customer also varies. This is because there are those clients who would pay less than $100 a month while others will pay more than $5000 a month. This variation in income per client can be attributed to the type of services provided as well as the depth of services. The size of business a client is seeking SEO services for also play a role in determining the amount to be charged. For example, small businesses are charged less simply because their requirements are much smaller as compared to large multi-location franchise businesses.

Research also shows that some SEO service providers operate on high volume basis. Such SEOs provide simple SEO services at very low monthly rates. As a result, such SEO service providers end up having a high customer churn with a large dedicated network of sales team.

Similarly, some SEO service providers provide services that are more comprehensive in a much more professional manner customized according to the client thereby leading to a low number of clients.

Due to the above statistics, it therefore becomes essential for any SEO service provider in the current market to operate in a manner that matches his/her setup.

Handling Capacity of the Modern SEOs
Currently, SEOs are handling more clients as compared to the previous years. Statistics show that about 40% of the SEOs in the market handle at least 11 clients while 23% SEOs handle at least 21 clients. Such large numbers of clients to handle lead to more audits to be done, lots of tasks, research, reports and even more calls from the clients to be attended to. The high numbers of clients also demand a high level of efficiency so that the clients can be assured of quality services.

Market Structure for Most SEOs
SEOs have been using several marketing techniques to promote their businesses. Offline marketing channels such as word of mouth has been cited by most SEOs as the most effective marketing technique. This can be attributed to the trust level, business reputation as well as relationships build during the offline campaigns.

Alongside offline marketing, SEOs also practice online marketing such as the use of LinkedIn and social media. However, most SEOs have cited LinkedIn as the best option as compared to the social networks because it is better placed for lead generation and networking.

Services Offered by SEOs
Majority of the SEO players offer onsite optimization with 91% of the SEOs practicing this. Google+ optimization has also a good number of SEOs practicing it as 86% claimed to be offering this service to their clients. For affiliate marketing, only a small percentage (11%) of SEOs are offering this service to their clients.

Other services offered by SEOs:

• Content creation/optimization
• Link building
• Citation building
• Social media marketing
• Website development
• PPC
• Mobile site development
• Video marketing and mobile marketing.

The most demanded service by SEO clients is onsite marketing, while the least demanded service is affiliate marketing. The other services are somehow averagely demanded. However, most small and medium businesses do not understand the opportunities that video and mobile marketing can unlock to them and therefore tend not to use these services. SEOs therefore need to educate their clients on these marketing channels so that they can go for them.

When asked about the online SEO services SEOs feel are effective, 82% of them said that the General search is the most effective for generating leads. Local search appears to be the second best after 62% of the respondents in an SEO survey voted in its favor. PPC is the 3rd with 53% while social media is the 4th with 26%. Daily deals appear to be an appealing to most SEOs because only 1% voted in favor of it.

Tedious SEO Tasks
55% of the current SEOs in the market find link building to be the most tedious and time-consuming work. Others, though 15% only believe that content writing is the most tedious and time consuming task among all the tasks they do. It therefore emerges that to the 55% who find link building tedious, this task is also boring to them.

Future Projections
This is an outline of what we expect in the near future as far as SEO business is of concern.

Expansion of SEO Businesses
Compared to the previous years, SEO businesses has been growing and expanding steadily. Most SEOs (about 93%) are not only optimistic about expanding their businesses, but are also expecting to grow their business. In what seems to be a determined move to grow their businesses, most SEOs (82%) are willing to recruit more staff members so as to realize their desired levels of growth.

The social media is also expected to grow and be more effective even than the local directories. This is because most SEOs believe that social media can perform better because of recommendations from friends. Mobile usage is also expected to grow further and become relevant for local businesses.

Upsurge of Confidence in SEO Business
Unlike other businesses, the SEO business is showing a positive growth of confidence among the players. Despite this being a dynamic and innovative industry, most SEOs are still willing to recruit more staff to help drive their businesses ahead. 84% of the sampled SEOs in the SEO research are also optimistic that the SEO business is going to be more profitable starting this year 2013.

Confidence is also running high that if the SEO players increase the understanding of SEO/social among the business owners they serve in future, they will not only increase the business owners’ rate of investment, but also make them transfer their marketing budgets from other channels to the digital channels.

Ajay Prasad is the Founder and President of GMR Web Team, a leading Internet strategy, marketing and development firm. Ajay guides small and medium size businesses in designing their online strategy, marketing and development campaigns for maximum impact. Ajay focuses on a client’s products and services and their target market’s needs to achieve the best possible results.