Get to know SEO so you don’t get ripped off!

learn seoWe’ve all had those uninvited emails.

The ones kindly telling you that you’re not ranking well on search engines like Google, and their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) services will bring you lots of web traffic and a position on the first page of Google results.

Tempted? Take a deep breath and think again.

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.”

 How do I know? Cause that quote is taken directly from Google’s support website.

A brief history of SEO

Search engines like Google want to be able to show you the most valuable and relevant web pages for your search query. To be able to do that, they first crawl web pages and use very complicated algorithms to rank them in an index.

Very early on, people started gaming the system using tricks known as ‘black hat’ techniques to try to outwit the algorithms and jump up the rankings.

These tactics included:

  • Stuffing the keyword phrase into the page (both visibly and invisibly) as many times as possible
  • Buying and swapping links, or listing on poor quality web directories, to get as many backlinks as possible
  • Spamming the comments section on blogs and forums just to get a backlink
  • Spinning low quality versions of an article onto lots of different sites
  • Technical trickery like doorway pages, cloaking and redirects

As a result, Google began to update its algorithms to reward top quality content and filter out pages that used dubious methods to try and win their attention.

And it’s got very good at it.

Play nice or face the consequences

Many dodgy SEO tactics are still being used by unscrupulous companies, even though the Google algorithms have been updated numerous times to recognise and penalise these tactics.

These methods are useless at best and downright dangerous at worst. And who gets penalized for these actions? The website owner. That’s you.

So if you want to steer clear of a Google penalty that bombs your search rankings, you need to make sure any SEO activities for your website are best practice.

What is good SEO?

Good SEO is about giving Google what it wants. Which is all about giving the user what they want…

> top quality, helpful content (web pages, video, pdfs etc)

> relevant to the search query

> on an easy-to-use website (technically sound)

> that other people recommend (through quality, earned backlinks)

So what are your options?

Firstly, do yourself a red hot favour and learn some SEO basics.

>>> Start with this article, or this one, by yours truly, written as a simple intro to SEO for people with little or no prior knowledge.

>>> Read up about SEO. There are a huge amount of free resources online like this SEO guide from Google itself.

>>> Take an introductory online SEO course like the one run by my pal Kate Toon called “The Recipe for SEO Success”.

When you’re up to speed (it doesn’t take much to learn the basics!), you’ll have a choice to either pay an SEO specialist to do the work for you, or do it yourself.

Use your smarts when you pick an SEO supplier

If you’re going to employ a specialist, please don’t randomly pick one (or reply to one of those unsolicited emails). Speak to other business people to find out who they use and recommend, and search online for good reviews.

A legitimate SEO company should be able to

  • explain the SEO techniques it uses
  • show you examples of their work
  • put you in touch with happy customers
  • provide detailed reporting of their work and the results it’s getting

Their services should include

  • keyword research for your specific niche
  • an SEO audit of your current website with advice on what to fix to make it more SEO friendly
  • a strategy and support to build quality backlinks
  • help with content development

With a good understanding of SEO at your disposal, you should be able to weed out any dodgy dealers.

The takeaway?

Don’t waste your time and precious cash trying to outwit Google. Understand how to work with them, not against them.

Whether you choose to hire an SEO specialist or DIY, maintain a good quality website and you’ll enjoy a stream of visitors who want to be there.

 

This entry was posted in Marketing & SEO, Show All and tagged by Alison Hardy
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About Alison Hardy
Alison Hardy

Alison Hardy Alison is a freelance copywriter and content marketer. She specialises in dynamic online copy that helps small businesses reach and connect with the people that need them.

With a Southern Pommie accent and an unAustralian dislike for seafood, Alison came to Australia at the end of the last century. Despite these obvious disadvantages, she was offered a job in the ecommerce department of a local Internet company and has been working in digital communications ever since.

In the heady days of the first dot com boom, before she became a queen of copy, Alison helped produce websites. But project management wasn’t creative enough for this sassy lassie so she switched her attention to marketing and communications. Much more fun!

She spent the next 10 years in marketing roles, promoting businesses in the education, art, technology and online retail industries. This invariably involved writing persuasive copy online, offline and sometimes even in the line at the post office. Her talents helped her produce powerful copy for a wide range of purposes like websites, flyers, adverts, enewsletters, emails, social media and blog posts.

In 2012, she became one of the growing number of fearless people who take a leap of faith to work for themselves. Nowadays, you will find her in her slippers with a cat on her lap, wrestling sentences to create smart content to bring businesses to life.

A wordsmith, online champion, creative problem solver and a lover of strong tea, Alison has been working with us at Spiffy Stores for many years. She has helped us with marketing advice and writing content for our website, blog and knowledge base.

She’s pretty nice to work with, and thankfully has learnt to polish off a prawn or two so she can’t be all that bad. If you would like to hire her to write great copy for your website or marketing materials, visit www.alisonhardy.com for samples of work and her contact details.