Search Engine Optimization
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Until a few years ago, only a handful of business professionals had ever heard of search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Before Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft revolutionized direct marketing by offering customizable paid search ads online, company owners saw search engine results as an extension of existing public relations campaigns. Today, smart marketing directors understand that well-placed, organic search engine results can help companies stand apart from the clutter of paid advertising and unrelated content.
Search engine optimization consultants help companies land on the first page for key organic search results by using some common strategies:
- Placing links to client companies on well-regarded Web sites.
- Ensuring that content on a client site contains crucial keywords.
- Maintaining compliance with search engine requirements and industry best practices.
Meanwhile, so-called "black hat" SEO practitioners started promising that they could guarantee first page results on major search engines. In reality, the back door tricks they used to cheat search engine rules often result in their clients' pages being banned from search indexes altogether. Prospective clients who don't understand the difference between legitimate search engine optimization and "search engine spam" could find themselves worse off than they were before seeking out the help of SEO companies. According to online marketing experts, seven traits identify real experts in Search Engine Optimization:
1. Effective SEO Companies Never Send Junk Email
If a search engine optimization company can deliver results for clients, it should be able to do the same for itself. While SEO companies may use traditional advertising to spread the word about search engine optimization, legitimate providers refrain from sending spam. Unfortunately, many fly-by-night operators and novice entrepreneurs flood corporate inboxes with promises of top rankings at cheap prices. Marketing experts advise recipients of SEO spam messages to discover the real track records of prospective providers by checking search engines.
2. Professional SEO Services Distinguish Strategy from Advertising
At its heart, search engine optimization embodies a philosophy that a smart Web strategy can offset the need for continuous advertising purchases. As Web ad rates climb and Web viewers become savvier about paid product placement on search engines, SEO helps companies highlight their reputation. Therefore, prospective SEO companies that require lots of paid ad buys for their strategies to work are really replacing one kind of advertising for another. True SEO experts like to see their clients shave 70-80 percent from their ad budgets, instead of spending more for the same result. Advertising specialists, like the professionals at Increase Visibility, actively manage ad spending to help ease the transition to organic customer acquisition.
3. Legitimate SEO Companies Can Be Found in Search Engines
"Black hat" SEO services often request that customers take a leap of faith before ordering a trendy, new procedure. While these services might produce short-term results, search engines hate when spammers game their systems. Before long, search engine administrators remove all trace of their clients from search indexes. On the other hand, successful SEO companies, like More Visibility, have built track records going back as far as ten years. Because their methods comply with search engine algorithms, prospective clients can actually see the kind of long-term results that SEO companies provide for themselves and for their customers.
4. SEO Involves Business Strategy and Tactics, Not Secrets
While search engine optimization agencies tend to favor specific strategies, legitimate SEO experts are happy to map out a recommended course of action to prospective clients. Some SEO services promote their philosophies online, while others save explanations of their tactics for boardroom pitch sessions. On the other hand, fly-by-night SEO companies often provide little to no explanation of the strategies they use to deliver results. Black hat SEO providers know that their methods will run afoul of search engines, so they keep them secret. Marketing experts advise prospective clients to turn down offers from SEO companies that won't reveal specific strategies during a proposal.
5. Industry Connections Keep True SEO Professionals Accountable
Customers of traditional retailers and service providers expect to see endorsements from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or from trade associations when they enter a store or office. Search engine optimization practitioners are no different. Peer groups have formed over the past decade to emphasize a shared code of ethics and a transparent approach to demystifying the SEO practice. Some SEO companies have even enrolled in the BBB's own online programs that verify corporate commitment to customer satisfaction. Therefore, checking trade group rosters and complaint lists should paint a clear picture of a firm's real track record.
6. Targeted SEO Gets Local, Not Obscure
Some SEO services promise to deliver a "number one ranking on Google" within a few weeks. What prospective clients may not realize is that the number one ranking may come from a highly unusual search term that has very little competition and even fewer audience members. Experienced SEO companies, such as OrangeSoda, help local retailers and service providers use area names to dominate localized searches. National and international companies can even benefit from this strategy by researching geographic areas where their products and services are most in demand. Localized search allows companies to transparently target the communities they serve most often. Search engine optimization leverages local relationship into more powerful search rankings.
7. The Best SEO Companies Stay Behind the Scenes
Ever since Google developed the PageRank algorithm to measure the reliability of Web content, companies have clamored for quality links that point at their home pages. In the Google index, more high quality sites pointing at a particular page helps that page rise in the rankings. Therefore, some "black hat" SEO companies require new clients to post links to themselves and to other clients in conspicuous places on their Web sites. Search engine administrators frown on the practice, which is why legitimate SEO services never ask clients to insert suspicious links into their pages.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services Help Real Estate Agency Get Specific
Before investigating search engine optimisation services, few companies understand exactly what terms Web surfers use when looking for products and services. A Real Estate firm understood the power of uncovering customers' real wants and needs, so they approached an SEO company for help with an SEO strategy. Their SEO experts used research to discover the demand for targeted local real estate terms.
While a design team ensured that key phrases appeared on the client's Web site, placement specialists procured prominent links to the real estate firm’s website on high profile blogs and other influential sites. As a result, four out of five of the agency's new Web site visitors now come from organic search, generating more revenue with fewer advertising dollars.
SEO Services boost Job Website by 300%
With large audiences and the potential for major revenue, job sites attract major competition. The job site served an important niche among job seekers by connecting them to government recruiting and staffing agencies. Despite being among the very first online job sites, the job site enjoyed no significant presence on any of the major search engines. Company leaders connected with Web site SEO experts, where a team tackled the job site project on a few fronts.
First, SEO strategists researched the best possible search terms for the job site to target. Next, the team optimized the job site by focusing on usability and internal navigation, while adding critical metadata for search engines. Then, partnership experts developed linking relationships with influential Web sites. Finally, the entire team provided ongoing reporting and feedback to the client, charting both progress and results. Within a year, the job site placed within the top five organic results on major search engines, while boosting the number of paying corporate advertisers from 250 to over 1,000.
These Business Secrets Uncover the Public Face of the SEO Community
Just as a parent wouldn't think to bring a sick child to a disreputable hospital, a company decision-maker should avoid placing an online marketing strategy with a back-alley SEO operation. The seven secrets outlined here are still secrets because the search engine optimization business is still very new. As more companies understand the role of ethical search engine optimization in their customer acquisition efforts, the best SEO companies will gain greater recognition. Until then, business owners can focus on ordering effective "white hat" SEO services that actually grow revenues instead of sapping resources.