I’ve heard so much about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) that I’ve become confused and worried. It all sounds so complicated, and in the realms of either rocket science or witchcraft. What’s it really all about? Is it as complicated as it sounds?
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is all about preparing the pages of a website such that they stand the best possible chance of achieving top results on the search engines, and maximising traffic from the search engines. It’s not difficult or complicated in any way at all. Quite the opposite. It’s extremely simple. Most of it is so painfully obvious; if only webmasters would stop to think about what they are doing.
At the most fundamental level, SEO is about:
- Making sure the pages of a website can be crawled
- Ensuring properly constructed pages
- Improving the written content on the pages
There are a number of complimentary services to the above, but essentially that’s it.
Unfortunately, so few of the so called professionals who claim to be experts in this area actually know very much about it. Or if they do, they hide it very well indeed!! It is our belief that the vast majority of misleading advice has been repeated so many times, by so many people, that in some circles it’s taken as being accurate and true. There’s mention of black hat, and white hat SEO techniques. The white hat techniques being apparently permissible…?
It’s all complete non-sense!
If your unsure as to whether any advice your given is reliable or not, there’s a very simple acid test. When considering the advice you’ve heard or been given, you must ask yourself:-
“If there were no search engines, would I still do this?”
If the answer is “No”, as it so often is, then don’t do it! Don’t waste either your time or your money on services or schemes that will only result in your website being penalised for attempting to manipulate the search results. Instead, devote your time and resources into improving your content and website services. At the end of the day, there is no other way to achieve the long term results your seeking, in terms of ranking or search engine traffic.
An example of this nonsense that we encounter frequently is companies that register numerous domain names that include keywords as well as geographic place names, that are then redirected to 1 website. Google is very quick to detect duplicate content and manipulation of this type. It simply doesn’t work.
Another example is creating pages that have essentially the same content as other pages of your website, but with different geographic place names. This will not achieve the results you are hoping for, but will result in penalties from the search engines and a pretty silly website.
You may create landing pages for PPC campaigns (Pay Per Click), which you instruct the search engines not to index. That’s not only fine, but probably a good idea. However, to create pages that you would not otherwise have created, in the hope of manipulating search results, is folly.
Any idea or scheme that is suggested to you that does not involve improving your website for both users and search engines, usually in terms of navigation and/or content, is a waste of time, money, and effort. At the most basic level, the SEO process is simply about improving your web pages to make them easier to crawl, and to legitimately improve their content for both search engines and users.
Lastly, when considering whether or not to enlist the services of an SEO company or individual, they should be both able and happy to simply explain what they intend to do, and why. You should then apply the acid test mentioned above. That is, if there were no search engines, would I still do this? If they either cannot, or will not, explain their plans; or if their plans will not improve your website in some way regardless of search engines, do not enlist their help. If they do not make you feel completely comfortable about what they plan to do, or if it seems in any way confusing, the chances are they really don’t understand or care about the true nature of search engine optimisation.