May 2010 : Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Most website owners are continuously bombarded with unsolicited emails offering to get them excellent results in search engines. This is irrespective of whether their websites are already achieving excellent results. There are literally thousands of companies trying to make a living by doing this. If your website does not appear to be getting good search results, the offers and guarantees can be very tempting but we advocate extreme caution with such offers.

Similarly, most unsolicited requests for link exchanges should be ignored. Only consider reciprocal links with other sites very relevant to your product or service.

What not to do

Here is an excerpt from a recent report: Outsourcing SEO Can Cost You Your Website

If you are new to the world of SEO, you may not know all of the actual subtleties involved. But, if you are going to hire someone to do your SEO work for you, you had better know a whole lot more or you could suffer far worse than you ever would trying to do SEO work yourself... even without any real experience. Even if you hire an SEO Professional to promote your site, if they do anything that the search engines decide is unethical, your site will be banned and you will have no recourse, legal or otherwise to get it back in!

What? How?

The top search engines are constantly evolving their algorithms or the methods that they use to decide both your page's rank and its placement on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). A while back, three-way linking or Pyramid linking was all the rage but they quickly became more costly than effective. The basic idea was to provide mutually beneficial, one-way links by linking three sites rather than just two. Thus, instead of reciprocal links (which are still valued less) between Site A and Site B, there would be a link from Site A to Site B, a link from Site B to Site C and a final link from Site C to Site A.

This effectively provided all three websites with one-way links and increased the value of those links. It may have taken the search engine a while to figure out this tactic but figure it out they did and many of those sites were penalized in rank and placement while some were banned altogether. Many of the people doing this were hired by people just like you. While some of the people simply lost page rank, some of them really did lose any ability to get their site indexed on the search engines at all.

Once your website has been banned, sandboxed or otherwise removed from the search engine indexes you may just as well shut that site down and build it from scratch. Google does not care what SEO Service you paid to promote your site. Bing does not care what SEO Company you paid to promote your site. Yahoo does not even care what SEO expert you hired. Once your site is off the search engines, it is off until the search engines decide to let you back in. This can take years to accomplish and most likely will require more money than you will ever be able to get back from your investment.

These days, as in the example given above, many people are searching for SEO Experts that will give them all these one-way links. They will only want DO Follow links back to their site and even many of the SEO "Experts" think that this is a good thing! But guess what! Google is neither stupid nor idle and when it updates algorithms, unnatural website growth patterns are going to be red-flagged first and then the search engines will begin the banning process again. With over ten billion websites indexed on each of the major search engines, they really do not need your website to provide their users with viable alternatives.

So what is the answer?

The answer is actually very simple. If you are serious about your online business and want to succeed and stay in business for the long run, do not try to jump to the head of the pack right away. Organic growth is, as the name implies, natural growth. When you are advertising and promoting your site, do not seek to aim for solely the high value targets but take on all of the possible targets.

Proper SEO goes far beyond just getting all the "good stuff" and throwing it together and thinking you will come out ahead of the game. Proper SEO efforts involve many different aspects, some of them more beneficial than the others but only beneficial if you have all of them together, the better with the not so good. Anything less is putting your online business venture on a path to failure. If you are in business for the long run, take the good with the better and sooner than you think, your site will be one of the best ... and that means you own the Search Engines - they no longer own you because you took some time to learn proper SEO techniques!

What is worth doing

We use all the techniques on our websites that are currently recommended by the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) in order to attempt to achieve good results. In most cases these are successful but, for some obscure reason, some sites prove resistant to getting indexed.

Something that is becoming more and more relevant is linking to social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Something that website owners can do is to set up Facebook or Twitter pages relevant to their website and include links to their website on those pages. We then provide links back to the Facebook or Twitter pages from the website. Similarly, having short videos on YouTube, which we then embed in a website page, can also be very beneficial to website traffic.