Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of designing a web page so that search engines know exactly what key terms the content of that page is relevant for while simultaneously assuring that the relevancy is as strong as possible.

Content Optimization vs. Manipulation

Optimizing the Content

Content should always be written naturally and intelligently so that the reader feels he or she is actually being educated and enriched by the experience. For search engines to determine that any web page has relevancy for a given set of key terms the content must actually contain those key terms. Strategic placement of relevant key words and phrases is important, but should never be overdone, otherwise content quality is compromised.

Content must be absolutely unique or it will suffer serious penalties, including an outright ban from search engines. Furthermore, taking content from other websites can expose the site owner to legal liability for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA.

Manipulating Relevancy

In an attempt to manipulate search results many people “stuff” content with relevant key words and phrases. See an example of keyword stuffing below:

ABC Company offers the best widgets money can buy. Our widgets range in size from very large widgets to very small widgets. We have blue widgets, green widgets, yellow widgets, and purple widgets. The quality widgets made by ABC Company include the patented Z widget and G widget…

While many marketers believe that search engines penalize websites for the practice of keyword stuffing, there is little evidence that they do so. However, one penalty that is an unavoidable consequence of keyword stuffing is that, upon reading these unnaturally worded texts, a web page’s perceived credibility and informational value is greatly diminished in the eyes of web surfers. For any intelligent business owner this should trigger the obvious question, “What is the point in gaining top search rankings if it fails to translate into actual business?” Manipulation tactics such as these generally end in failure and should be avoided.

Optimizing the Platform

The first point of failure for any search engine marketing project is the platform. Web designers that attempt to beautify websites with Flash and JavaScript navigation systems often produce platforms that are totally unmarketable. Flash only, framed, and/or Ajax navigated websites can render content invisible to search engines. The result is often a very beautiful website that nobody ever visits. In internet marketing, as in many activities of life, it can truly be said that the KISS approach (“Keep it simple, stupid!”) is really the best.

What Doesn’t Work

Some SEOs have been known to produce reports with dozens of pages of information containing analysis data on every conceivable aspect or dimension of a website, including some that are inconceivable to anyone. Being hyper-analytical about every bit and byte of a web page can be, and often is, a total waste of time. SEO is complicated, but it isn’t THAT complicated. Obsessing over elements in the webpage that are invisible to viewers is an unproductive use of valuable time. As a rule of thumb, if the reader can’t see it, it doesn’t matter to the search engine. This includes meta tags, hidden HTML comments, and poorly written HTML code.

Overly obsessive behavior that places Earth crushing weight on every word of the page and every byte of HTML code is typically the result of SEOs that are completely incapable of performing one of the most critical tasks of search engine marketing

…building back links!