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To understand why search engine optimization (SEO) is so important, you need to know what SEO does for a website.
If you needed to hire a new manager for your office you would let people know about the opening by advertising. An ad in the paper would probably include the positions' title, job description, and how to contact you. It might also state how not to contact you (i.e., no phone calls.)
Meta data, code, and certain files (i.e. robots.txt) provide similar information to robots including what the website is about, where you are located, and instructions on how often, and what robots should or should not read.
A robot is what search engines (and other information gathering companies) use to find your site, analyze it, and then decide what to do with it (ignore it, ban it, or index it).
1. Search engines have to find your website.
2. Search engines have to crawl the site, understand it the way you want them to so you have better control over how it is indexed (classified).
3. Promote your site in a way that matches how people search for information.
We take care to make Robots our friends!
The Internet search engine process is not run by people. It is run by robots (spiders, webcrawlers, worms, and webants) that (hopefully) visit your site and try to understand and index it. If your site is not indexed, it will not show up in search engines!
A site with good SEO attracts robots and provides instructions, descriptions, and content that robots can understand, analyse, and assign relevance to. A site with no-, or poor SEO will either get ignored, or worse - tagged as spam or blacklisted.
We only follow the principles of White-Hat SEO structures and the summary below gives you a good insight into the process:
Any SEO tactic that maintains the integrity of your website and the SERPs (search engine results pages) is considered a "white-hat" search engine optimization tactic. These are the only tactics that we will use whenever applicable and which enhance rather than detract from your website and from the rankings.
By far one of the easiest ways to stop your website from ranking well on the search engines is to make it difficult for search engines to find their way through it. Many sites use some form of script to enable fancy drop-down navigation, etc. Many of these scripts cannot be crawled by the search engines resulting in un-indexed pages.
While many of these effects add visual appeal to a website, if you are using scripts or some other form of navigation that will hinder the ‘spidering’ of your website it is important to add text links to the bottom of at least your homepage linking to all you main internal pages including a sitemap to your internal pages.
Exchanging links with other webmasters is a good way (not the best, but good) of attaining additional incoming links to your site. While the value of reciprocal links has declined a bit over the past year they certainly still do have their place.
A VERY important note is that if you do plan on building reciprocal links it is important to make sure that you do so intelligently. Random reciprocal link building in which you exchange links with any and virtually all sites that you can will not help you over the long run. Link only to sites that are related to yours and who's content your visitors will be interested in and preferably which contain the keywords that you want to target. Building relevancy through association is never a bad thing unless you're linking to bad neighbourhoods (penalized industries and/or websites).
Don't confuse "content creation" with doorway pages and the such. When we recommend content creation we are discussing creating quality, unique content that will be of interest to your visitors and which will add value to your site.
The more content-rich your site is the more valuable it will appear to the search engines, your human visitors, and to other webmasters who will be far more likely to link to your website if they find you to be a solid resource on their subject.
Creating good content can be very time-consuming; however it will be well worth the effort in the long run. As an additional bonus, these new pages can be used to target additional keywords related to the topic of the page.
You know more about your business that those around you so you are in the best position to write articles for your blog. Correct META data is important in these articles, whether it be in the form of articles, forum posts, or a spotlight piece on someone else's website.
Creating content that other people will want to read and post on their sites is one of the best ways to build links to your website that don't require a reciprocal link back.
The manipulation of your content, wording, and site structure for the purpose of attaining high search engine positioning is the backbone of SEO and the search engine positioning industry. Everything from creating solid title and Meta tags to tweaking the content to maximize its search engine effectiveness is crucial to any successful optimization effort.
That said, it is of primary importance that the optimization of a website not detract from the message and quality of content contained within the site. There's no point in driving traffic to a site that is so poorly worded that it cannot possibly convey the desired message and which thus, cannot sell. Site optimization must always take into account the maintenance of the structure and solid message of the site while maximizing its exposure on the search engines.
Webmasters that are in for the short term gain attempt to "trick" the search engines into ranking sites and pages based on illegitimate means. Whether this is through the use of doorway pages, hidden text, interlinking, keyword spamming or other means they are meant to only trick a search engine into placing a website high in the rankings. Because of this, sites using black-hat SEO tactics tend to drop from these positions as fast as they climb (if they do climb at all).
The following tactics are used by the ‘ill-informed’ SEO ‘Experts’ to "trick" the search engines and we strongly guard against them.
Due to the sheer number of tricks and scripts used against search engines they could not possibly all be listed here. These are the most common black-hat tactics. Many SEO's and webmasters have simply modified the below tactics in hopes that the new technique will work. Truthfully they may, but not forever and probably not for long either.
This is probably one of the most commonly abused forms of search engine ‘spam’ optimisation. Essentially this is when a webmaster or SEO places a large number of instances of the targeted keyword phrase in hopes that the search engine will read this as relevant. In order to offset the fact that this text generally reads horribly it will often be placed at the bottom of a page and in a very small font size. An additional tactic that is often associated with this practice is hidden text which is commented on below.
Hidden text is text that is set at the same colour as the background or very close to it. While the major search engines can easily detect text set to the same colour as a background some webmasters will try to get around it by creating an image file the same colour as the text and setting the image file as the background. While undetectable at this time to the search engines this is blatant spam and websites using this tactic are usually quickly reported by competitors and the site blacklisted.
In short, cloaking is a method of presenting different information to the search engines than a human visitor would see. There are too many methods of cloaking to possibly list here and some of them are still undetectable by the search engines.
That said, which methods still work and how long they will is rarely set-in-stone and like hidden text, when one of your competitors figures out what is being done (and don't think they aren't watching you if you're holding one of the top search engine positions) they can and will report your site and it will get banned.
Doorway pages are pages added to a website solely to target a specific keyword phrase or phrases and provide little in the way of value to a visitor. Generally the content on these pages provide no information and the page is only there to promote a phrase in hopes that once a visitor lands there, that they will go to the homepage and continue on from there. Often to save time these pages are generated by software and added to a site automatically.
This is a very dangerous practice. Not only are many of the methods of injecting doorway pages banned by the search engines but a quick report to the search engine of this practice and your website will simply disappear along with all the legitimate ranks you have attained with your genuine content pages.
Redirecting, when used as a black-hat tactic, is most commonly brought in as a compliment to doorway pages. Because doorway pages generally have little or no substantial content, redirects are sometime applied to automatically move a visitor to a page with actual content such as the homepage of the site. As quickly as the search engines find ways of detecting such redirects, the spammers are uncovering ways around detection.
That said, the search engines figure them out eventually and your site will be penalized. That or you'll be reported by a competitor or a disgruntled searcher.
A throwback tactic that rarely works these days. When affiliate programs became popular many webmasters would simply create a copy of the site they were promoting, tweak it a bit, and put it online in hopes that it would outrank the site it was promoting and capture their sales. As the search engines would ideally like to see unique content across all of their results this tactic was quickly banned and the search engines have methods for detecting and removing duplicate sites from their index.
If the site is changed just enough to avoid automatic detection with hidden text or the such, you can once again be reported to the search engines and be banned that way.