Demystifying Acronyms: Episode 1 – SEO

This term is thrown around a lot these days in tech and business circles. What does it stand for, what is it, and do you need it?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. According to Wikipedia “SEO is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine.”

Since Google has over 90% of the market share for search engines here in 2019 SEO efforts are usually focused on attempting to get your website to rank highly in relevant Google searches.

“Google it”

SEO has changed over the years as Google’s Search Algorithm evolves. When you type something into the search box this algorithm decides what results to display and how to rank them in order of relevance. When trying to improve the position or appearance of a website in a list of search results you need to know what this algorithm is looking for. Here are some examples of factors that currently play into this algorithm: content quality, links to other pages and other pages that link to you, mobile-friendliness, page load speeds, and how often the content is updated.

“Do I Need SEO?”

Yes, you need to make sure your website is found by Google and that it shows up in relevant searches. If a tree falls in the forrest does it make any sound? If a website exists but no one visits it, is it of any use? Thankfully there are a lot of tools out there now that are helping to enable people to handle this for their own websites. First and foremost is Google Analytics. It’s free and it gives you information direct from Google about your site traffic, and things that may be hindering your search ranking. There are also many free website plugins that help you analyze your site’s content to make sure your content is correctly labeled and structured.

There are times though when a professional is needed. If you have exhausted the resources of free online tools and are still not being found, and especially if your business relies on online sales as the main source of revenue, it may be time to call someone who specializes in SEO and marketing. If you do hire someone to help you with SEO, keep a lookout for the “Black Hats”…

Black Hat vs White Hat SEO

Don’t worry little lady, your website is safe with me”

Back in the days of the Spaghetti Western Film, the good guy always wore the white hat and the bad guy wore a black hat. This is how “black hat SEO” and “white hat SEO” got their names. Sneaky methods that try to trick the search algorithm are called “Black Hat” SEO. These methods are usually initially very effective, at least in gaining a better position in searches. However, site visitors are often annoyed and confused when they actually visit the site because websites built only to appease a search algorithm are usually not what the visitor is looking for. Also, if (or rather when) Google discovers the shady methods the site gets “blacklisted” and penalized, or even disappears from results altogether. So how do you spot the black hats? Be wary of big promises like “Guaranteed #1 on Google!” Ask them what exactly they intend to do and if any of their techniques could be considered “black hat” or risky. You can find a list of some common Black Hat techniques to watch out for at Entrepreneur.com.

Tune in next time for “Demystifying Acronyms: Episode 2 – CMS”

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