SEO could benefit many businesses who are looking to increase their online presence and drive more website visitors to their websites. Unfortunately the SEO industry is not known for its transparency which will be confusing for businesses that are wondering just what exactly they will be getting in return for their investment.

The SEO industry in addition has attracted a lot of cowboys who employ “black-hat” techniques that go against the policies of Google and the other search engines. You should make sure that your SEO will be done using moral “White Hat” techniques.

Businesses that unwittingly employ an SEO that uses these techniques may see short term results until Google understands the footprints left behind by these techniques seo, at which point they will see a negative affect their website positioning. The black hat SEO offers quick fixing and is usually long gone by this point!

What’s With all the Hats?

The term “Black Hat” comes from the old western movies, the bad guys always dressed in black hats! The good guys dressed in white hats, you will hear moral SEO referred to as “White Hat” SEO. Remember the bad guys always got their just deserts!

What Should your SEO be Doing for your Business?

It is important to know exactly what your SEO will be doing for you and how they will provide you with measurable results. Be wary of any SEO who offers a guaranteed ranking, it is impossible to guarantee a ranking with Google or any other search engine!

Any SEO who can guarantee results without even knowing which keywords you want to target is using this as a marketing ploy, how could they guarantee results if you wanted to compete for keywords like “Apple”, “Google” or “Facebook”?!

Without completing keyword research it is impossible to tell how likely the success of an SEO campaign will be and how long it is likely to take. SEO is an ongoing process of research, testing and analysis. It takes careful planning to identify the best keywords and to then put a solid strategy in place to rank for those keywords.

On-site and Off Site SEO

SEO takes into account factors that are both on-site and off-site. On-site SEO entails an analysis of your website. It involves looking at many factors including the site structure, use of keywords, the sites content, page reloading times and the HTML and CSS that the site is created with. Good on-site SEO benefits the end user and also helps to avoid any technical “Gotchas” that search engines don’t like, such as duplicate content.

A good SEO begins by studying your site and making recommendations to improve an optimise the site for both users and search engines. Off site SEO involves creating relevant backlinks from other sites to yours.

Each one way link is counted by the search engines as a vote for your site. Websites have an authority score called Page rank. Each time a site links to you it shares a little bit of its page rank with you, links from high authority sites share more of this page rank than lower authority sites. Incoming links to a site are known as backlinks.

To follow as well as to Nofollow…

Some links carry no authority at all, many links carry a nofollow credit that tell the search engines not to count that link as a vote. Web owners and bloggers might add this credit themselves if they don’t their backlink to be counted as a vote for the external site or it could be automatically added by the platform they are using to publish their content, this is often the case when a site offers its user to add comments or content and the webmaster has little control over what links get created by the sites allies.

Links without the nofollow credit are termed “dofollow” and pass page rank from your page to the linked page. In HTML there is no actual dofollow credit, dofollow happens by default in the absence of a nofollow credit. You should never nofollow internal links as this will cause any page rank that would have been passed compared to that backlink to just evaporate!

Where Did You get Those Links?

You should ask your SEO how they will create backlinks, a good SEO will try to build a varied one way link past record for you. This past record should include high value links that are found in bodies of text such as web sites. These usually carry the most page rank but also require the most work as the SEO will need to build connections with blog owners and often supply content themselves.

Any good SEO look for quality over quantity, anyone promising a high number of links is probably best avoided. The search engines like to see “Natural Links of Love”, a few high quality links can be a lot further than many cheap links.

Other linking strategies include using quality business directories or commenting on blogs and boards as well as using social media and social bookmark creating sites.

Link exchanges are best avoided as these two way links don’t look like natural links. Search engines can see the internet as a series of connected nodes and easily detect unpleasant patterns like this.

Your business, Your needs

Your SEO should hit on you about your business needs and goals and also try to understand as much as they can about your target audience. If they don’t do this they likely are unlikely to pick keywords that will attract and convert the right audience for you business. They should conduct extensive keyword research and be able to identify the keywords that will bring in more of the right traffic. Traffic is useless if it doesn’t convert!