SEO - What You Need to Know
Properly done, Search Engine Optimization () has the potential to greatly increase the amount of traffic to a website. Poorly done, or worse, done using unethical techniques, it has the potential of having a website penalized, or even blocked from the Search Engine Results Pages ( ). Unfortunately, there is no industry certification for SEO professionals. However, understanding a little of the SEO process can help you in selecting the right SEO consultant for your job.
Good SEO is a balance between giving your visitors a good experience when they visit your site, and a design that caters to search engines. While catering only to search engines may give you a higher listing on the SERP, it will drive away customers. Conversely, a site with a lot of graphics, Flash or other "eye candy" will not rank as well with search engines.
The SEO process can be broken down into the following three distinct parts:
- In the first part, we tell the search engine what your site is about. For a search engine, a web page has three critical parts:
- The title -- that is what you see at the top of your
- The description -- which you don't normally see but is displayed as part of the search results
- The body -- this is the part that everyone sees.
- In the second part, called "link building", we tell the search engine how reliable your information is. This is more of an ongoing process than a function with a distinct beginning and end. The search engine rates the value of the information by counting the number of links to your site. Each link is a"weighted" vote. More value is given to a site that is itself rated highly, and is on the same general topic. As an example, for a "B&B", a link from Tourism BC may be more valuable than a link from a personnel website.
- In the third part, there is the analysis. Even the best SEO consultant doesn't always get it right the first time. The results of any changes must be measured and analyzed. Things that work stay; things that didn't work are changed. And then the process starts again.
Of course this is a simplified overview of the SEO process. The Internet is a good source for additional information. In particular "How to Hire a Good SEO Expert" part 1 and part 2 are good, reliable resources.
As with any business decision, a basic understanding of what you are buying and how it will affect your business, is crucial. While the application of SEO techniques is a very specialized field, the overlying principles are not. By becoming familiar with these principles, you can save your business time and money.