The Internet has become the second home to billions of people worldwide. Businesses, big and small, can no longer deny the importance of having online presence. One major factor for having good online presence is ranking high on search engines. This is where SEO comes in.
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1. What is SEO?
SEO is the abbreviation for search engine optimization. Essentially, it is about making a website as presentable as possible to search engines so they’d rank higher and appear on the first pages of web search results. This is done through both on-site optimization, which deals with the technical aspects of the actual website’s structure, contents and appearance; and off-site optimization, which deals with building relationships with other webmasters and communities to attract links.
The origin of the term itself is up to debate. Some of the first Internet marketers Bob Heyman, Danny Sullivan, Bruce Clay and Per Dahlin all have claims to coining the term SEO. As for the method, it has been in practice in the mid-90s, when search engines first came to be.
2. What set of skills must I have in order to do SEO well?
Although I don’t believe in any hard and fast set of skills that will guarantee success in SEO, there are certain characteristics that will help make the job much easier. Here are two that are invaluable:
- Knowing how to communicate well with people is one of the more important ones. As previously stated, half of SEO is building relationships with people in other websites and in all sorts of online communities. Although you’ll be mostly communicating through a computer, you’ll still have to be able to make your intentions clear, while not coming off as rude. You also have to deal with clients and all their demands.
- Having the thirst for knowledge is another major positive trait due to the inherently volatile world of SEO. Search engines constantly update their algorithms, the popularity of keywords rises and falls in time, and the competition is only getting fiercer. Discovering and applying new techniques to get to the top of the rankings must be done continuously.
3. Why do people hire SEOs?
Of course, just having those two skills won’t be enough to do SEO well. If that were the case, everybody who owns a website would rather just do it by him/herself. Professional SEO practitioners know more than just plugging in a couple of keywords into articles and submitting websites to directories.
We run analytics on multiple domains tracking which keywords bring in more visitors, which sites provide backlinks, how well structured a website’s internal links are, and so much more. We also look up our client’s competitors’ websites to know what methods they’re employing, we run outreach campaigns to webmasters from all over the world, and we always keep an ear on the ground for any news regarding search engine algorithm updates, breakthrough techniques and a number of other related things in the industry.
And all these require plenty of time and money. It’s a full-time job.
4. Does Google Love or Hate SEO?
Google is the leading search engine in the world, so all SEO specialists have to cater to its needs. Its guidelines for websites to rank highly boils down to the simple manner of having fresh content that attract natural links in a structurally sound website. Good SEO or “white hat” SEO basically does just that, and Google has no problem with it.
Conversely, there are SEO practitioners who would rather exploit loopholes in the system to get instant high rankings instead of using ethical techniques. That kind of SEO is either black or grey hat depending on the severity of their actions. Google hates black and grey hat SEO, penalizing websites through lower rankings or banning them outright.
5. What do you mean by White Hat, Grey Hat and Black Hat SEO?
To get more specific, white hat SEO covers all the techniques that search engines accept such as inserting the right amount of keywords in the content, creating a sitemap for search engine “spiders” that crawl websites, getting external links from other websites through promoting fresh content, and more.
Black hat SEO sets out to fool search engines through techniques like keyword stuffing, connecting with link farms, and simply copying content. Grey hat SEO walks the thin line between black and white hat SEO with methods like building links with popular websites that are not relevant, pushing the limit of accepted keyword density for content, and scheming with other websites to link to one another simply for pure rankings.
6. What are PageRank and Alexa Rank?
SEO specialists use plenty of tools to figure out how well a website is doing. Google Toolbar is one such tool with a metric called PageRank. PageRank shows a number from 0 to 10 to indicate a website’s popularity, with 10 being the most popular. At times, “n/a” appears where the number should be to indicate a website that hasn’t been ranked. The basic factors that determine a website’s PageRank are the number, the authority and the relevance of the external links of that website.
Alexa Rank is based on the web information company Alexa. It ranks all the websites that it has indexed according to their traffic. Ranks can go from 0 for one that has unimaginably high traffic to the corresponding number for the least popular website. Thus, the higher the number, the lower the traffic is.
7. What should I avoid when doing SEO?
Getting into SEO is an exciting experience, but some newbies eager to dive into the process are prone to committing some mistakes. Some of the more common ones that should be avoided are linking each page in a website to all the other pages in an attempt to make navigation “easier”, forgetting to update sitemaps that leave broken links, focusing on one popular anchor text for backlinks, and directing those backlinks mostly to the website’s home page.
8. What’s the difference between Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine marketing or SEM is a broader term that deals with all sorts of methods using search engines to garner attention for a website, including SEO. This usually involves paying for immediate placements on search engines or directories, and placing straightforward advertisements on websites depending on the relevancy of the content.
Simply put, SEO is all about achieving results organically, while SEM is more of the traditional and aggressive form of getting people to visit websites and purchase products.
9. Will SEO stay for a long time?
There have been plenty of people crying out that SEO is dead or dying. Although these claims have been generally exaggerated, there are some real issues that the industry now faces and must resolve in order to survive in the long run. Google is beginning to use personalized searches, which show results based on an individual’s own search history. Social media has become integral to the online experience; and algorithms are weeding out more and more techniques that used to work in the past.
However, I do believe that people will still have good use of SEO simply for the reason that SEO specialists know how to adapt. We have built, and will continue to build large networks in social media platforms. We develop more tools to make our job easier, and we are always coming up with new techniques to go with the changes.
10. Who do I follow on Social Networks/Blogs if I want to learn more about SEO?
Hopefully I’ve given satisfying answers to the basic questions in this article, but I’m sure that you still have plenty of more advanced questions that need more detailed responses. Here are five websites that will help you along your journey of learning more about SEO:
SEOMoz- One of the biggest SEO websites that not only provides the best tools, but also great content from the industry’s leading experts including the site owner, Rand Fishkin.
Search Engine Journal- This website contains all the latest news regarding the industry, as well as various content covering link building methods, social media use, and more.
SEO Book- Beginners like you will want to check this out as it offers more than a hundred training modules, SEO tools, tips and a very welcoming community.
Search Engine People- Besides having all the best SEO services, it also has a very insightful blog, a lot of useful tools, and news updates.
Search Engine Land- For a comprehensive view on SEO, visit this website by Danny Sullivan packed with news, columns, guides and tips on dealing with social media and SEM.