When you visit Google or any other search engine and type in keywords that are important to your business, do you see your listings anywhere on page one? If your answer is yes, great — keep up the good work! If your answer is no, it’s time to consider (or reconsider in this case) your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. When was the last time you reviewed your website from an Organic perspective? If your site is not optimized for the most important and relevant keywords, then you will not likely show up when someone searches for them. This is not to say that all you have to do is add some content to your site and poof — there you are, #1 in Google! Sorry, but that isn’t going to happen. Unlike paid search, which can garner results almost instantly, organic search takes time, patience and a knowledgeable team of SEO Engineers, who are well versed in the industry.
First, you will need to determine where your site is lacking in terms of being “Google Friendly”. We have created a rather robust document called our Search Engine Optimization Review, which I typically like to describe as a website report card. Here is how it works: Our SEO Engineers carefully review a site and provide a detailed written analysis, complete with prioritized action items, in order to get your website in better shape for organic search. This Review will look at every aspect of a website that matters to the search engines and ultimately affects rankings. Just a few topics that are focused on during this Review: domain configuration, navigation structure, content optimization, inbound and outbound link structure and much more.
No matter which tactics you employ, be sure to always follow a Best Practices/White Hat approach. In other words, do not ever do anything to trick or fool the engines. This approach is known as Black Hat and it will backfire eventually if not immediately. If you do decide to outsource your efforts to an agency, I encourage you to dig deep into their reputation, knowledge and experience as an SEO firm to ensure that they are not engaging in any tactics that would be considered unacceptable by Google or the other engines.
So you want to be #1 in Google, huh? Of course you do and you’re not alone, so does everybody else!
Unfortunately, ranking #1 organically (let alone in the top 10) in any search engine is not an easy task to accomplish, though not impossible either. You will need a solid action plan, a knowledgeable and reputable team well versed in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and an enormous amount of patience. Unlike paid search efforts, where you can receive almost instant gratification (barring the nuances of quality scores, expensive bid prices, etc.) from “buying” real estate in the sponsored results section, organic results do not occur overnight. It is best to be seen in both the organic results, as well as the paid.
See example of Nike in AdWords screenshot below. Notice that Nike.com is appearing #1 organically, as well as paying to be in the sponsored section. This reinforces their brand and provides the opportunity to take up more real estate on the page. Surprisingly many searchers do not understand or recognize the difference between a paid listing and an organic one. Nike is very smart to cover all the bases by ensuring that they are being seen in both places.
Sure, there is methodology that can be utilized to “trick” or “fool” Google into thinking that your site should rank higher than it actually should. In addition, there are a slew of non reputable companies that will offer empty promises and make all sorts of guarantees that sound way too good to be true. At the risk of sounding clichÃ©, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We strongly advise against employing any black hat tactics; you run the high risk of getting penalized or ultimately having your site completely banned from the SERPS.
Don’t take shortcuts, no matter how appealing they may seem. If you take the time to optimize your site the right way, you will reap the benefits over time. There are a myriad of elements that must be factored into an effective, long term SEO Strategy. Employ a credible and reputable SEO firm that will hold your hand and expertly guide you on your journey through the ever-changing algorithms set forth by the search engines.
I must sound like a broken record when I suggest (much too weak a word) that my clients follow all of the above, specifically with respect to the big players in the industry: Google, Yahoo and MSN. Search Engines are smart; real smart. You might be able to pull the wool over their eyes in the short term, but eventually you will get caught if you try to utilize Black Hat techniques to gain better traction within the organic (free) results. Everyone wants to be #1 in Google for their core keywords, however, there is no way to get there (and remain there) other than by making your website as search engine friendly as possible. What does that really mean? In the simplest of terms, there has to be a high degree of correlation between the keywords you want to show up under and the actual content on your website. The more targeted and relevant the content, the better chance you have of achieving natural positions for the keywords that are mission critical to your business.
All of that being said, one of the most frustrating things for marketers is when they optimize their site for natural search, while strictly following the rules and guidelines set forth by the engines and employ White Hat techniques yet they (A) do not see significant progress being made and/or (B) see their competition showing up under their core keywords. Even worse, the competition is not following a Best Practices approach. In other words they are doing things that are heavily frowned upon by the engines, such as: keyword stuffing, duplicate content, redirects, etc. A couple of important things to consider: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) must be viewed as an ongoing process and it can take several months to reap the rewards of optimizing your site. The search engines are always changing their algorithms and therefore, it is crucial to view SEO as a long term commitment. Your competition might not follow a Best Practices approach and utilize Black Hat methods to “get ahead”. Just because they are not being penalized at present, does not mean that they will not get caught eventually. I recently had a client who saw their competition using Black Hat techniques and achieving great organic results. They decided to utilize the same techniques and were banned from Google as a result. The moral of the story is that the best things come to those who wait. If you optimize your site and “make nice” to the search engines, you will maintain a long term presence in the engines.
Title: Being White Hat Pays Off in the Long Run!
Description: Discussed the importance of following a best practices approach
Keywords: White Hat, Black Hat, Best Practices, Search Engines, Marketers, keyword stuffing, duplicate content, redirects, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Google, Yahoo, MSN.