Daily Archives: September 24, 2013

SEO: The Good and the Bad

Anyone remember a Buzzfeed writer’s essay-length potshot at The Oatmeal‘s Matthew Inman?

I do. As an avid reader of The Oatmeal, I read both the original essay and Inman’s rebuttal, but the thing that stood out to me from both articles was Inman’s past job as an SEO marketer.

SEO the good and the bad

According to Inman, he: “did SEO for a few months in my early 20s, sucked at it, and got banned by Google … I hated SEO when I did it, and I hate it now.”

That was my first introduction to SEO, and it was enough for me. I decided that SEO was bad and stupid, and I moved on.

Fast forward to this past week’s readings, and I learn that good SEO is what makes the web go ’round, especially for strong online communities. So what is this dark side of SEO that I hated so much?

Shady SEO is commonly known as black hat SEO. Black hat refers to a hacker who uses the Internet for selfish or harmful reasons, so someone who practices black hat SEO takes good SEO principles and exploits them for personal gain.

So what are some common black hat SEO techniques?

CLOAKING

If your website serves different set of content to search engines and users, you’re practicing cloaking. Cloaking usually involved baiting search engines with popular search terms; but when a user comes to your website, they find completely different content. Cloaking was one of the first abusive SEO practices to get banned by Google.

DUPLICATE CONTENT

If you are creating multiple webpages with the same content, you’re practicing duplicate content. The concept behind duplicate content is simple: the more pages you own with that content, the more likely users looking for that content will come to your pages than your competitors. In the long run, however, this makes your website less effective and confuses users.

LINK BUYING

If you are paying irrelevant websites to link back to your site to increase your perceived usefulness by search engines, you are link buying. SEO relies on the fact that the most websites that link to you, the more authoritative you are for that content. Link buying is like paying for

KEYWORD STUFFING

If you have pages of content that are simply popular keywords that aren’t relevant to your content, you are keyword stuffing. Another simple tactic that is pretty obvious upon discovery, and does more harm than good.

Search Engine Watch, E3ngage, and Forbes can give you more info on these tactics.

It seems that the key to avoiding bad SEO is that when creating your content, think of your users first. SEO does have a place in the success of a website, but only as a supplement to quality content to your community.

Have you heard of or personally encountered bad SEO before? Or did you have an opinion about SEO that changed after our class readings?

Why SEO is Important

So, you are creating a new website and you want to attract users. What is the first thing you need to think about? Well, for me, it’s the users. But how exactly do we attract users? The answer is search engine optimization, or commonly, SEO. According to Victoria Edward’s article SEO Basics: 8 Essentials When Optimizing Your Site, SEO is fundamental and essential. She also states:

SEO will help you position your website properly to be found at the most critical points in the buying process or when people need your site.

 

What is SEO?

Edward’s article does a great job explaining SEO in 2 simple phrases. The first purpose of SEO is to create a great user experience. To me, user experience is extremely important. How many of you would waste your time on a website where you have no clue how to even navigate the site? Last semester, I took a class called Information Architecture. We learned an incredible amount about what people look for in an effective site, and user experience and friendliness was at the top. After taking that class, it is easy to tell whether a site will be effective.

The second purpose of SEO is to communicate to different search engines (one example is Google) so that they can recommend your website for relevant searches. Everything you do to make your site as effective as you can, such as having great content and great information architecture is beneficial, but will not matter as much if SEO is not a focus.

 

Taken from Wikimedia Commons

Taken from Wikimedia Commons

 

So why exactly is it important? 

Now that we know exactly what SEO entails, it is time to unravel the importance of it. Rank Executives, an internet marketing company, wrote an excellent article titled 10 Benefits of SEO. After reading and analyzing this article, you can’t help but to think that SEO is crucial to businesses. Ultimately, SEO is important for YOU. With SEO, you can see a clear increase in site traffic, and one of the big benefits is that you will stand out. With roughly 250 million websites on the web, it can be very difficult to make a name for yourself, especially in a competitive market. Also, according to Rank Executives, 60% of clicks go to the first result. So, only 40% of clicks on search engines go to the second thru millionth result. Securing that top spot would definitely gain thousands and thousands of visitors. The big question: Wouldn’t you want to be #1?

Summary

Since we now have an understanding of SEO and understand the importance of it, it is time to to optimize your site. SEO should always be thought about. Skipping out will do nothing but hurt you since you will lose out on maximizing revenue opportunities.

Questions to Consider

  • Can you think of other benefits of SEO?
  • Do you have any experiences optimizing a website?