Search Engine Optimization: a meaningless sound bite or an extremely important online marketing tool?

What is it?

Many firms, whether they are service, manufacturing or retail based face two problems when it comes to promoting their company online: the first being understanding the sheer amount of internet and computer programming jargon there is around today, and secondly, when it has been identified what kinds of things may help, understanding how specifically they can help. One such term is SEO or Search Engine Optimization. The big question is what does this actually mean? It is all very well for example saying that you are planning to optimize your website under the assumption that simply by setting your company up with an online blog or getting one of your mates websites to host a link through to your own is enough. In reality the term search engine optimization is more than a sound bite or a general description for increasing your online presence; it refers to a structured marketing approach designed to increase the exposure and hit rate to your site online. In fact its simple yet catchy acronym of SEO or SEOing belies the more complicated nature of achieving the desired result.

How is it different to any other kind of marketing?

Perhaps the first thing to note is that Search Engine Optimization is a form of marketing beyond your traditional ad campaigns. In the past the only way to reach your target market and intended audience was to put adverts in the paper, run television campaigns and even handing out flyers and leaflets. Since the rise of the internet this has changed and the internet has arguably become the primary tool for at least seeking out if not buying from businesses. The problem with this is that firms have a lot less control over marketing strategies over the internet than using more conventional mediums, as the ways of reaching their target market are not so straight forward. With millions and millions of sites, and indeed hundreds of online businesses making the same thing or providing the same service the only way to gain exposure is to get your firm to near the top of a list which presents itself after you have put in your keyword into one of the popular search engines such as Google or Yahoo. In doing this consumers will have more confidence in the credibility of your firm, whilst as you will no doubt have done yourself, people are generally unwilling to scrawl through several pages when their needs have already been met on the first. How can all this be achieved then? The answer is simple: employ the services of a Search Engine Optimizer! Thus it should now be clear that they do have a specific role to perform and the idea that Search Engine Optimization is more than mere jargon firmly established. The next question to ask then is whether there is any skill involved or to put it another way, how do they do it?

How does it work?

Some of the key goals for Search Engine Optimization firms include increasing the number of inbound links to a site and getting people to social bookmark a site, all with the intention of helping the client get their company ultimately to the number one Google spot for a certain key word or words. There are a variety of techniques for doing this, some more kosher than others! Some of the more frowned upon black hat techniques which no reputable SEO firm would use include spamming and keyword stuffing. Spamming can include for example sending out unwanted and irrelevant emails with links to your clients website or leaving irrelevant comments on other peoples blogs. Instead of these somewhat underhand and dishonest techniques, Search Engine Optimizers adopt numerous techniques essentially to create links to the website in question. These techniques include article writing, writing press releases and blog content and link building, and will also extend to editing the actual written content on the website itself and the relevant HTML text and coding. By carrying out work involving these techniques Search Engine Optimizers can ensure that when search engines such as Google or Yahoo look at your website to decide where it should be ranked, your website will appear near the top! The great thing about optimizing your site is that it will come up at the top of a Google list often when internet surfers arent necessarily looking for your company in particular. If your website appears near the top of the list it may well be that numerous causal visitors check out your site. In this way employing an SEO firm may be the best marketing exercise you could do for your business, as the exposure it can get for you is potentially massive.

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