This is a follow up to our infographic in regards to the SEO forecast for 2013.
What is SEO?
Simply put, SEO is the process of improving your organic rankings in the search engines.
The definition of SEO hasn’t changed since the beginning of time, but the process has.
For those of you who have not experienced SEO until recently, let me briefly explain how the SEO landscape has changed.
In the early days of search engines, anyone with access to the Internet could do it because it was easy to game the system. When we think of SEO in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s, we think of link exchanges, link farms and mindless directory submissions. There was little to worry about as there were no repercussions for black-hat SEO strategies back then. Webmasters freely exchanged links or paid for links openly without regard to quality or relevancy. This caused problems for Google because their search results became flooded with spam sites.
Today, however, things are much different. Search engine algorithms have evolved and Google is less tolerant of shady SEO practices. Many of the techniques that worked back then, do not work now. In fact, these techniques of yesteryear could potentially get your site penalized or banned.
So, what has changed?
Leading search engines, like Google and Bing, are much more advanced and can for the most part separate quality from thin spammy sites.
SEO isn’t simply about building links. It requires industry knowledge and experience, and reaches across many different departments. As an SEO by today’s standard, you are no longer limited to being a link builder, you also need to be a writer, a marketer, a sales person, an analyst, a researcher, and somewhat of a technical person.
Think about it… How do you create new content? By being a writer. How do you write sales copy that convert? By being a marketer. How do you negotiate deals? By being a sales person. How do you understand analytics reports? By being an analyst. How do you research markets and discover targeted keywords for your business? By being a researcher. How do you optimize your on-site SEO factors? By being a semi-technical person.
Learn before you do
You should learn about SEO even before you build your website. Why? If you don’t know about SEO, how will you know how to best optimize your website to be search engine friendly? Also, staying on top of the latest search engine algorithms will help you implement the best practice SEO techniques.
Even if you plan on hiring someone to do the SEO work, you should at least understand the basics of SEO, so you know what you are paying for. Planning your SEO strategy is only half the battle. The other half is taking action on your plan.
There is a great deal of information out there and a lot to take in, but at some point, you need to put what you learned into action. Because without action, there is no reaction. And, the reaction in this case are the results of your SEO effort.
I would recommend that people do SEO on their own if possible. You are the expert of your business and you know what type of customers you want. This already gives you a head start. If you don’t have the time to do SEO on your own or you prefer not to, then you can always hire an SEO company. But proceed with caution – a cheap service usually translates to poor quality. These cheap SEO services typically use the old, outdated techniques that do more harm than good. In the long run, you would be spending more money on cleaning up the mess left behind by the cheap SEO service. Don’t risk it – do it right the first time.