Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most popular buzzwords in the marketing industry. It is also one of the most misunderstood terms, very much overused and often incorrectly implemented. In this article I would like to clear up some misconceptions and misunderstandings.
1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimisation are distinct and unrelated services
SEO is a completely different service to SEM. SEO generally refers to action a web developer or a SEO professional can take to improve the Search Engine Result Position (SERP) of your website. This generally refers to organic website rankings, i.e. search results that do not incur a cost per click (CPC).
SEM involves placement of your advertisement in paid search results – e.g. the widely-known Google AdWords service. This could also refer to paid advertisements placed through online publisher networks.
The key difference is that with SEO, you should be paying for improvements to your website that work and build up over the long term. With SEM, you are paying for an immediate marketing campaign. SEO can not deliver a result tomorrow – while a SEM, at least in theory, should. SEO is a long term strategy and SEM is simply a service with a positive or negative return on investment (ROI).
2. Getting on the first page on search engines
Unless, you are in a very niche industry with very few competitors, getting on the first page of search results is akin to climbing mountain Everest. It can be done, but the resources required will be gargantuan and out of reach. If your business is one of the more popular services (e.g. real estate), getting to the first page will simply be impossible and making any sort of progress will require nothing short of a full-time employed webmaster (or many) working on your website. The truth is, websites in the more competitive industries that are popular actually do have employed personnel working on updating content and making improvements on a daily basis.
If anybody comes in and offers to get you on the first page on Google, think again. The SEO industry is rife with dishonest operators with no credentials that are only too happy to take your hard earned money. If it was that simple, everybody would be on the first page.
3. There are only a few shortcuts
Although there are quite a lot of correct moves and techniques that can be taken during the development of your website, there isn’t much post production quick fixes or adjustments per se.
SEO is a process done from the ground up with quite a bit of planning, and there isn’t much you can do to existing websites. The best course of action is to start over with good development practices and take effort to save the link juice that has already been built up with previous efforts.
4. Black Had techniques do exist
Good and ethical SEO practices are generally referred to as “White-Hat SEO”. There is also another realm called “Black-Hat SEO”. Black-Hat SEO involves specifically building a website to be read by Search Engines – and not humans, thus achieving higher results. A quick search on the internet quickly brings up a whole list of techniques SEO experts use to aggressively manipulate search results.
Black-Hat SEO practices are frowned upon Search Engines and may lead to a penalty against your websites. It takes a small mistake to trigger a manual review of your website and undo a lot of hard work.
5. Your website can “dance” for a while – if it’s new
It takes a long time for your website to settle in search results. This has a special term and is referred to as a “dance”.
While search engine algorithms are kept a well-hidden secret, observation tells us that new websites are definitely inflicted with an artificial penalty for a long time before they are moved up to their proper position in the search results.
The lesson to take from this is to definitely plan your SEO process ahead. If you are expecting your website to generate leads, start early and give plenty of time.
6. Most websites have no visitors
And the most important point is that most websites out there have virtually no traffic. i.e. less than 5 genuine visitors a day.
The truth is such that most of the website traffic that analytics software registers is pure garbage. There is a long list of software automatically scouring the internet 24/7 – search engine spiders, various tools, robots designed to post comment spam, etc. A lot of this traffic is disguised as genuine and real visitors (I will forgo on the techniques and principles to keep the article simple) for both malicious and honest reasons.
If one is to implement a tool into a website that allows manual review of each hit/session, it is possible to spot and identify some of this false traffic by patterns.
The rather grim news, is that while the Internet is quite a popular place, it can also be very lonely for new entrants. It takes a phenomenal amount of work to create a website capable of generating leads on its own. False expectations only lead to disappointment down the track.
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