The aim of SEO is to achieve a satisfactory Page Rank, one of the algorithms used by Google to order search engine results, where a relevant key phrase search will place your website in the first few pages of a search engine’s results and ideally on the first page. Page Rank is a mathematical hyperlink analysis ranking based on a numerical weighting of the relative ranking of hyperlinks to a website page. First page in a Google search as the outcome would be quite an achievement considering your website is one of hundreds of millions of websites all competing for visitors. The best way to achieve this is to provide quality and relevant content that is linked to by other websites.
For SEO is all about page content, key phrases and well-built standards-compliant fast loading organically-linked websites. It is ancient history to believe that keyword stuffing, keywords in the meta-keyword tag and low quality backlinks from link farms are of value. Content is truly now, and always has been, king. Good content will bring in organic links to your website and will avoid the dangers of paid links. This article on an SEO Blueprint provides useful information to help your content and pages rank well for search engines.
An SEO agency generally has an SEO manager as well as analysts, link builders and content writers. They might develop a large personal blog network (PBN) that consists of a number of high domain authority and page authority blogs that they own and host on separate servers which are then linked to their clients’ sites. This could have a significant effect on improving page rank. However, high end agencies do not use link networks because of the danger that their clients could be penalised by Google for using paid links. There is the added danger that low quality SEO companies can dramatically damage page rank through inferior mass scale forum spam, low quality blog and article directories and mass interlinking that might include using your website to automatically generate links for their other customers. Blog networks that are formed to create and sell irrelevant back links with good page ranks are penalised by Google.
A back link analysis can be used to review link profile data. Free link reports can be obtained from Open Site Explorer.
Be wary about paying an SEO company to do search engine optimisation for you. Most of your SEO should already have been completed organically with the website and its content. If you do want to pay someone thousands of dollars then the most effective way to spend that money, given that the platform is set up properly, is to pay Google for AdWords. However, if you want to follow that path, there are many companies that provide a service in keyword analysis and SEO, including free tools and training, such as WordStream and The Hoth.
On-page SEO is now a priority with the focus on following Google’s quality guidelines by using good quality content or services. Page content should be in articles (including blogs) and in product descriptions with unique content on each page. Web pages need to be well formed (standards-compliant code) and fast loading (images optimised and non-bloated code). SEO should be about extending your website across the major social media channels from within the content of your homepage, with good content bringing in outside links and natural traffic from those channels. The focus is on using good content to generate traffic and natural backlinks.
An explanation of Google’s requirements can be found at Kissmetrics in an article called Should You Change Your SEO Strategy Because of Google Hummingbird?. In summary, apart from content being king and keywords are now key phrases (or “Long Tail Keywords”), a website should have a comprehensive FAQ page, a Q&A blog category, articles on “How to do things”, interviews, research pages, pages written with expertise and with information gathering questions (such as those starting with “Who”, “What”, “Where”, “When”, “Why” and “How”) followed by factual answers.
Small businesses should ensure they have their name, address, phone number and reputable identifiers such as an Australian Business Number (ABN) with a .com.au or .net.au domain name to enable Google and other search engines to determine that the business is legitimate. It also allows better geo-targeted results.
SEO success should be supplemented through willingly-targeted customers and returning business. This can be achieved by the collection of email addresses provided when your customers sign up for free items such as an eBook, a video of your business activities on how to do things or for discount vouchers. Those customers can opt-in for promotional emails that will bring them back to your website. Those valuable customers are proven to be interested in what you provide. This is more cost-effective than spamming mass email to uninterested people.
Promotion of your website and business, spreading the word and getting people interested is what SEO is all about. This will not occur using the superseded methods of old SEO. Ignore cold-calling SEO companies that at vast expense want to use the old disreputable techniques of link farming and forum spamming that are now penalised by Google. In Australia, Google has 94% (with Bing around 5% and Yahoo about 1%) of the search market so the strategy is now about providing content, effectively using social media and marketing, having business relationships with your customers and having a quality business with a quality website with quality organically-generated links.