Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of those buzzwords that many business owners have heard, some vaguely understand, but few really know how to implement — or even know how to make a decision about hiring someone to implement. It’s become almost standard for prospective clients to ask us if we ‘do SEO’, yet the reality of it is that most of those folks don’t really know what they’re asking.
And, to be honest, if often makes me cringe when a small business wants to optimize their site. While successful search engine optimization can have a tremendously positive impact on one’s ‘natural’ ranking in the search engine results, it’s rarely an easy or inexpensive proposition to do correctly, and most small business owners don’t really have a good handle on what’s involved.
And therein lies part of the problem: Far too many unethical Search Engine Optimization firms are more than willing to take clients’ money with vague promises of top rankings for ## keywords. Uninformed clients think it sounds terrific, until they discover that the keywords for which they’ve achieved top rankings are rarely used.
Or the optimizers who ‘game’ the system in an effort to improve search engine results. Short-term gains are often offset by long-term losses, particularly if the gaming leads to being banned on the search engines. (And it does happen, but that sounds like a good topic for a later article.)
Equally ineffective, though, are the so-called legitimate search engine optimization firms that really don’t ‘get it’. Keyword-rich content may be a plus, but there’s a not-so-fine line between writing for the search engines and writing for your site visitors. Here’s a funny video that captures the problem with excessive redundancy perfectly: