At PCCC, we are asked about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) quite often. If you don't know what it is, SEO is the process of refining your website to increase the visibility and ranking of your website for search engines. Since people use search engines to find everything on the web, good SEO can have a big impact on your firm's bottom-line.
Unfortunately, the search engine optimization industry is full of people trying to work the system and use tricks to increase ranking. PCCC despises this and believes that the better approach to SEO is what we have named "Organic" SEO. But to understand the good methods, you have to understand a little about the bad methods first.
The problem with using bad SEO methods or tricks is that it just doesn't work in the long-term. For example, tricks such as pages full of keywords specifically break Google's indexing requirements. (see http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769 for Google's Webmaster Guidelines).
The very real danger of using these tricks is that search engines can and will de-index your site for using improper SEO methods. By that time, many of the SEO firms have already been paid and frankly don't give a damn that you've been de-listed.
And, as you can see at: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35843&hl=en, reconsideration for indexing with Google is a very common thing that companies have to do. Too often, this is caused by people responding to $69 spam SEO advertisements which backfire.
Any firm considering doing SEO should pay careful attention to the verbiage Google uses for reconsideration of a site:
"Tell us more about what happened: what actions might have led to any penalties, and what corrective actions have been taken. If you used a search engine optimization (SEO) company, please note that. Describing the SEO firm and their actions is a helpful indication of good faith that may assist in evaluation of reconsideration requests. If you recently acquired this domain and think it may have violated the guidelines before you owned it, let us know that below. In general, sites that directly profit from traffic (e.g. search engine optimizers, affiliate programs, etc.) may need to provide more evidence of good faith before a site will be reconsidered."
The moral to the story is, You need to know what actions the firm you choose for SEO is going to use!
PCCC recommends using Organic Methods where you add content that benefits the web correctly and in return, organically, your search ranking increases. Steps that we have found that assist in this process are:
Step 1 -- Use https://www.google.com/webmasters and subscribe the site. Create a PDF record before you start your SEO so you have measurable base point for comparison!
Step 2 -- Add content to your site that may seem oblique but is relevant. Make a goal of publishing one item to your website per week. For a dentist, this might be an article on good flossing. For a lawyer, it might be a 2 paragraph opinion on a recent legal case. For an accountant, it could be a tax preparation calendar.
Step 3 -- Implement good, standard web design:
Step 4 -- Allow for no LESS than 6 months for results. Anything sooner is likely someone leading you down a primrose path or an SEO trick akin to a "get rich quick" scheme that is likely to fail!
Step 5 -- Focus only on the big search engines: Currently this would be Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Ask. However, according to Hitwise, Google currently handles more than 70% of the searches in the world.
Step 6 -- Identify between 5 & 10 phrases / keywords to focus your efforts.
Step 7 -- Perform Searches on the phrases / keywords you identify in addition to your firm's name and URL(s) in the top search engines!
Step 8 -- Contact the search engines for de-indexing of competitors using tricky SEO. This is a quick and easy way to increase your ranking!
Step 9 -- Look for listings with errors that you might be able to fix. For example, Google may list an old address for your firm at the top of the search results. Or you might be listed in a site that organizes companies by categories that might be erroneous or out of date. Check each site for their policy on corrections.
Step 10 -- Use advertisements such as Google Adwords with a budget of as little as $20 each month for 6 months to add extra impressions and hits to the site. Review this monthly.
Step 11 -- Specify in your terms and conditions that linking to the site is expressly permitted but do NOT participate in link exchanges. These are just another SEO trick!
And as a testament to our belief in Organic SEO, this article was added to our website on September 2nd, 2009!