SEO Keywords 101: Back to the Basics
by Josette Millar
It is almost certain you have seen the acronym SEO around, and grasped that it has some importance to online marketing, but despite the commonality of the term there is still a lot of confusion about what it means and how best to use it.
Definitions and Origins
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to the process of shaping your website in order to improve its place on search engines when searches are made. This is unpaid, also known as organic, visibility, distinct from paid advertising, but it can be very important to success.
As the Internet began to explode in popularity in the mid-1990’s, the first search engines emerged to help users locate the websites of interest to them. At first this was a simple matter of submitting a site URL to search engines, but it was soon realized that having a higher ranking in the results meant more visibility. So, just as search engines developed in sophistication, SEO was born.
Evolution and Competition
SEO is a constantly changing field. This is driven in part by the development of search engines. Developers are constantly trying to improve their own service, reacting to changing customer needs, new technology, and new ideas.
It is also partly driven by the competition between different companies and businesses, who are all trying to find the best way to make use of SEO keywords. The difficulty this creates for companies is that they must invest in keeping up with (or even pioneering) SEO. Establishing a single methodology may work for a time, but it will become obsolete as the field moves on.
Staying up to date with the evolving field of SEO is a challenge. However, meeting this challenge could mean a huge breakthrough in visibility for your company. Here are some guidelines for best practices:
- Any site that links to another indexed site will be found by search engine ‘crawlers’. There is no need to submit your website anymore, but a profusion of relevant links is excellent.
- You need to carefully consider SEO keywords. People get annoyed if they get results they don’t care about, and spamming keywords looks unprofessional, and is a common hallmark of online scams.
- Using so-called ‘black hat’ methods, like hiding keywords offscreen or behind pictures, is a quick way to get banned from search engines.
- Generally speaking, you should create the site for users whilst making it easy for crawlers to find it, rather than making a site for search engines themselves.
Internal vs. Outsourcing
The above steps are ones anyone can follow, especially when it comes to SEO keywords. Simply think about what your prospective customers might be looking for and how they will search for it, keeping in mind geographic factors. However, for the intricacies of how to design a site that is centered for the user, but keeps SEO central, a professional from outside may be the wiser choice. Similarly, it is prudent to find a professional to help you keep updated with important changes, such as new search algorithms that could dramatically influence how search engines categorize results.
Proper use of SEO keywords is one of the keys to a successful online presence, and good placement in the natural results found by people running their own searches should be a top priority. However, remember that foremost the site is designed for the user, not the search engine, and must be both convenient and honest. Remember also that there are other avenues of online presence to explore, such as paid advertising on search results or pay-per-click ads on other sites.