Understanding Search Engine Optimization at the Basic Level

Download our Understanding Search Engine Optimization at the Basic Level Whitepaper

(This is from a whitepaper written for Vario Creative some time ago, but still pertinent – MNC)

In the past couple years the dominance in the search engine market of Google™ and their dependence upon “the Google algorithm” for generating results has created a new area of specialization in web design firms called “Search Engine Optimization.” There are all kinds of businesses now that are making all kinds of interesting promises and statements about the industry. On the subject of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there is only one statement I can truly make with anything approaching 100% certainty:

“Anyone who promises or guarantees that they can get you top Google ranking for a keyword is at best a liar, and most probably something worse.”

Now that sounds a little harsh. It is meant to sound exactly that way. Read on to find out why.

Search Engine Optimization is more akin to alchemy than it is to computer science. It’s a black art, in which the rules are amorphous, and often, that which works this month (or more appropriately for this Google update, which occurs usually at the end of the month) may not work next month, or at some point in the future, as the sands of Internet shift, or as Google’s algorithm is tweaked by their programmers to keep people from “gaming” their system. And “gaming” the Google system is exactly what SEO is all about.

How Does Google Work
Let’s keep it simple – think of a giant database of information which you are able to interact with to find the addresses and information you want. You input a few words and you get your results in the form of often numerous pages of results, generally with about 20 results per page. This database is built by the Googlebots (automated scripts that literally read the content off websites, determining what the content is about, the address of the pages, etc., then putting it into the database. At a certain point during the month (usually, but not always) Google applies it’s algorithm (a mathematical formula) to determine the relationships of the content of the Internet, examines links to and from the pages of the Internet, and what the Googlebots thought the content was about. Then it further refines the relative importance of pages when a term is entered into the search engine, as it compares the results of the several keywords you may have entered and
tries to present appropriate results.

SEO Tricks
The truth of the SEO business is that most of the dark tricks that are used by the unscrupulous to get results they don’t deserve eventually come back to haunt them. Cloaking (showing one page to a user, another to Google), Stealth Keywords (script generated or white text on a white page) have been popular ways of attaining higher results than your content dictates, and they’ve been unmasked and those found using them are punished by Google. Now, think about it for minute…what kind of punishment can Google inflict on you? That’s right, they remove your results or give you a LOWER page rank.

The short version of the story is, don’t use tricks. They’ll eventually catch up with you.

SEO and Web Design
Again, a nasty little truth: There is a thin line that must be walked in doing Search Engine Optimization on your site. What is good for SEO may often run contrary to the ultimate goal of your site. In other words, that which you may have to do to your site to bring the users in, may also help to repel them once they get there. It may also impede your message, your call to action (which you should have throughout your site) and generally make a mess out of what would otherwise be a nice site.

Localization
Vario Creative targets, among other keywords, Web Design. Honestly, we don’t ever expect to become the top result for Web Design, and if we did, I have start to question the validity of the results. That’s because there are a lot of other sites on the Internet that deserve the top position. And the same may be true for your business. Let’s face it, if you’re an Attorney, the chance of you getting the top spot for the keyword “Lawyer” is minimal. We get around this barrier, by considering how actual users will search when they want to find us. Yes, they may type in “lawyer” but they’ll find out what we already know: That the top 10 pages of results don’t contain any pertinent local results. After all, if I want someone to handle my property sale and I live in Stow, MA, I want a lawyer in Stow, or nearby. So the next step they’d try the keywords “lawyer Stowe” which might do the trick for them. Or it might not, as they’d see valid results from Stowe, VT, Stowe, VA, Stowe, ME, etc. Since we want results from Stowe, Massachusetts, we’d really want to target them.

Hence I’d target for the keywords “lawyer Stow Massachusetts” and probably some sub-keywords, such as “Real Estate Transfer Stow Massachusetts” – then I’d go after Central Massachusetts, and also the surrounding towns to Stow. After all, those are the folks we truly want.

The Right Way to Good Results
Vario Creative believes in getting results the old fashion way – by earning them. Yes, we do Search Engine Optimization, but we refuse to guarantee results and you’ll find we honestly won’t promise you much. That’s the way it should be. We go about getting results for our clients by helping them to build websites that adhere to the best practices. We work with your content, develop appropriate keyword lists, work with your keywords, page naming conventions, and most importantly, to help develop a clear message for your site in support of the keywords that are important to you.

The truth of Search Engine Optimization is that while one can use all the tricks, nothing gets a better ranking in the long run than good, well optimized content. And we can help you develop that – call us and let’s talk!

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