When it comes to search engine optimization, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Hiring local SEO specialists could make all the difference when it comes to potential customers finding you and making a purchase of your goods or services. These are professionals who have dedicated years of their lives, and added in plenty of after-hours learning, to get into their field.
Some of the words, phrases and jargon associated with SEO and digital marketing might seem confusing to us outsiders, so read on for a brief intro to some of the most commonly used terms.
Keywords are what makes search engine optimization work. These are the terms that the search engines, Google, Bing and Yahoo among the bigger names, are looking for. This is what tells the algorithm to pull your website up to the top of the search results. These phrases or single words are most likely to be the terms searched.
Keyword stuffing is when the content creator tries to put the same words or phrases into a piece of copy too many times. If the writing seems inconsistent or nonsensical, search engine algorithms will pick up on this, too.
SEO specialists should be using appropriate tools, such as Google’s keyword planner, to research the phrases and terms that are best used on your site. They should be appropriate to your content and services offered, and should be used to the tune of 1 to 2% of your overall copy.
An SEO professional has gone through hours of training to best understand what a keyword is, how to research it, and how to apply it throughout your online platforms. Plenty of expertise goes into researching and selecting keywords: it is almost an artform!
Black Hat SEO
Following on from keyword stuffing, black hat SEO is the practise of increasing a website’s search ranking through means that are technically legal, but morally dubious.
This can include acts like creating hidden pages or footers with keywords stuffed into them, duplicating content unnecessarily, and even buying links. What might seem like a smart way to get ahead could actually be very much frowned upon, and could get your website blocked from search listings all together.
Black hat SEO is most often undertaken by hackers, virus creators and all-round baddies. Knowing what it is and what could be classed as “black hat” could help innocent parties to avoid it by accident. A reputable SEO specialist should not have any truck with this kind of thing, and will be able to provide references and examples of their past work. Hiring an SEO professional, you should not have to worry at all about nefarious means of search engine optimisation.
The opposite of black hat SEO is, funnily enough, “white hat”. This is what your company should be stiving for: ranking high on search results through organic keywords, efficient and accessible website and social media content, and descriptive meta-tags.
One white hat method of search engine optimization is creating backlinks. This is when content across the internet links back to your website. These can also be known as incoming links or inbound links.
Backlinks are one of the ways in which search engines determine how credible your site is. This is one of the ways they value your website or online presence, and know where to rank you in search results for various keyword terms.
These links can be bought, but be wary — most of the big search engines have complex algorithms that can weed out inauthentic backlinks. As with the black hat tactics above, they aren’t worth trying: once Google, Bing and Yahoo recognise that the backlinks are not fairly won, they will remove your site from their listings all together.
A great SEO specialist will be able to build links by building relationships. This could mean working with previous or current customers, asking for endorsements; it could mean commenting on a partner — or even a competitor’s! — posts, especially on LinkedIn and other professional platforms. There are a number of ways in which an SEO specialist will be able to build backlinks to your website that are appropriate, authentic, and free.
Speak to your candidates and see if they can provide examples of work they have done for other clients, and check references and working practices. The likelihood is that every professional on your shortlist will be adept at white hat SEO methodology: the bad guys tend not to advertise themselves on the most trustworthy sites!
With so many ways to get SEO wrong, it might feel dangerous to try. Luckily, hiring the best SEO services, like a consultant or agency is the first and only step you need to take when it comes to digital marketing and search engine optimization. Hire the right person and put your feet up, confident you need not learn anymore SEO jargon.