I had a case study from my school that required me to learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I had been in the internet for a while but I didn’t really know about SEO in depth. But, at first, my first task was to identify the different between Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and SEO. It sounded very similar but they were different. The SEM involved the pay advertisement, such as pay-per-click advertisement, the SEO, on the other hand, did not. So, the next step, I browsed wikipedia to learn more about this SEO.
According to Wikipedia, SEO is an act to improve the volume or quality of traffic for “unpaid” or organic search result. It is exactly what I mention above, that it does not involve any paid advertisement. The SEO can cover image search, local search, video search and industry specific vertical search. To do so, we need to understand how a search engine work. So, the next step, I looked at Google.
Again, according to Wikipedia, Google sorts its result based on pagerank, keyword, meta tags, headings, links, site structure and another 200 signals (really?). And I tried to look at a company that provided an SEO consultation, it is grantasticdesigns.com. In its seo.html webpage, it stated that it provided the following services:
- keyword research
- keyword placement like titles, meta tags and web texts
- html and scripting service that aligns with the SEO strategy
- information pages (I will talk about this later on)
- website visibility
White-hat and Black-hat SEO
Another thing that I found pretty interesting was black-hat and white-hat SEO. Just like the black-hat and white-hat hacker, the black-hat and white-hat hackers have the same characteristics, i.e. illegal and legal SEO practices. The white-hat SEO conforms to the search engines’ guidelines and involves no deception. It also ensures that the content a search engine indexes and subsequently ranks in the same content a user will see. It creates content for users, makes content easily accessible to the spiders, and does not attempt to trick the search engines’ algorithm.
On the other hand, the black-hat SEO performs keyword stuffing and hidden text knowing that Google takes keywords as criteria in sorting. By repeating the same phrases over and over, the page can be ranked higher. As the content is generated for the search engine, not the user, the website tends to hide these repeating keywords in meta tags or by using “Z” CSS or noscript techniques. Link farming considers the Google PageRank algorithm, in which the page is ranked based on the number of banklink to page. By creating many websites with a link pointing to the targeted website, the targeted website’s rank could be improved. Blog comment spam is similar to the link farming, but instead of creating many websites, many comments pointing to the targeted website are created. Doorway pages are basically useless pages that redirect connection to the targeted website. If the pages are “somewhat” useful, they will be called as information pages, which are belong to the white-hat SEO. It is a subjective call.
Successful Internet Marketing Campaign
How do we measure the success of the SEO?
- Drive organic traffic to web pages
- Build high quality web pages to engage and persuade
- Address technical issues that may keep search engines from crawling and indexing those sites
- Set up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure their success
- Improve the site conversion rate, i.e. improve number of sales per click
The downside of SEO is that it depends on organic search traffic, instead of the paid traffic. So, the search engine company has no obligation to provide the link. Relying too much from the SEO may result a great loss if the search engine doesn’t send any visitors anymore.