The new buzzword flying around marketing circles is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), with everyone singing the praises of intelligent SEO. Many companies are now claiming they can deliver incredible SEO results to their clients, and tend to charge handsomely for their services. With more and more companies claiming to be SEO “experts”, it’s important you know what they can and cannot do, and why it is best to be a little skeptical of anyone or any company that promises spectacular results.
SEO in Simple Language
Search engines, like Google, Yahoo, and now Cuil (pronounced “cool”) search the Web when you enter a word or words into them, trying to find the best match for your search. If you enter something simple, like “What is SEO”, you’ll notice that these three search engines provide very different lists to that search query. Each one uses their own algorithm to figure out what website might have the most relevant data for your search. The result is that different search engines give different results, even if there is some overlap in their top 10.
Why Google Matters
Google dominates the search engine market, accounting for 61% of the search market (versus the #2 player, Yahoo, who comes in around 20%). It is because of Google’s dominance that most SEO tactics involve decrypting their algorithm to maximize the chances of getting good hits. Most good SEO tactics work on other search engines as well, but the focus is almost always on making sure that Google gets the most desired results. But figuring out how to manipulate the Google engine is not easy, and anyone who says they have Google figured out is probably kidding themselves, trying to kid you, or both.
The reason is that Google frequently changes how their engine searches, to keep clever companies from being able to manipulate ratings. In the past, the search “miserable failure” would bring up George W. Bush’s biography on the White House website, a trick accomplished by clever hackers manipulating the Google engine. But Google, who never stays still for long, soon changed how their searches were conducted, and most of these “Google Bombs”, as they came to be known, have vanished.
So What Does Google Actually Check?
As I said, Google uses a complicated algorithm that is difficult to decode, but we do know a few things. Google uses third party links (how many other websites link to, say, a Wikipedia article or an Amazon book) as one criteria. That is, obviously, very hard to control. They also look at what’s called MetaTags and MetaKeywords — descriptions embedded in the coding of the website itself. These are not as prominent as they used to be, for they became too easy for companies to manipulate. Google also looks at the actual content on the site itself, looking for matches within written words themselves. This is very important, because sites done entirely in Flash, as but one example, will not have any of their text registered by Google or any other search engine. MediaMark Spotlight uses a combination of technology and content to increase our clients’ visibility, and to improve their chances of getting great SEO results.
The Bottom Line on SEO
The bottom line is that you should be wary of anyone or any company that promises guaranteed results. The truth is that good SEO is as much of an art as a science, and that part of what allows a company to create the best SEO is to simply monitor how they are ranking in searches, and make corrections in the “real world” to track how well they translate into Google hits.
Staying on top of Google is a non-stop process, and we here at MediaMark Spotlight are always refining how we conduct our SEO for our clients, based on the latest data coming in to us.