The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Truth About SEO, and How to Navigate It

January 27, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

Ah, Search Engine Optimization. That golden ticket we all want to magically appear at the top of search results online. We do everything from write more blog posts to leave sacrifices for the Google Gods, but sometimes it feels in vain.

These days, everything from your website to your blog and social media channels are being scrutinized by search engines like Google and ranked based on how important said search engine thinks they are.

What’s a company to do? Are we merely at the whims of Google, the biggest bully on the SEO block?

Yes and no, it turns out. Yes, we need to pay attention to what our businesses are putting out into the webosphere, but no, Google doesn’t simply shoot down a website in rankings for no reason.

First: What the Heck IS SEO?
I tend to forget my readers aren’t all knee-deep in the mire that is Internet marketing like I am. What you need to know about SEO is:

It’s how relevant you are to what your audience is searching for on search engines. You want to be “optimized” to appear in the best results. So if you run a taco shop in Encinitas, whenever someone searches for “Encinitas taco shop,” ideally, your website would appear in the top results.

A Little Thing Called Algorithm
You may have heard buzzing last year about the changes Google made to its algorithms. Essentially, the company took large steps to eliminating much of the spam and black hat techniques (think scuzzy, evil strategies to get to the top of search engines) that were pervading the Internet.

In case you weren’t paying attention, here are the highlights of the algorithm changes Google made last year (or lowlights, depending on your point of view):

● Panda: focused on penalizing sites with duplicate content, as well as keyword stuffing practices.
● Penguin: scrutinized the sites that link to yours. All should relate to what you do.
● Secure Searches: marketers can no longer view which keywords visitors typed to arrive on a site.

Marketers started biting their fingernails when all these changes came about, but my thought is: if you’re producing useful and relevant content on your site or blog, Google will treat you just fine.

That’s the “good” news about SEO. If you’ve got the time and energy to produce your own web copy and blog content and spend some time understanding the right way to use copy and keywords, you’ll be fine.

When You Need an SEO Expert
But what if you don’t have time to grow your own marketing efforts? So many business owners are simply too busy to update their own copy and blogs, or their social media profiles. So is trying to aim for higher search ranking a futile attempt?

Not so. You can hardly turn around without running into an SEO expert these days. And while I certainly advocate working with one, please be cautious before signing on to pay anyone to help with your SEO. There are a lot of bad apples out there.

Examples of Ugly SEO Practices
When you’re hunting for an SEO expert, here’s what you don’t want him to do for you:

● Keyword stuffing: he fills your web page with keywords that sound unnatural. Google will penalize you and push you down in the search rankings.
● Spammy links: he promises you hundreds of sites will link to yours, but doesn’t mention they’re all sites no one visits.
● Hidden links: you can’t see these links, but they’re embedded in the code on your site.

Back in the Wild West days, disreputable SEO “experts” could get away with these practices, and less than savvy business owners wouldn’t be the wiser. But now with Google cracking down, you risk being essentially blacklisted if you work with someone who uses these tactics on your site. It can cost you thousands of dollars — not to mention months or years of your time — to undo that damage.

Finding the Right SEO Help for Your Company
The type of SEO expert you want doesn’t need to resort to questionable tactics like the ones above. She knows the latest Google updates, and knows effective strategies to improve your search rankings without being underhanded.

She uses content marketing and highly targeted web copy to attract your audience, which, in turn, impresses Google.

And while you certainly do want to put your SEO efforts in the hand of a skilled professional, don’t be afraid to get involved to help ensure your success:

● Give her an understanding of your company culture. What’s important to you? What’s your style: informal or formal? Fun or serious?
● Provide topic ideas for your blog. You’ll have better in-depth knowledge of your industry.
● Pay attention to her efforts so you’re always on top of what’s happening with your online branding.

Ranking higher on Google and other search engines isn’t rocket science, and with the right partner, you can effectively reach a wider audience online.

What obstacles have you come across in your efforts to improve your Search Engine Optimization?

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Category: Business

Susan Payton

Susan Payton()

Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as CorpNet, Small Business Trends, Chamber of Commerce, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing . Website:

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