What is search engine optimization?

 SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a marketing strategy aimed at increasing the visibility of a website and improving its rankings in organic (i.e. nonpaid) search results on a search engine.

But how do search engines work? Search engines are essentially “answer machines,” which deliver results based on the search queries typed in by web users. In order to deliver the results needed by the users, search engines send bots called “spiders” or “crawlers” to scour billions of web pages being added every day. The codes from each website are collected and indexed in databases, which will be recalled later to answer search queries. When a user searches for something online, the search engines go through billions of documents and returns only the websites that are relevant or related to the search term used and ranks those websites according to their popularity.

The more popular a website is, the more valuable the information it might contain. These rankings on the results page depend on the algorithms used by the search engine. Popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing each have their own unique algorithms for ranking search results. This is what Search Engine Optimization seeks to influence: popularity and relevance.

Optimizing a website includes adding content, editing the content, using keywords that generate traffic to a website, coding using HTML and other forms, in order to match them to specific keywords, to increase links with other websites, and to make it easier for the search engines' indexing activities.

On-page VS Off-page Optimization

Websites may be optimized in two main ways: on-page and off-page SEO. In on-page SEO, the contents within the web pages themselves (title, Meta tags, keywords, etc.) as well as their HTML source code may be modified to optimize them for search engines. As for off-page SEO, the aspects outside of the actual website may be modified in order to improve its position in search rankings. These include marketing on social media, guest blogging, brand mentions, and content sharing, which help build backlinks to the website.

Using both types for one website is usually recommended, since if done properly on-page optimization can increase the usefulness and readability of websites (relevance) and off-page optimization can increase the backlinks to the website, which will help it rank better on search results (popularity).

White-hat VS Black-hat SEO

White-hat SEO uses techniques and strategies focusing on benefiting a human audience through adequate content, as opposed to just ranking on search engines, and abiding by the rules and policies of search engines. Some examples of these techniques include the use of keywords, backlinks, and writing adequate content for human users.

On the other hand, black-hat SEO uses aggressive SEO strategies and techniques that focus only on ranking high on search engines rather than satisfying a human audience, and usually these don’t obey the guidelines of search engines. Some of their techniques include overloading keywords in a website, so that it will rank high in a web search, using invisible text in a website and using "doorway pages." Black-hat SEO is considered unethical, and websites that practice it get banned from search engines. Practitioners do this to get quick returns for their website, despite the high risks.

Do it yourself SEO VS Hiring an SEO agency/company

Many large businesses usually hire employees who serve as the company’s search engine marketing specialist while others take on SEO by themselves. Do it yourself SEO can help save time and money, and ensure information security, since hiring an SEO consultant can be expensive and risky. However, learning SEO can be hard for most beginners. SEO techniques keep evolving through time and beginners might unknowingly use outdated or even black-hat techniques.

On the other hand, hiring a professional might be helpful as a long-term solution so that website owners can focus on other more important tasks. These companies also have expertise and the resources to help website owners achieve better results for their sites. However, others might find them expensive for what they do. Others are not trustworthy, and clients might get stuck in a bad contract.

How to select a good SEO Company

Choosing a good SEO company doesn’t have to be hard or risky. One thing you can do is to get in touch with your personal and professional networks and get their advice. Besides that, you can search for reviews online about some SEO companies you might be interested in.

Before finally hiring, remember to do adequate research about what you want them to do for you. Figure out what you want to improve among aspects of your online presence.  Never fall for those claiming instant amazing results for very low prices. Ask for tangible evidence of their achievements every time.

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SEO Company Profile

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Search Engine Optimization for Local Businesses

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