Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the practice of crafting a web site’s content in order to get a higher page rank on search engines, was initially a very straightforward practice: The man who sold oranges put the word “orange” on his page, and included the word “oranges” in the site’s invisible elements, with perhaps some very good links to orange-related sites as an afterthought. And then when people searched for “oranges,” that farmer’s web page would come up, sooner or later. He clearly had oranges, he clearly knew some other people who knew something about oranges, so his site was your best bet for finding oranges.
But it wasn’t long before someone figured out a way to fool those search engines and get a higher page rank, typically by adding a lot of “invisible” keywords on every page, repeating those keywords unnecessarily on the page, and adding a lot of bogus links.
And it didn’t take search engines long to figure out that SEO abuse was skewing their search results, and just generally wasting everyone’s time and bandwidth. And so in recent years, Google in particular has done much to enhance their ability to detect SEO abusers, and is now fighting back by giving offenders a lower page rank, and even banning some sites from their search results. It’s never been easier to earn Google’s ire, and as a small business owner, you want to avoid that.
SEO In 2014 and Beyond
Therefore, the smart business owner will hire a professional SEO team who is familiar with the Panda and Penguin updates, and trust them to put their business on the map. The professionals are familiar with the literature and up-to-date on what triggers a negative response from Google, and the better ones will guarantee their work.
If you get to the point where you feel that you really need to improve your online image, consider the wisdom in this Serbian proverb: “If the story is not about the listener, he will not hear it.” Your website is the story you’re telling, and that story should ultimately be about your customers. Find out what they need and do your best to give it to them.
And if you really want to connect with your customers, there’s no better way to do that than to put out quality content on your site that helps your readers, and make it accessible via social media sites like Facebook. Become a person to them, and you’ll find that they’d rather buy from someone they know.