Recently we had a potential client email us some questions about the inner workings of Search Engine Optimization and some of the things search engines are looking for. As I was responding, the thought came to mind that more of you out there may have some of the same questions and concerns about how Search Engine Optimization works and what we as SEO Specialists do to make your site more visible to search engines.
Does your cost include having the site checked and approved by the major search engines?
We use Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools to verify that every site we work on is being crawled and that there are no errors. The search engines will neither check (in a way that you will see) nor approve a site. But if you use black hat techniques, there is a strong possibility that they will black list your site.
As a follow-up, please explain the SEO process a bit.
First we will research keywords that we feel reflect the subject matter of your site. These keywords are checked for search volume and competition. We will select the best ones and submit them to you for approval.
Once we receive approval on those keywords, one of our Search Engine Optimization specialists will begin the on page SEO. This usually consists of making adjustments to the title tags and description and keywords metas, checking the page content for duplicated content on the web, looking for internal linking opportunities and making sure that the images all have alt tags and dimensions. In some cases it may be necessary to add to existing content or completely rewrite it for the best possible results.
What are they (Bing, Google, Yahoo) looking for?
Bing and Yahoo are both using Bing’s search index. That being said, at its most basic, these search engines, including Google, are interested in providing the end user with the best experience possible. They are looking for relevant content that is coded for usability. Usability refers to the ease of use for the end user. Also, and just as important, they are looking at how many sites are linked to yours. The algorithms use inbound links as a reference for how pertinent and respected the information on your site is.
Do all sites need to be vetted by these [search engines] to achieve maximal optimization?
The algorithm determines whether your site will rank on the first page or not at all. Google and Bing/Yahoo are the search engines whose attention you want to attract. They account for 95% of the search engine market and will garner the most traffic. As I said earlier, they don’t necessarily vet your site, but they will blacklist you if you are using black hat techniques or if your site is distributing malware.
What are the kinds of things that annoy the [search engines] and what are the ramifications for us?
Keyword stuffing is a big one. This is where your title tags and description tags are just packed out with keywords and no useful information. This can result in search engines ignoring your site and in some cases removing your site from their index.
Title and description tags that are too many characters can also lead to problems. A key thing to remember is that your title tag is only supposed to refer to the content on the page and that it is only a title tag, not a novel. The same applies for the description tag. The description tag is only supposed to be a very brief summary of what is on the page. It is acceptable to have keywords in these tags, but they should be inserted in text that describes what is on the page and is useful to the end user.
Are there ways around it without annoying the [search engines]?
In my honest opinion, while you may get lucky for a while using “spammy” or black hat techniques, eventually the algorithm always catches on. Not only will you lose your rankings but, you could also get deindexed and/or blacklisted.
The sites that enjoy longevity at the top, take their time getting there. They usually end up there because there on-page optimization is impeccable and their information is useful so it is linked to regularly, either naturally or through an aggressive link building campaign.
Do you have other questions?
These are just some of the questions that have been asked by clients and prospects alike. Maybe you have questions that I did not touch on in this post. Feel free to add them to the comments section below and we will be happy to answer them for you!