Understanding what an SEO is:
SEO stands for 'Search Engine optimization'. Search engine optimization is what individuals/companies/anyone with a website do to make their site show up in search engine results and preferably show up at a higher search engine ranking.
Search engine ranking decides whether your website is going to show up on the first 10 pages of the search engine results or pop up way back somewhere. This means that when people type in a certain term or keyword in a search engine, as they usually do when looking for something, the sites with the highest ranking show up in the first 5 to 10 pages. Considering how many millions of sites there are and what a vast and expanding place the Internet is, it is important that your website have a high search engine ranking and thereby a high visibility. Most net surfers usually don't have the patience or the time to search beyond page 10, so the sites that show up in the first 10 are likely to get the most traffic and the most business.
Your website is usually ranked by search engines according to the keywords or content you use. If you use keywords that are searched most often, it is likely your site will stand a chance of being found more often. It also helps if your site has a user-friendly design, has coding that is compatible with current programming standards, and contains high-quality, relevant content matter.
If you are not very web or computer-savvy, you can hire an SEO company to do the necessary search engine optimization for your site. There are plenty of companies that offer excellent professional SEO services, but, unfortunately, there are also many that skirt established search engine rules and use unfair and often illegal methods to stand out in the crowd. These illegal methods are known by the term 'Black Hat SEO'. The ethical way is known as 'White Hat SEO'.
White Hat SEO:
We've already seen the ethical SEO methods like correct coding, good website design, useful content and relevant keywords. You should keep adding fresh content and keep updating your site.
Black Hat SEO:
Now for the Black Hat SEO methods, some of which include:
- Sprinkling keywords repeatedly and without any logic or meaning throughout the web content.
- Adding invisible - font in the same colour as the background - lines of keywords in the web page to fool search engines into thinking it's a content rich website.
- Cloaking or creating doorway pages.
- Creating shadow domains which have more or less exactly the same content.
- Creating a domain name that is a close variation on the name of a successful competitor.
There are probably scores of new tricks coming up daily, but search engines are getting smarter as well and you are quite likely to get caught and penalised. You can get black-listed from search engine indexes for using unethical methods, which effectively means you're not going to appear on them at all and unless someone types your exact URL in the address bar you are not going to be found.
Finding and Hiring a Professional and Ethical SEO Company:
If you require professional assistance with search engine optimization, it is important to hire a company that offers ethical SEO services. Before you hire anyone, it's a smart idea to conduct some research on them. You can search for the company on a search engine for starters and see how it shows up and what people are saying about it. Stay away, of course, from a company that will spam you with SEO service offers; if it's a decent professional outfit, they don't need to do that.
Don't fall for any promises to 'get you No. 1 ranking on all the top search engines'. Nobody can do that but the top search engines and usually they don't do you any favours you don't deserve.
Ask the company to explain exactly what they intend to do. Their SEO methods should be transparent and clear. If they have a problem with explaining all the details, you may end up with a problem at some later date. If the explanations include creating shadow domains, doorway pages and irrelevant content, well, that's transparent enough and you're definitely going to wind up with a problem.
Be sure to find out if they intend to get you a permanent inclusion in search engine results or are merely offering temporary advertising.
Get a written and signed contract at the start, that details all the work to be done and contains an assurance by the company to stick strictly to ethical standards.
Keep in mind that, whoever you hire for the search engine optimization, it is your website in the end and it is you that will be responsible for the tactics they use.