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We have all heard it, read it or saw it on the news before as it relates to search engine optimization, “you should not practice ‘Black Hat’ SEO”.  But what exactly is Black hat SEO and how can I make sure I avoid those tactics in my SEO program? 

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What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
The Basics of SEO

So…you have a Brand New Website, it looks good, scratch that…it looks GREAT!  You have worked hard on it and poured your heart and soul into this new and exciting business idea.  Or, maybe you have had a web site for a while and just can’t figure out how to get more people to notice you and visit your site.  Don’t panic, you’re not alone.  In fact, you are in the 75-80% range of what most people do with a new web site.  They spend a lot of time and money building this awesome web site and then sit back and scratch their heads when the visitors and purchases don’t start rolling in the day after they launch it.  The truth is that they just don’t know that they need to market and promote this new site if they have any hope at all of ever being found on the internet.

“Having a good idea and a good web site is not enough anymore.  You absolutely HAVE to market your web site and earn those coveted clicks.”

So what happened?  Where are all those visitors and clicks the internet promises?  Back in the day, if you owned a dynamic, cutting edge web site with quality content or a product/service that people needed, you automatically went to the top and stayed there.  So what do you do now when you build that GREAT web site and have a GREAT product/service and still can’t seem to get noticed?  You might have even searched Google and found your web site on page 12 (YIKES!).

“Getting found in today’s internet is tougher than ever.  Google really is doing a good job of cutting down on the SPAMMERS and fly-by-night marketers but believe it or not, that just makes it that harder to try and position a legitimate web site at the top of the search rankings.”

Here is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes into play.  Search Engine Optimization is the “art” of crafting and marketing a web site so that it appears high in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) for the major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo) for a specific keyword or phrase that is related to the site.  Ok, so know what?  Maybe you have done your research and found out what the basics of SEO are.  That’s very good, because you will need to know that.  For those of you who are not quite sure what the basics are, here is a quick rundown of some key functions that make up a good SEO program:

  • SEO Optimized Content Creation – Content is the “what” that is on your site.  The words, pictures and videos that make up your story or product offerings.  Making sure that your content is SEO friendly and keyword rich is essential.
  • Keyword Research – Selecting the right keywords that drive traffic to your site.  Let’s be honest, any Joe Schmoe can get a site to rank for a Long Tail Keyword like “Hot Pink Volks Wagon Beetles for sale in Norfolk Virginia”.  The problem is, how many people are actually searching for that and how much traffic will that phrase generate to your site? 
  • HTML Coding – Making sure your meta-tags are SEO friendly and optimized for maximum search engine visibility. 
  • Search Engine Access to your site – Making sure the search engines can crawl your site and once they get there what to crawl and what to index.
  • Fresh Content Generation Method Generating fresh and unique content is paramount if you want your site to be crawled often.  Blogs are a great way to build unique and consistent content.
  • Building Credibility with the Search Engines – Linkbuilding is the best way to grow your credibility with the search engines.  They use each link back to your site from another site as a “vote”.  The more votes you have from other sites, the better the chance that the search engines see your site as authoritative for your chosen topic and therefore place you higher in the rankings.

“Remember this, if nothing else;  SEO is hard and sometimes monotonous work.  It is however, essential if you want to get to the top of the SERP’s and therefore reap the benefits of being #1 on Google, Yahoo and Bing.  There is no magic formula, there is no secret sauce, just good old technical know how and a little elbow grease.”

 One word of caution!  Beware of the “Black Hat” SEO practices.  These include things like; hidden text, door way pages, buying links, keyword stuffing and more.  These are practices that sometimes yield good results in the very short term but can be devastating if you get a penalty award from Google or worse…a total banishment!  Yes it may seem unfair, but it Google’s eyes they are very clear that you are to follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines if you wish to rank well on their search engine.  So you better play by their rules or suffer their penalties.

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