Before going into what a Search Engine Optimization firm does, let us first define what “search engine optimization” or SEO is. In “brick-and-mortar” terms, SEO may be compared to placing an advertisement in a medium that caters largely to a particular market segment, e.g., medical journals, fashion magazines, adult cable channels, etc. so that there is a high probability that whatever products or services you offer is what that particular viewing, reading, or listening market segment needs. The “agent” for this type of advertising is the advertising or marketing firm which, when related to cyberspace is the Search Engine Optimization firm.
SEO is the set of activities and strategies implemented (either by yourself or through a Search Engine Optimization firm) that influences a search engine’s “spiderbot” to give your website a high relevance rating which translates into a high ranking in the list of keyword relevant websites. Since it is a targeted approach, the success rate of an SEO strategy (measured in terms of average business per visitor also known as conversion rate) that a Search Engine Optimization firm implements should be higher than, say, online advertising (which may attract more visitors but will include a big share of “just looking” hits, thus resulting to a lower average business per visitor). This ultimately results to lower cost per sale since the resources required to service the visits (which will go down in terms of quantity but increase in terms of quality) goes down.
What does a Search Engine Optimization firm do in order to achieve its objective of ethically optimizing your website? One Search Engine Optimization firm may apply a different set of SEO strategies versus another Search Engine Optimization firm, but they both focus on one aspect: the search engine keyword or keywords. Essentially, the keyword is the major rating criterion of a relevance rating; i.e., how often it appears in the website or content. Although more sophisticated discernment algorithms are being implemented by the search engine’s “spiderbot” to weed out unethical practices (e.g., embedding keywords in articles or content that do not have any logical connection), the keyword density still the key.
Some of the strategies that a Search Engine Optimization firm employs are as follows:
• Keyword Rich Domain Names
This is the most “no brainer” strategy that a Search Engine Optimization firm could employ, yet is one of the most difficult to implement. The proposition of this strategy is that the best way to get a high ranking for a keyword relevant site is to embed the keyword into the domain name. For example, www.recipes.com will obviously get top ranking when the keyword “recipes” is used in the search box (as a side note, if you are looking for recipes, you might even just skip the search engine altogether and instinctively enter www.recipes.com). The problem with this strategy, of course, is that these domain names are probably owned by someone else already, in which case, the Search Engine Optimization firm could embed the keyword in a longer domain name like, e.g., www.mothers-recipes.com or www.home-cooked-meal-recipes.com, which, when combined with other SEO strategies could potentially even outrank www.recipes.com.
• Content Optimization
In this strategy, the Search Engine Optimization firm ensures that the content is ethically filled with all the relevant keywords to which the website is responsive to. This is accomplished by framing the advertising copy around the keyword and making it appear as many times as relevancy allows, including the keywords in the text articles, etc. The Search Engine Optimization firm has several ways of determining the possible relevance rank of your website based on the level of content optimization.
• Meta-Tag Optimization
All websites use HTML in several parts of the website’s program. In the body of the HTML program are areas that the programmer uses, among other things, for remarks (e.g., to remind him what the code is all about). The content of these areas (called meta-tags) do not have an impact on how the website looks but is “crawled through” by the search engine’s “spiderbot” all the same. Because these meta-tags play a factor in the website’s relevance, a Search Engine Optimization firm will normally embed as many keywords as ethically allowed to into them.
In selecting the Search Engine Optimization firm that you will use to optimize your website, be sure to put a heavy premium on its experience and reputation. Also, avoid a Search Engine Optimization firm that engages in unethical (and illegal) practices just to increase the number of visitors to your sites. Avoid a Search Engine Optimization firm that is vague about how it is going to optimize your website. If it has nothing to hide, then it should be transparent as to what it is supposed to do. If you heard about a Search Engine Optimization firm through spam mail, do not even consider it. If the Search Engine Optimization firm charges you a low price without any clear specifics as to what it will do, walk away. Finally, make sure to canvass your requirements before selecting the Search Engine Optimization firm you will use.