There is no doubt that the search engines are getting crowded. Everyday, thousands of new websites are created and millions of pages of content are created. And search engines have the daunting task of combing through all the riff raff and giving users what they determine to be the best results for their query. So it is no wonder that many companies are turning to SEO services companies to help them look better to search engines and come out on top of a search engine results page. And companies that can rise to the top stand to earn many times more than companies who do not appear or are buried so far down in the search engine results that no one ever sees them. Simply put, SEO firms provide valuable services to companies and individual websites that can really boost not only page rank but profits and visibility.
Search engine optimization is the art of aligning internal and external forces so that a certain website gets ranked better in search engine results. In the old days this consisted basically of stuffing your website with keywords so that search engines would think it was an authority on that topic. The basic thinking of early search engine algorithms was that if you mentioned a word many times, you must be some sort of authority on subjects relating to that word. But that turned out not to be true, and web developers started gaming the system to their own advantage. Since then, the algorithms have improved dramatically, but they are still just algorithms, which means they can still be gamed.
Today, Google, Bing, Yahoo! and others are in the business of tweaking their algorithms to give users better search results and making it harder for those who try and game the system and use black-hat SEO tactics to get sub-par content to the top of a search engine results page. But they’ve found that they can only count on site content and keywords to a certain extent.
In such a crowded internet landscape, there may be millions of websites devoted to the same subjects that make equal use of keywords within their site. This creates a problem: As an algorithm, how do you differentiate between two sites who seem to have roughly the same amount and quality of content? Who do you rank higher? The answer is authority.
When you’re looking at two sites that are pretty much the same for all intents and purposes, establishing which site is more authoritative (or popular) is the way to differentiate between the two in terms of search engine ranking. So the purpose of SEO is not just to make sure your site is optimized with the right keywords and site structure, but that it also is the most authoritative. But, although search engines have come a long way in the last 15-20 years, a search engines still cannot look at a website subjectively and determine its authority compared to other sites—it has to use more quantitative data.
As search engines move toward a more authority-based ranking system for websites, they need some way to measure authority. Since they can’t “look” at a website, they have decided to equate popularity with authority by measuring the number of incoming links a website receives and the authority of the site where the incoming link resides. In simple terms, that means that if you’re website has a lot of links pointing toward it from other websites, your site will rank higher. And the more authority a site has, the more authority they will pass along when they link to you. In a way, Google is saying that in order to come to the top of search results, you have to be popular, and you have to have popular friends too. So, today, SEO is much more than creating keyword-rich text on a site and having a clean site architecture, it’s also about boosting your SEO by getting popular people to link to you in the right ways.
In the world of search engines, when a site links to you, it is seen as an endorsement of your site. That is, search engines want to give their users the best possible content, and if they can see that someone who is already popular (i.e., authoritative) links to you, that is seen as an endorsement of your site content and will boost your SEO and page rank. So, SEO should involve more than technical aspects of site maintenance. A good SEO strategy will also include marketing and outreach efforts to other high-traffic and respected sites.
Beyond site-to-site links, cultivating good SEO is also falling more and more into the realm of social media. Both Google and Bing recently announced that they take into account information and links cultivated from Twitter and Facebook to calculate page rank and to influence users toward content they may find useful. And, again, authority plays a factor in social media as well. The more popular and authoritative a person on Twitter is, the more their sharing of your link will boost your page rank and SEO. Thus, it behooves any company to ignore social media as an avenue for marketing and increasing their page rank and visibility through SEO.
The truth of the matter is that trying to manage all these aspects of SEO on your own can be a huge challenge. Search engine optimization is a highly-skilled art that bridges web design and marketing, and it’s hard for any beginner to tackle all these complex worlds all at once. That’s why it is well worth any company’s effort and money to hire a SEO company to help guide them through this process. With an SEO expert on your side, you’ll begin to see the benefits of SEO strategies much sooner and with much less effort on your part.
Brad Anderson is the Founder and CEO of Fruition. Brad’s focus is supporting Fruition’s team to enable sustainable growth and excellent client satisfaction (EBITDA growth). With a strong statistical background, Brad built Fruition’s in-house software that is used to manage client success.
President & Founder, Tru Family Dental
Marketing, Dependable Cleaners
President & Founder, Family Travel Association