It's no wonder that businesses have learned to be wary of search engine optimization services. For years, SEO was all about keywords, directories, and links - a very technical and tedious enterprise, very open to being gamed and cheated. But many businesses didn't mind if what their SEO person did was technically against the search engine's "rules", so long as they got onto the first page of search results. As a result, the SEO field included a lot of spammers, keyword stuffers, link farmers, and cheap tricksters.
Then the search engine smackdown began.
See, search engines want their users to get the most relevant search results. But these sneaky SEO techniques meant that too many irrelevant and spammy sites ended up in the search results, which frustrated searchers (and by extension, the search engines).
So they punished the spammers and cheaters. All the quick and easy tricks that so many iffy SEOs had used to artificially boost search engine rankings were targeted and penalized. With algorithm updates like Google's Penguin and Panda, more sites were identified and knocked unceremoniously down the search results. Some were removed from a search engine's index altogether for their bad practices.
But it wasn't enough to target the spammers and cheaters; search engines wanted to make sure they were giving their users the best results possible. They wanted to find ways to improve their algorithms. So they expanded the ways they look at websites to better understand what they're about.
Instead of relying on the keywords and descriptions that website owners provided, search engines began analyzing the entire website, looking for a more realistic use of keywords and phrases, how long visitors spend on the site, and even how fresh the content is. While links to the website were still important, they decided, it would be all about the value of links: is this a link that someone is sharing naturally with others, and that others would trust?
The result is that SEO nowadays includes: the structure and design of your website; creating quality content that targets keywords organically; using social media marketing to organically gain social signals; and using pay per click (PPC) and display advertising to drive well-targeted traffic.
That means that today's SEO services should be a crucial part of website design and building, content creation, social media marketing, and search engine marketing (SEM). Keywords alone aren't good enough anymore.
Though this complexity can sound bad, it's actually a great step forward, for both searchers and businesses. Look at it this way: SEO today is about organically connecting you with people who are searching for you (and maybe just don't know it yet). While this new, search engine-friendly SEO means it might take longer to see some results from your SEO efforts, it also means that you'll get better, more consistent traffic in the long term.
It also means you can be more assured that you won't be hurt in the next round of algorithm updates. Because you're trying to reach others organically instead of trying to trick and game the system, you don't have to worry about being caught.
If you'd like to get SEO that's comprehensive, up-to-date with the latest search engine updates, and measurable, look no further than Splash Omnimedia. Find out what we can do for your business.