Simply put, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In layman’s terms, it is a marketing technique that uses keywords to achieve high rankings on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Dogpile, etc. These search engines use what are called web crawlers (also called web spiders) to create an index of information on websites throughout the World Wide Web. There are two main types of SEO, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. There’s Organic SEO, which concentrates on web based operations, and what’s called Local SEO, which has more to do with a physical location, and there are also two subtypes of SEO – White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO.
White Hat SEO – The “Good” SEO
White hat SEO is good SEO – you are using “white hat” tactics (in case you’re not familiar with my terminology, “white hat tactics” refers to using ethical practices to market your website, keeping your website free of hidden links and spyware, etc. All of these are tactics upon which Google will look favorably.) An example of White Hat SEO would be a company using a safe and secure website to market their services.
Black Hat SEO – The “Bad” SEO
Black hat SEO is bad SEO. Black hat SEO uses very questionable marketing tactics, such as overloading websites with keywords (this is referred to as keyword stuffing), creating false backlinks, and may even involve using spyware or malware to steal the personal information of those who visit the website, usually for the purpose of sending spam Emails, or for storing personal information. Google has been cracking down hard on websites that use Black Hat SEO tactics, ranging from taking their website off their search engine to going as far as blacklisting, and even imposing strong penalties upon the website in extreme circumstances.
Organic SEO – Mostly for Websites and Web-Based Businesses
Organic SEO uses generic keywords to locate websites on the Internet, and as such, it isn’t really effective for physical businesses unless they also have a web presence. Also, organic SEO doesn’t include customer reviews or maps telling you where the business can be found.
What this means for your website is that if these web crawlers find a nice variety of keywords having to do with the type of website you own, Google will index that information, and use that information to rank your website. For example, you could use the keywords “tropical fish tank”, “tropical fish”, and “tropical fish food” to gain visibility for a tropical fish store, just to give you a few ideas. However, as I mentioned before in the Black Hat SEO section of this article, you should NEVER over stuff your website with keywords, otherwise you may be flagged by Google for spam. Just limit yourself to a few keywords in the title, and sprinkle a few keywords, spaced widely apart, throughout your content. The idea of a good Organic SEO campaign is to rank on the first page of Google’s search results when you type in your keywords on their search engine. Websites that rank on the first page on Google tend to get a great deal of traffic, and the more traffic you get, the more potential customers your business will have.
It’s also important to note that although Organic SEO does have elements that are influenced by location, the information returned will not be tied to a physical location.
Local SEO – Good for Physical Businesses
Recently, Google has introduced new algorithms that can index locale-based keywords. For example, if you were to type something like “Auto Mechanics Detroit, MI”, you might get a listing of available auto mechanics in the Detroit area, along with a list of customer reviews and even a map showing the location of the business. This is one of the primary differences between Local SEO and Organic SEO. Instead of just crawling websites, Google’s new Venice algorithm will also scan a business’s Google Plus profile, public image sharing sites, and even online forums and social media sites where your business has been mentioned on the Internet! (In the marketing field, these are called web citations.) From this data, Google compiles information on not only your website, but data on your physical location and how customers view your business as well.
SEO has come a long way since Google first became a popular search engine. Not only can an effective SEO campaign done by an amazing Baltimore SEO company, make your business explode in popularity if used correctly and ethically, it can also create some rather decent PR for your business.