If you often hear the term organic SEO (search engine optimization) but haven’t a clue what it is or where to go to find out, this article offers a primer. In a nutshell, organic SEO is Web content marketing to help companies get found in the unpaid sections—as opposed to the advertised space or business listings—of search engines when users type in relevant key words.
Within the world of SEO, there’s a “good guy” and a “bad guy.” The good guy is known as the “white hat” optimizer, the above-board content marketer who avoids dirty tricks such as link farming—links within articles that appear authentically informative but merely serve as a tool to promote the websites to which these articles link. These links are generally paid for by the client and the articles deceive the readers by appearing to be an objective news source.
The “bad guys” are known as “black hat” optimizers. These are the SEOers who believe in link farming and writing content that is shallow in nature, bloated with key words. The black hatters may resort to other tricks such as website cloaking.
According to Google, many of the black hat tactics lead to penalties of the offending websites. These sites may get banned from the search engines or drop in ranking when there’s an algorithm update. While there are many questions as to whether these penalties are effective in targeting the offenders, the general sentiment among white hatters is to avoid the black hat tactics altogether to avoid penalties in the future.
What makes great organic SEO?
This is a question I hear all the time—as do many of my colleagues who offer similar services as Judy Asman Communication; my answer promotes a multi-pronged approach in marketing and PR. At the base of my philosophies is strengthening your business practices first then using your marketing efforts to showcase your brand. In all cases, the right formula depends on knowing how strict your competition is and a combination of these factors:
- Consistency. Once your optimized website is launched, it’s important to keep adding relevant, credible and fresh content and to share that content in as many outlets possible. Business owners or marketers who don’t understand this not only eventually see drops in their top positions but they also seem to be the ones who don’t understand that good SEO is only the first step to business success (more on this in last bullet).
- Omni-presence. In the December 2013 Website Magazine article, “SEO Myths Debunked,” editor Pete Prestipino says, “Social is not the new SEO,” adding that “the only surefire way to leverage the new social-SEO is to create relevant, rich content that consumers want to consume and, of course, share, like retweet, +1, etc.” One of the reasons it’s so important to make sure your content and URL appear on other sites throughout the Internet is so that the search engines acknowledge it as a legitimate site. Your site’s credibility grows when links to it appear in other online sources. This is why I always encourage my clients to get a social media presence and send out news releases. These clients also consistently tweet, share links on Facebook and get quoted by other websites who respect them.
- Quality content. Really strong emphasis on the word “quality” here. Now with fresher algorithms, the days of gaming the key word system are over. The days of page one articles that leave readers confused are gone too. As a search engine user and a search engine optimizer, I for one think that’s good news. Check out this article from Yahoo! News South Africa, which talks about the latest Google Hummingbird update and why it’s good for premium writers.
- Easy-to-navigate user experience. Remember that SEO is all about getting found on the Web. But what happens after that? Search engines also look for engagement. So keep these three things in mind: 1) Getting found is thanks to SEO; 2) Getting customers to act is thanks to calls to action and easy-to-read text; and 3) Closing the sale is thanks to the systems and processes your company already has in place.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions about the above, I invite you to leave a comment below.