The following is a guest post by T. Cleveland from Prime Media Consulting.
Internet business models have been with us for more than fifteen years, and the marketing techniques used to sell products and generate advertising revenues have been in a constant state of flux, always searching for the magic formula for success and morphing into something entirely new when immediate returns are not realized. Search engine operators are the “agents” in this world, standing between advertisers and website owners. Their proprietary ranking algorithms can make or break your chances for survival and success.
The marketing challenge is to leverage the operating characteristics of these algorithms to your financial benefit by optimizing the format and content of your website pages, a process commonly referred to as search engine optimization or “SEO” for short. Much has been written on the topic over the years, but as most SEO experts will tell you, this process is an art form in its own right and is a constantly moving target, rarely giving up its secrets easily. The reason for this heralded secrecy is that big money is involved, and where there is money on the line, there are many among us, unfortunately, that will attempt to game the system by abusing its inherent rules.
In order to stop these “tricksters” in their tracks, the Googles and Bings of the world are continually refining their search criteria for awarding the coveted “Page 1” ranking title. Gone are the days when a merchant account and a few well-placed keywords or links will get the job done. “Spamming” and “stuffing”, the process by which a webmaster repeats a host of keywords, often hidden from the consumer’s view, but apparent when the search spider comes cruising through, are the culprits. As creative as the abusers are, the “cops” on the beat are quick to adapt to preserve the integrity of their pricing mechanisms for their advertisers.
If SEO is constantly changing, then what are the current trends? Keywords are still important, but spider “bots” now are more capable in evaluating the context in which they are used. Simply affixing a hundred words on the bottom of a page will no longer get the job done and may even penalize one in today’s scheme of things. What is important is the content, which can be written articles, blog posts, and even pictures or audio/visual modules. Comments from viewers can also raise your ratings. In other words, rating algorithms are searching for “signposts” that require more effort with original content, not duplications from other websites or repeated phrases.
Page formats also require special attention. The tendency of webmasters to display ads prominently on the top portion of the selected page is frowned upon. Spiders dislike pages where content is “below the fold”. Ads above the fold are acceptable, but not if they seriously downgrade the viewer experience.
If you are contemplating starting an online business, do get a merchant account, but also be sure to study up on SEO techniques, always adapting your marketing methods to the latest trends and innovations in the process.
My Own Advisor: I’m far from being an expert but it appears SEO can help make or break your online business.
Readers, what’s your take on these SEO techniques?