Having provided website design services in the New Orleans area for over 13 years it’s amazing the variety of discussion topics our clients have engaged us in. Whether their interest is as vast as exploring the new social media outlets or as simple as rebranding to a new color, the conversation inevitably drifts to the topic of search engine optimization. No other toolset can be as large a part of our success and if neglected, as large a part of our failure.
The main misconception about search engine optimization is that any new techniques you learn to increase your site ranking can just be added to the techniques you used previously. There is no reverse compatibility with search engine marketing and in fact, the methods you used a year ago can hurt you today and the methods you used 3 years ago can hurt you worse.
Unlike website design or any other industry where it’s appropriate to build upon and improve existing toolsets, the main goal of a search engine is to defeat the practices people learn to gain an advantage. Remember, their job as a search engine is to bring to visitors the most relevant content and our job as webmasters is to rank higher than our competition – even if our content is a bit less relevant than theirs. This less than symbiotic relationship is like no other, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon and the search engines wield the power. If you want to play the game you have to play by their rules and more importantly the rules they like today.
The majority of search engine optimization companies (SEOs) are not web developers and have historically used third party article marketing sites, blogs and message boards to inundate the web with links to your site. For years these tactics worked and Google, among others, held the general impression that the more sites that linked to you, especially sites with similar content, the more important your website was. Consequently, this backlinking as it is called became its own industry and because there are no guarantees on search engine placement and consequently no means to measure the skill of an SEO, it became the industry of choice for a lot of unskilled and unsavory individuals looking to make a fast buck. In fact, this burgeoning industry and its ability to convolute search results is the whole reason for Google’s latest and arguably most painful restructuring of its ranking algorithms, the Panda update – and yes if you choose an SEO that still uses those methods, or is unaware of the changes that happened as recently as this year, your use of their services can not only worsen your ranking, but destroy it all together.
As much as it pains the SEO industry, and there are many that ARE knowledgeable in their practice, Google’s latest trend toward improved ranking is ... wait for it … developing a quality website. Gone are the days of spamming the internet with thousands of duplicate keyword-laden articles and in are the days of populating your site with concise industry specific content. Gone are the days of spamming message boards and blogs with links to your site and in are the days of establishing a social media presence and perhaps some applicable Youtube resources.
This movement toward utilitarian website development and away from a world of high-volume / low-quality SEO practices makes the choice of an experienced website design company that much more important. Improving your search engine presence through the proper use of website design practices can not only improve your ranking but also increase the time your visitors are willing to devote to your content.