A Beginner’s Guide To SEO


Depending on the specific search engine you’re using, a search for “American Civil War” results in anywhere from 135 million to 250 million hits.  Even with a much more specific query, like “vegan quinoa recipes”, your search will yield several million hits.  If you’re the user who has initiated the search, this wealth of results is great; you have more sources than you possibly need to find exactly what it is that you want to find.  If you’re the owner of a website, though, it’s an entirely different story.  A brick-and-mortar business may have a few dozen competitors; an online business has millions.  Your business is unique, but in a Web search your site could end up lost among thousands or millions of other results.

If you want your website to be noticed, it needs a noticeable online presence.  The amount of time, energy, money, and talent you put into developing a great website is wasted if there is no traffic getting to it.  Web searches are the key to increasing your online presence and getting users to visit your site.  The vast majority of Web searching is started in some sort of search engine, and most users don’t stray much past the first 10-20 displayed search results to find what they’re looking for.  It’s really important to make sure that these search engines know your site is out there, recognize that it offers valuable content, and thus assign it a high ranking in search results so users can quickly and easily access your site.  There are many methods you can use to strengthen your website’s search engine visibility, all of which are known as search engine optimization, or SEO.  Search engine optimization methods are generally divided into two broad categories:  white hat SEO, and black hat SEO.  These terms, which are borrowed from classic American cowboy lore, refer to the quality and reliability of SEO strategies.

White hat SEO strategies (the “good” guys):

These techniques are honest, trustworthy, and user-centered.  In these cases, the technique works within the confines and rules of the search engine’s algorithm to increase a website’s ranking.

They focus on developing sound and valuable content, and using careful techniques to make that content visible and easily accessible to users.  Some common white hat SEO strategies include:

  • link building
  • cross linking
  • updating with high quality content.

Black hat SEO strategies (the “bad” guys):

These techniques tend to avoid or outright break the search engine’s rules in order to force increased traffic.  While these methods temporarily drive up website traffic, they usually lead to punishments from the search engine.  They often lead to irrelevant results and frustrated users, and include:

  • keyword stuffing
  • doorway pages
  • hidden text

If you submitted a search engine query on your business, products or services, where would you rank in the results?  Would you like to rank higher?

Contact SEO Minneapolis, a trusted provider of white hat SEO services, for higher search rankings and increased traffic.

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