When it comes to search engine optimization, or SEO, you may have heard the criticism that any Web site could be number one if you pick a keyword that is obscure enough. There are also a lot of criticisms that say that SEO is not effective in putting your Web site in a higher search engine ranking and in bringing in sales and customers to your site; that everything is just based on pure luck.
What adds to the confusion are companies and services that claim to be able to put your site on the first page or top spot of any search engine for any keyword you specify and then they use black hat techniques composed of deceitful and underhanded tactics to put you on top only as long as you keep paying them. Once you have stopped paying, your rankings fall, sometimes it becomes worse off than when you started. What is more, these black hat techniques can prove to be a bane to your ranking because search engines are very dynamic and are constantly updated and be able to detect these sooner or later. There is always the possibility that your site would be banned for using these techniques.
Over the years, people have come out with pronouncements that SEO is dead. They claim that you cannot influence how your sites would be ranked by search engines with its algorithms being constantly updated. Additionally, they say that SEO companies are just guessing at how search engines rank sites because these algorithms are closely guarded secrets in the first place.
The truth of the matter is that SEO works. It is not dead. It is not an art, but a science. SEO companies and experts have made educated guesses and made changes to Web sites that have seen better rankings than when left alone. The process is very much like how scientists and academics have their own theories and they do experiments to test it out. SEO experts and scientists strive to prove causality between one process and its results.
Done right, SEO can help your site get good rankings on keywords that are used by your customers and potential buyers. What this entails is that, like other marketing initiatives, you should know who your customers are in order to find the keywords that would give you the most benefits. More than this, you should also know the various techniques of SEO and how to execute them. This includes learning how to implement white hat techniques like on page optimization, off-page SEO, link building, creating better content that is both SEO-friendly and natural sounding. Over and again, companies that implement these techniques have reaped rewards after rewards.
Critics could easily dismiss it as fluff and nothing but putting in a good word for a dying man. A look at how real world companies approach their SEO, however, proves another point. In June 2009, Forbes Magazine released its study of Ad Effectiveness. The Magazine found that:
- SEO, along with e-mail and newsletter marketing remains to be the most popular form of e-marketing among senior marketing executives.
- 48% of these executives said that SEO was most effective in generating sales and conversions.
- 92% of marketing executives will keep their existing SEO budgets or increase it within the succeeding six months.
What these marketers are saying is that SEO is effecting at not only putting your site where your customers are, but it works so well that they are willing to bet their money and keep on spending for it.