SEO

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

What goes into SEO?

To understand the true meaning of SEO, let's break that definition down and look at the parts:

• Quality of traffic. You can attract all the visitors in the world, but if they're coming to your site because Google tells them you're a resource for Apple computers when really you're a farmer selling apples, that is not quality traffic. Instead you want to attract visitors who are genuinely interested in products that you offer.

• Quantity of traffic. Once you have the right people clicking through from those search engine results pages (SERPs), more traffic is better.

• Organic results. Ads make up a significant portion of many SERPs. Organic traffic is any traffic that you don't have to pay for.

What are the Different Types of SEO?

Four Main Types

There are four main types of SEO or search engine optimization, all aimed at helping you earn greater visibility in search results:

• White Hat;

• Black Hat;

• Grey Hat; and

• Negative SEO.

The main differences have to do with how closely SEO tactics align with Google guidelines and then long it takes before you begin to see results (time), how much it costs, how risky it is, and ultimately, the value the tactics deliver to the client.

Google guidelines (Google Webmaster Guidelines) spell out what Google considers good (white hat) and bad (black hat) SEO. They are meant to help you understand what can help and hurt your rankings. While they are not laws with legal consequences, they should be taken seriously and SEOs should let clients know if they plan to violate Google Guidelines.

Black hat SEO will get you where you want to go faster. It is usually less costly because you are taking shortcuts to the top by going against published Google Webmaster Guidelines. In fact, many black hat SEO tactics are specifically spelled out in the guidelines as things you should NOT do. As such, they carry the risk that your website and/or content will rank lower, be banned from search results, or demoted the next time Google updates its ranking algorithm. That is no small concern. Google updates its ranking algorithm roughly 500-600 times a year.

Black hat SEO returns value quickly, but there is a risk the value cannot and will not be sustained.

White hat SEO techniques, on the other hand, adhere to Google Webmaster Guidelines but usually take longer and cost more to carry out. White hat SEO carries far less risk and tends to deliver lasting and compounding value over time. You’ll find most of the respected SEO and content marketing companies like Moz, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable, the SEM Post, Stone Temple, GSQI, and Philadelphia-area Seer Interactive and SEMRush all use and recommend white hat SEO tools and techniques.

Grey hat SEO falls somewhere in the middle as these tactics are not specifically called out in Google’s Guidelines. You should be cautious about taking this path as it is not safe to assume that just because a specific technique isn’t labeled or mentioned as being deceptive and one that will get you into trouble, that it will not interfere negatively with your rankings.

On-Page and Off-Page SEO

You might also hear the terms “on-page SEO” and “off-page SEO” in your travels. These refer to the subject of your optimization efforts and can employ any of the above white, grey and/or black hat SEO techniques.

On-page SEO focuses on your website and content. Its aim is to ensure search engines and searchers can easily find, use, and understand your content. On-page SEO primarily helps Google and visitors decide whether your content is relevant and potentially helpful. Examples include title tags, meta tags, meta descriptions, headings, paragraphs, images, URLs, and internal as well as outgoing links.

Off-page SEO centers on external ranking signals like backlinks and online (unlinked) mentions of your business and/or website. Assuming your content is relevant to a search query, off-page SEO mostly helps Google decide where to position it in search results. Examples include an incoming hyperlink from an external website or an unlinked mention of your company or website on social media, a website forum, a question and answer site, an online directory, or any other external website,

Link Building

In the field of search engine optimization (SEO), link building describes actions aimed at increasing the number and quality of inbound links to a webpage with the goal of increasing the search engine rankings of that page or website. Briefly, link building is the process of establishing relevant hyperlinks (usually called links) to a website from external sites. Link building can increase the number of high-quality links pointing to a website, in turn increasing the likelihood of the website ranking highly in search engine results. Link building is also a proven marketing tactic for increasing brand awareness.

Link types

Editorial link

Editorial links are the links not acquired from paying money, asking, trading or exchanging. These links are attracted because of the good content and marketing strategies of a website. These are the links that the website owner does not need to ask for as they are naturally given by other website owners. 

Resource link

Resource links are a category of links, which can be either one-way or two-way, usually referenced as "Resources" or "Information" in navbars, but sometimes, especially in the early, less compartmentalized years of the Web, simply called "links". Basically, they are hyperlinks to a website or a specific webpage containing content believed to be beneficial, useful and relevant to visitors of the site establishing the link.

In recent years, resource links have grown in importance because most major search engines have made it plain that—in Google's words—"quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating".

Search engines measure a website’s value and relevance by analyzing the links to the site from other websites. The resulting “link popularity” is a measure of the number and quality of links to a website. It is an integral part of a website’s ranking in search engines. Search engines examine each of the links to a particular website to determine its value. Although every link to a website is a vote in its favor, not all votes are counted equally. A website with similar subject matter to the website receiving the inbound link carries more weight than an unrelated site, and a well-regarded site (such as a university) has higher link quality than an unknown or disreputable website. 

The text of links helps search engines categorize a website. The engines' insistence on resource links being relevant and beneficial developed because many artificial link building methods were employed solely to spam search engines, i.e. to "fool" the engines' algorithms into awarding the sites employing these unethical devices undeservedly high page ranks and/or return positions.

Despite Google cautioning site developers to avoid "'free-for-all' links, link popularity schemes, or submitting a site to thousands of search engines these are typically useless exercises that don't affect the ranking a site in the results of the major search engines", most major engines have deployed technology designed to "red flag" and potentially penalize sites employing such practices. 

Acquired link

These are the links acquired by the website owner through payment or distribution. They are also known as organically obtained links. Such links include link advertisements, paid linking, article distribution, directory links and comments on forums, blogs and other interactive forms of social media. 

Reciprocal link

A reciprocal link is a mutual link between two objects, commonly between two websites, to ensure mutual traffic. For example, Alice and Bob have websites. If Bob's website links to Alice's website and Alice's website links to Bob's website, the websites are reciprocally linked. Website owners often submit their sites to reciprocal link exchange directories in order to achieve higher rankings in the search engines. Reciprocal linking between websites is no longer an important part of the search engine optimization process. In 2005, with their Jagger 2 update, Google stopped giving credit to reciprocal links as it does not indicate genuine link popularity. 

Forum signature linking

Forum signature linking is a technique used to build backlinks to a website. This is the process of using forum communities that allow outbound hyperlinks in a member's signature. This can be a fast method to build up inbound links to a website's SEO value.

Blog comments

Leaving a comment on a blog can result in a relevant do-follow link to the individual's website. Most of the time, however, leaving a comment on a blog turns into a no-follow link, which are not counted by search engines, such as Google and Yahoo! Search. On the other hand, blog comments are clicked on by the readers of the blog if the comment is well-thought-out and pertains to the discussion of the post on the blog. 

Directory link

Website directories are lists of links to websites which are sorted into categories. Website owners can submit their site to many of these directories. Some directories accept payment for listing in their directory while others are free.