"Build for users, not search engines." This popular maxim has been a guiding SEO principle for many years--and for good reason. After all, the goal of algorithm design is to improve the specificity of search results. The goal of a good SEO firm is to deliver an optimized website with content tailored to a specific audience. When the two disciplines come together, all stakeholders benefit: the search engine, the website, and the user.
So the maxim is true: Good SEOs build for users. This truth, in theory, should inspire more people to use SEO, especially any online business focused on customer service. Unfortunately, SEO is often viewed as counter to the user experience.
Many view SEO as a manipulation of algorithm design, a way to trick the system. Those outside the SEO community often dismiss SEO talk--algorithms, alt text, anchor text, and we're still at "A"--as so much technobabble. For many people, SEO is sheer manipulation of code; the guiding principle is flipped on its head: "SEO builds for search engines, not users."
In the experience of our sponsor, Stepmans PC, this misconception is the primary reason so many websites do not take advantage of SEO. As Alex Stepman says, "You would be surprised: many website owners dismiss SEO as a manipulative practice. It is 2015! Still, so many people view SEO as counter to the goals of the search engines."
The problem, Stepman notes, is that too many people associate modern SEO with the Black Hat practices of the past: unethical coding, spammy link-building schemes, and domain jacking, to name a few.
In fact, when asked, "What is black hat SEO?" Google offers a definition from webopedia:
"In search engine optimization (SEO) terminology, black hat SEO refers to the use of aggressive SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focus only on search engines and not a human audience."
So Black Hat SEO "builds for search engines, not users." This distinction is important--there is a difference between good and bad SEO. Elsewhere, in its own page on SEO, Google discusses the difference between a good and bad SEO:
"Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation. Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site."
Many website owners collapse the implicit idea of this quote, viewing SEO as an either/or proposition: Improve your site and save time vs. risk damage to your site and reputation. When practiced ethically, however, good SEO is not an either or proposition. From Google's (and other search engine's) perspective, algorithms reward organic SEO efforts. At the same time, algorithms dissuade Black Hat SEO practices.
What Google is advising here is to perform your own research to find a good SEO company that understands the value of users--read: customers. Ask any potential SEO: What can you do for my customers? How can you attract my unique customers? What do you know about my customers? If an SEO cannot speak to the human side of online marketing and SEO, look elsewhere.
Is SEO Worth Your Money?
To navigate the complicated challenge of SEO, you might need to hire an SEO specialist like Stepman's PC. Do not let the changing algorithms compromise your sales. You need the astute wisdom of a search engine optimization professional who can help you answer the question honestly: Is SEO worth your money? Contact Stepman's PC today to learn how you can improve your website's performance: 215-900-9398.
Stepmans PC has a handy checklist to help you discover a good SEO company.
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