SEO: the difference between the basics, the detailed and spam

There’s no shortage of conversation about the end of search engine optimization. As search gets more personalized — cache and cookies and the rest — ensuring that your business, organization or another site ranks highly when people use web search tools becomes less straightforward.

Still, it’s naturally something that I get asked about a lot — how do I get more people to find my website online?

I am not an SEO analyst. When people ask in great detail, I often point them in the direction of other respected SEO shops, like SEER Interactive in Northern Liberties. Still, when you talk about content online, its impact on search is inherent.

In truth, there are two steps in SEO.

  1. The basics — Consistently create interesting content that is shared widely and includes a network of inbound and outbound links all structured with a sensible taxonomy that grows in traffic and attention. This is something I’ve been involved in — having overseen the turnover of the new CampusPhilly.org, these changes will amount to greater presence in search over time. Regardless of your goals, this is your first step.
  2. The premium — When your industry is competitive in search — malpractice law or other competitive search terms — often the above first step will help but not let you dominate, particularly if you’re late in starting. There is a world of processes, site optimizations, gimmicks, tricks and more that traditional SEO firms do better than others. This is step two and why you should work with an SEP firm.
  3. The spam — There is a third category that goes beyond what many reputable SEO firms, including link-baiting, strange games with meta tags and keywords, embedding phrases and such. In the ugly, competitive world of a search, partnering with giant link farms happens. I’m just not sure if I’d want my brand associated with it.
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