Search Engine Optimization or "SEO"
SEO is a very important factor when building websites and is a rather extensible area of knowledge. Everything from the uniqueness and relevance of your content, to the number of people that refer to it, to how your content is displayed will affect your efforts and should be considered, observed and implemented throughout your website building process.
It doesn't stop there however, you also have to keep up with it becasue as far as search engines are concerned, its a game of cat and mouse and there tend to be more cats than mice.
Many people and organizations offer Search Engine Optimization services and while some provide quality service, you must be weary of promisses and practices. There are no secrets to this game, all of the rules are available for anyone to find so just as with the snake oil salesman of the past, be weary of "secret formulas".
To begin with, there are two categories of SEO; White Hat and Black Hat. Black Hat being the "evil" Google often tells us not to be and its good advice considering it's no secret that if you want to succeed, it's best to have them in your corner.
White Hat Search Engine Optimization consist of proper tecniques of optimization that include things like:
- Proper HTML coding & delivery
- Creating quality, focused content
- Playing by the rules
Black Hat Search Engine Optimization consist of improper or "evil" practices such as:
- Link exchange schemes
- Linkback schemes of "Link Farming"
- Use of automated link submission tools.
- Content or Keyword Stuffing
- Search Engine Spamming
- Misleading redirects or Malicious Scripting
The best advice anyone can give regarding SEO is to understand what is going on. Read about it, implement best practices, and if you plan to hire out an SEO company, understand their services and be sure your not paying for Black Hat, or even "Grey Hat" services. Some "evil" things may work in the short term but don't mess with Google, you know how big they are, you know their capabilities - your not going to pull anything over on them for long.
Case in point - Google recently updated their Logarhythms to detect unusual spikes in the amount of linkbacks to a website. Since this is indicative of someone using link farms or automated, Google has decided readjust how their system ranks the quality of websites. In the past the more linkbacks you had the better but now you have to be very careful about how you get them.