By Christian Goetzman
Search for SEO on Google and you will have your choice of 848,000,000 results. There are few things that are more nebulous and misunderstood than the three letters SEO. Searching for an answer to "What is SEO?" is like looking for a grain of sand in the Sahara, so I apologize for the extremity of my example. Now back to the 848 million results of our search. I’ll break them down for you into two categories. First are the ones that are overcomplicating what Search Engine Optimization means in order to make their service offering or product seem like it is worth whatever amount they charge. The second group is industry insiders offering similar information but are more granular.
For the first group, I am sure there are a few legitimate SEO consultants out there. But for every one quality firm, there are nine others that are using outdated techniques or are charging exorbitant amounts of money for very little results. In the second group there is truly gold in the nuggets of advice and information. However, with the sheer amount of articles out there, one could read for the rest of their lives and never truly learn what SEO means for their specific company. So I’ll tell you: SEO is your reputation with Google.
Think of it like a group of friends. Each individual has their own families and unique professions. Next, imagine you needed to ask one of your friends a question about a mechanical problem with your car. Who would you ask? Do you go to Bob, your friend who happened to tell you about his new tool box he received a couple months ago as a Christmas gift? Or to Fred, the friend who has been fixing up cars in his garage for years? You know this because you have seen the pictures, heard Fred boast about 11 second miles down at the strip on Friday nights and don't forget the disgusting amounts of grease and grime constantly under his fingernails.
Both of these two friends are qualified enough for you to ask your question, but why do you choose your gearhead friend Fred? Because of his reputation. I admit that in this scenario there are any number of things we could nitpick at, but would you trust Fred with your car without any of the previously mentioned details? What if Bob had an annoying little kid standing next to him telling you about all his cars, work and grease laden hands? Would you consider him your personal auto advisor?
Google’s search algorithm works much the same. If you want to advertise and spend money then go to a local trade show or post an add on AdWords. But if you want to improve your reputation, you have to publish your knowledge yourself. If you are an expert, blog about your work, post images and videos, and participate in the community that is out there asking questions. After you understand this, the granular information I mentioned earlier will be much more valuable because you will be improving your reputation rather than being paralyzed by doing something wrong.
Up next time... The real process of SEO.