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“Back to Basics: Understanding the fundamentals of SEO”

It's not an unknown fact that the range and scope of internet technology is vast, and this directly leads to the segmentation of jobs in this sector.

When the web was young, the first real masters of marketing online were the webmasters. These were extremely skilled individuals who's expertise spanned many different skill sets, from graphic design, to copywriting. They had to be a jack of all trades because back then, the internet was not a viable business opportunity, and most companies would think that there is no return on investment in the internet, hence they would reduce the investment by employing a jack of all trades.

As the web grew up, so did the job roles and the webmasters became separated into various different roles. There were web designers, web developers, search engine optimizers, graphic designers and even more.

The problem this presents is that the assumption a lot of people tend to have, is that web designers or web developers should know about SEO, however that is not the case. This is because as the web grew up, and more and more jobs were created in their individual fields, then the skills were narrowed and so the all in one webmaster no longer exists.

Saying a web designer should know SEO is like saying an architect should know how to operate a ground digger.

What a company wants when they say they want SEO, is merely they want additional leads from achieving a higher position in a search engine. If you could show the company additional ways to gain leads then the objective would be met another way.

There are other motives for wanting top position in search engines other than getting leads. For example you might want to obtain position to stop the competition from getting those higher spots.

Because there is now a lack of basic knowledge in SEO in all areas of internet roles outside of SEO, what we fundamentally come against all the time are people with websites which don't rank, and haven't had even the basic fundamentals of SEO applied to them.

It's actually quite disturbing how often this is true. 8 out of 10 times we see this as the case, and the trouble is, companies have spent hundreds or maybe thousands of pounds on their new website, only to find out that they have to spend more on SEO!

A good website production company would ensure this does not happen. Website production is the combination of all disciplines to produce websites that cover every aspect an old school webmaster would. In essence, they create entire online ventures that rank well and look great.

Search marketing is an interesting and always evolving area of internet technology. One of the bit of advice I always warn companies about are SEO companies who claim to "guarantee" results on a search engine.

This is a false claim. No decent SEO company would make such a claim because the fact of the matter is, no SEO company can guarantee results. Why? It's because the search engines keep their search algorithms top secret. No company in SEO could ever know for sure what the criteria is for listing high in search engines. Even if they did get close to the magic formula, this algorithm is an ever changing and evolving piece of code. Search engines update their algorithms sometimes as much as every few days.

This is why no SEO company could ever guarantee results. If they do, you can challenge them with this new knowledge you've gained about how it works.

Once you get a company on board to help you with the optimisation of your website, there are a few key things you need to make sure happens.

1)      You need to ensure an adequate measuring mechanism is put in place to chart results over time. These must include link growth, pages indexed, positional changes over time.

2)      Another thing to be wary of is the SEO company recommendations on what keywords to target. It's despicable, but what I've seen before are companies which try to push certain keywords onto the customer, only because they know it is far easier to get listed and optimised highly for those words, but ultimately those words aren't useful in terms of the type of traffic it might or might not bring. They do this so that it makes them look good for having achieved page 1 ranking for certain terms for the customer. The customer is then under the illusion that the SEO company is doing well, furthermore the company might even use those terms to display on their own websites, thereby fooling yet more people into believing that the company really can get results. Let's not beat around the bush, getting results for long tail super-niche terms are easy. The good SEO company would advise on the keywords which are competitive, but not out of reach.

3)      Keep the SEO company accountable. Find out what exactly they are doing for you on a monthly and weekly basis. Most decent SEO programs will need to be run for at least a minimum of 3 months, so during this time, schedule calls to keep them on their toes.

4)      Question their strategies. There are many different strategies in advanced SEO. It's good to get the company to explain to you what the ones they are using are. This way, even in you don't understand what it means, you can Google it and find out for yourself whether it is really effective, or just gobbledygook.

5)      Make sure they are tracking your competitors. The best way to determine the algorithm components that work for your industry sector is to see what the top list sites are doing. There are a number of online tools which allow you to find out statistics of competing sites, and by doing the correct research, you can spot what they are doing to succeed. Ask your SEO company if they know how your competition are listing highly.

These are the key pointers to be aware of. In the 10 years I've been an Internet entrepreneur, I have not yet come across an SEO company that has impressed me. I once employed the services of an SEO company that was in the top 10 in the UK. After 3 months it was clear that I would be consulting them on what to do. It turned out that in fact the advice had provided to them, gave them additional value and competitive advantage of which they applied to their other clients. They should have been paying me rather than the other way around.

So, what I'm saying is that sometimes even the top companies don't know what they are doing. If you can find yourself an old school webmaster who has been in the industry for 10 or more years, I'd say take their advice over a three year old SEO company.