If you run one or more websites, you are probably inundated with email offers to get your sites in the Top Ten results on major search engines. The offers promise great results and promote their integrity with phrases like “we use only whitehat methods to get the best results” or some other B.S. like that. Why do we call it B.S. you ask? Because the term “whitehat” is not a recognized term and has no specific meaning. It means what you think it means. Good guys wear white hats, right? This must be the good guys then? Better watch out Butch Cassidy!
The problem with most of these “whitehat” methods is that they conceal the truth of what is actually happening. Instead of providing you with the services you need to have a well-optimized website that consistently performs, they simply charge a fee to point a bunch of links at your site long enough to get you in the top results, and then drop you when you don’t continue your subscription. Your website then plummets in the rankings because it was never really set up well to begin with. I.E., you didn’t get the services you really needed.
Good Results Do Not Come From Spamming!
Getting good results that last and having your website as a permanent fixture in the top ten requires more effort than just a few spammy links. It requires well balanced well-written content with enough mass (i.e. words) to equal the average of the other pages already in the top ten. It requires enough relevant inbounds links to equal the other sites already in the top ten. And, it requires traffic to your site that is equal to the average traffic of the other top ten sites.
In many ways, you could say that this is the holy trinity of search engine ranking. This is certainly the key on Google as well as Yahoo! Bing and most other major search engines as well. By employing ranking criteria based on this model, search engines optimize the value of the content found by their visitors. It is most likely the best written and most authoritative content on any given topic. This is what they want to provide to their visitors, and so you need to be that to them.
The Trick Is….Not A Trick!
The central notion here is “authoritative”. That means the top site is believed to be the most relevant site on any given topic. Every site below the top site is slightly less authoritative, and therefore slightly less relevant. Being the most authoritative site is achieved by weaving together a solid foundation of the three elements mentioned above. Content, relevant inbound links and traffic.
Your content needs to be balanced in such a way that it reflects your keywords, and therefore, proclaims to search engines the topic for which your site is relevant to. Being balanced means that you have used your keywords in the title, meta tags, alt tags, and of course within the content itself. The key thing to remember is, write like a human! Do not spam your content with a bunch of repetitions of your keywords as an attempt to out do the other sites. Write as if it is to be read by actual people and you will be fine.
Links are important because they tell search engines that other sites are voting for your site. Relevant links, meaning those which are actually liked from your keywords, are the most desirable, but all inbound links help. Be sure to link your site FROM not TO social sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as directories such as Merchant Circle, Yelp! Yahoo! Directory and Google Directory. Make sure you have a listing in YellowPages.com and Superpages.com and that your site is also linked from other local directories if you are addressing a local market. You should also consider getting links from sites that will provide a hard link or text link to you from your keywords. This is especially true for newer sites in need of PR rank as well.
Getting traffic can be the most challenging aspect of good ranking. How can a small or new website compete with global sites or sites with tens of thousands of visitors? The best way to drive traffic to your site, beyond just getting the links mentioned above, is to use online PPC advertising and other paid ad links, and to employ regular press releases so that your site becomes seeded in many related sites where it will be seen by users searching for your products and services.
Even the best webmasters know that these processes take time, but that they work tried and true. They will also continue to work because you are in fact doing exactly what the search engines want you to do. You are creating great content for their users and going through all the real steps to make sure it gets found by them.