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The Good and Bad of SEO

Angela Brennan
VP, Web Development

You may have spent a lot of money building a website with all the bells and whistles but if the right people can’t find your website then it really doesn’t do you any good. This is the basis behind search engine optimization (SEO): increasing traffic to your website with organic search results from search engines. This is an especially cost-effective tactic for higher ed marketers who continue to be cashed strapped by small budgets.Don’t believe that SEO is that important? Here are some things to consider (click on the data point below to see the source):

So, unless you have absolutely no competition for your keywords, SEO is a cost-effective way to increase visibility for your website.

Here are some 6 white hat tactics that will help increase the return on your web investment:

Infographic created by www.datadial.net
  1. Content: One of the long-term strategies to increase your SEO is to create a content-rich site with keyword density. More valuable content will lead to more traffic, better indexing of your pages, and more inbound links to your site.
  2. Incoming links: Search engine crawlers have a better chance of finding your website if you can be found in more places. However, reciprocal links to generate incoming links should not be done randomly as you don’t want to be linked to bad neighborhoods (black hat tactic).
  3. Sitemaps: A sitemap is a visual representation of the website architecture. If sitemaps are maintained, it can be a useful tool for search engines to find the content on your site and index your pages.
  4. Internal links: Similar to sitemaps, having internal links with relevant keyword text in them make it easier for a search engine to index your pages. Scripts may make your dropdown links look decorative but can’t be indexed by search engines.
  5. Page optimization: Creating SEO-friendly pages can boost your rankings. Some areas to consider are URL structure, pages titles, heading tags, image tags, and meta tags. The use of Flash, JavaScript, and images with text will not increase your SEO.
  6. Look internally: Institutions with brands often have several brand related buzz words that stakeholders often recognize as being connected to the school. Build up words and phrases on your website that compliment the brand.

Here are 5 black hat SEO tactics to stay away from using. These tactcis are often frowned upon.

  1. Keyword stuffing: Some people try to cheat the system by inserting extra keywords for a particular search term in order to be more relevant. These keywords are usually inserted in the content or at the bottom of the page.
  2. Hidden text: Similar to keyword stuffing, hidden text is when keywords are added inconspicuously to a web page. Usually, the text will match the background color so that visitors to the sight cannot see the text.
  3. Doorway pages: Also referred to as gateway pages or invisible pages, these web pages are not intended to be viewed by the users and are created to be optimized strictly for the search engines. Usually users are automatically redirected from these invisible pages to the “real” page.
  4. Cloaking: Another form of doorway pages, cloaking works by providing different content to search engine spiders, which is determined by their IP address. The search engine spider will get content that isn’t visible to the regular user.
  5. Parasite hosting: This is a practice where a keyword filled page is created and hosted on an older or trusted domain to increase traffic. Once at this page, the visitor is then redirected or must click a link to get to the “real” destination. This is often used with .edu domains.

Another helpful way to look at SEO and some of its tactics is in the infographic to the right (click the image to see it larger. Then once at the larger image, zoom in to see it even larger).  Before I leave you, does anyone else have any useful SEO tactics they like or dislike?

4 Replies to “The Good and Bad of SEO”

  1. Good start – one aspect we find of particular value is making sure you keep things fresh. Dynamic content rich with keywords is of particular importance.

    Good overview – last thing – if an SEO firm guarantees you results – RUN, run quick and run hard.

  2. Rick ~ You are so right about being cautious when SEO firms guarantee too much. SEO is not a science and the techniques can change daily. I have seen SEO firms claim that they can get first page rankings, they have a special relationship with search engines, they work with lots of search engines (even though the majority of people only use 4 search engines), and they use black hat tactics. Unfortunately, the results can mean anything from increased rankings of unpopular search terms that don’t increase traffic to your site to having your site banned from the search engines.

    I hope that you were not speaking from experience.

  3. Pingback: SEO on the Brain

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