The Secret to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Tue, 10/27/2009 - 7:27am
By: Joe Domaleski

By: Joe Domaleski
President, AIS Solutions Group

As a web professional, the question I get asked most about is how one can achieve high ranking for their website on the major search engines. In the industry, we call this Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short. It is a fact that most people find what they are looking for on the web by using a search engine. It stands to reason that if you want to be found, then you need to be prominently placed in a list of search results.

Do you want to know the secret to SEO success? While we're at it, would you like to find the Fountain of Youth? What if we could locate the Holy Grail along the way? Heck, we just might reach El Dorado, the legendary City of Gold. I know we have smart readers of this website so I'm guessing you probably know the secret by now. That's right, the secret to SEO success is that there is no secret!

Be very wary of companies or individuals that purport to guarantee search engine results. At best, one can guarantee effort, but not results. Several web professionals have likened this to a game of "King of the Hill". Here's what we know about that game: most kings don't last very long and it's constantly changing. Sometimes a website will reach a top ranking and then disappear overnight. It's like chasing the wind.

The formulas and algorithms of the top search engines are closely guarded secrets. Just as there is only one Coca Cola, there are many colas that taste similar but not exactly the same. The exact formulation of Coke is secret as are the search engines formulas.

On the other hand, Coke does list it's ingredients on every bottle, can, and case. In like manner, the major search engines also list the factors and ingredients they take into account for search engine ranking. Did you know that? Are you paying someone to tell you what's already freely available? Google, Yahoo, and many of the other search engines do list Webmaster Guidelines where they lay out the factors that influence SEO.

So if the secret is not secret, when and why should you hire a professional to help with SEO? Well, knowing what needs to be done doesn't mean you know how to do it. There is work to be done to implement specific SEO factors and monitor the results. Because the formulas are constantly changing, it's important to keep up with those changes. An honest professional can intelligently articulate what needs to be done and then do it. If they attempt to guarantee a result, then be very wary. Unlike the securities industry, SEO is not a regulated industry. If an investment professional tried to do the same thing and guarantee a result, they would go to jail. Buyer beware.

If you've made it this far into the article, you were probably hoping I'd list for you the key SEO factors. Even though the "secret" is freely available, I need to make you work just a little for it. Pull up your favorite search engine and go find the "not so secret" secret for yourself. You might have to wade through some questionable stuff, so focus on the information that comes directly from the webmaster guidelines of the search engines themselves. Good luck and Godspeed.

[About the author: Joe Domaleski is president of AIS Solutions Group, a Peachtree City-based technology consulting firm that specializes in website design, development, and technical support. Joe has over 15 years of website development experience. Some of the local area’s largest websites have been developed by AIS Solutions Group. For more information, contact Joe at or 678-783-0138.]

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