SEO: Standard Practices vs. Best Practices

What Hundreds of Firms Will Do for You

Standard content optimization tactics.

Click the image above to jump to a 2003 article written for Information World Review about the basic optimization actions to take. Unlike some of the SEO recommendations from some experts, ArnoldIT’s tips are practical and well within the reach of any Web-savvy professional.

In early 2005, Erik Arnold, an advisor to Arnold IT and technical advisor to the U.S. Federal government’s search initiatives, attended a major SEO conference in New York City. When asked about the conference, he said: “Every speaker said the same thing: ‘Give us money. We can make your site number one on Google.’ Even PRNewswire was saying it was a search engine optimization conference. Every booth told the same story. The attendees were hungry for real help. Most of the vendors were preying on these people.”

There are some standard optimization tactics. On this Web site are PowerPoint presentations that provide specific tips for getting a site to move up in rankings on Google, MSN, and Yahoo, as well as other Web search services. But there is a big difference between “move up” and “be number one.”

The Web search companies have hit upon a business model that works. It is very simple. Advertisers and Web masters will pay to buy a listing or a tiny piece of screen real estate when search results are displayed. As a result, Google, MSN, and Yahoo want their ad revenues to grow.

In order to make this happen, new sites or changed sites usually will get a lift when an index is refreshed. This assumes, of course, that the Web master follows some commonsense “rules.” For example, a good practice is avoid using forbidden words in the site, playing programmatic tricks to fool the indexing robot, or creating a poorly coded site that prevents a spider from indexing it.

Once a site gets a boost, it is not unusual for that site to drift downward in the rankings. Google uses a number of factors to determine where a site is placed in rankings. But one thing is certain. Once a site has been high in the rankings, the Webmaster wants it to stay there. If a site drops in the rankings, the Webmaster will pull out the stops and use the techniques that range from better indexing to more substantial content and beyond.

When the site does not regain its former high ranking, what has the search site created? The answer is a Webmaster ready to buy advertising. Many people at search sites say in front of large and gullible audiences that organic rankings are objective. Nevertheless, a pragmatic Webmaster is going to tweak the site and buy ads. In the long run, buying ads complements organic adjustments to Web sites. More and more Webmasters are concluding that buying traffic is part of the present Internet environment.

Most SEO companies, not surprisingly, sell two types of services. The first is fixing and tuning an existing Web site to make it more attractive to spiders. The second service is identifying words competitors with higher rankings are buying. Once these words are know, SEO experts morph into advertising agencies. The client pays the SEO agency to buy the key words and manage the advertising process. The client wants traffic on a Web site.

Organic search results “pull” better than ads. But when a Web master needs traffic, lower clickthrough rates are acceptable as long as there are a reasonable number of visitors, impressions, and hopefully sales.

ArnoldIT does not buy ads for its clients. It does recommend to its clients what keywords and indexing terms to include in a site. The client is equipped to buy these terms directly or deal with another third party.

ArnoldIT does optimize Web sites that can be enhanced in an efficient manner. If a Web site cannot be optimized given its form, content, or technical framework, ArnoldIT will provide engineering information to the client. The client can then go back to the developer of the Web site and get the optimization tasks done by the original programming team.

In short, ArnoldIT does SEO with a solid technical footprint. Our business is focused on maximizing the return for our clients’ Web investments. Simply stated, our engineers won’t optimize a site when that optimization is unlikely to have a benefit for our client. When optimization will work, the ArnoldIT team maintains a list of more than 90 factors that go into adjusting a site to become spider friendly. Our list of factors is proprietary and reflects the key checkpoints for Google, MSN, and Yahoo. In our experience, this checklist provides a practical way to make a Web site comply with current standards for optimal indexing and generate clicks for our clients.

Among the factors on the Arnold IT checklist are:

  1. Inclusion of a site in important directories such as DMOZ and Yahoo
  2. Use of appropriate metatags with six to eight keywords in each metatag
  3. A flat site map designed to make it easy for a spider to crawl a Web site for content
  4. Backlink targets plus a mechanism for contacting targeted sites and requesting an exchange of backlinks
  5. Proven content enrichment techniques that provide visitors with essential information without creating a burdensome editorial and copyright challenge.

If you would like to know more about our SEO best practices, give us a call or send us an e-mail.

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Contact Mr. Arnold at:

Postal Box 320
Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky 40027, USA
Voice: (502) 228-1966
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