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Search Engine Optimization is Really Pretty Simple

This article can be freely reprinted and distributed provided it is unchanged and include the "About The Author" section with the link to Lillicotch.com intact.

There has been quite a bit of talk going around SEO blogs lately about whether Search Engine Optimization is dying or is already dead. I don’t believe that either is true.

One of the main reasons for their argument is that SEO is really pretty simple and anyone can do it for themselves so you don't really need to hire someone for SEO. I don't dispute that this is true, as there are really only three main rules for optimizing your site for the search engines.

Rule 1

Have good navigation that search engines can read and follow. Programs (bots) cannot read Javascript or Flash navigation very well. I have found this to be true for human visitors as well - the more complicated it is the less usable it usually is. It really doesn't matter if you have the best content in the world, if it can't be found it won't do anyone any good.

Using regular links and CSS (cascading style sheets) you can make your navigation system look cool, colorful and stylish as well as easy to use and follow. It is even possible to have fancy drop down menus and other hover effects.

Rule 2

Have good content in plain text and regularly keep adding more. You need to write good content using your keywords. Too many keywords, though, and you will get penalized for spam. I have found that reading my content out loud helps me decide if I have tried to stuff too many keywords into my text. If it sounds like spam, it probably is.

It is necessary to constantly add new content to your site to do well in the searches. I see advertisements every day from people looking to buy SEO for their three or four (or ten) page site. This just won't work, although I'm sure there is no shortage of people telling them that it will. Think of the sites that you visit. Why do you keep going back? I'll be willing to bet that it's because there is something new for you to look at every time. This is the very reason that search engines are programmed to revisit sites on a regular basis and look for new content. They want to please their customers. Who is their customer? It's the searcher, not you, the site owner. So, in addition to finding them the site that has the most relevant content, they want to find the searcher a site that they will like and like well enough to return to again.

It is also true that simply by having more content you can be found for many more keywords. I am always surprised by how many people find my site by searching for keywords that I wouldn't have expected them to and if you keep track of those searches you can add even more content related to those search terms.

Rule 3

Getting a higher page rank is something you have less control over. To have your site rank higher, you need to have high ranking sites link to you. This is not very easy to do as high ranking sites are not in the habit of giving links, which can be thought of as a recommendation, to new or lower ranking sites. You can buy or trade links, but usually the sites willing to do this are seen as just that, a link farm whose links are never seen and usually their ranking is not very high anyway. The best way to get other sites to link to you is to provide the other sites with great content so they will want to link to you. One way links to your site are viewed as an endorsement of your content and are much more valuable.

One good way to get links to your site is to add content to other sites in exchange for a link back to your site. I have found that writing articles like this one which includes a link to my site in the "About the author" section have been picked up and posted by many other sites. Some have a higher ranking than others, but no matter what their ranking, it's a win-win situation for both of us. They get good content and I get a one way link back to my site.

You also can submit comments on popular blogs. Usually they will allow you to have a link back to your site as well. It's important that when you are commenting on someone else's site that you say something valuable, relevant to the post and relevant to your site. Comments that are self serving or off the topic stand out as just that and usually are deleted or ignored.


Because SEO is really so simple you will find many supposed “SEO experts” who will try to make it much more complicated and sometimes use questionable techniques just to keep themselves in a job. If you follow these guidelines when you do it yourself or hire someone else to optimize your site you will find your rankings will steadily improve and your site will improve in your visitors eyes as well.

As for whether SEO as a business is going away, I believe that this is simple enough that anyone can do it, but I also believe that there will always be people who are willing to pay someone else to do it. Just because an idea is very simple doesn’t mean that you can’t sell it. Just look at bottled water!

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About The Author...
Jim Lillicotch is a website designer and marketing expert based in Pittsburgh, PA. Jim is the owner of Lillicotch.com. He has worked as a Website Designer and SEO for over 10 years. His passion is helping people start or improve their own sites. He can be reached by through his website Lillicotch.com

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