Debunking the SEO Myth
We consider ourselves to be seasoned web designers and developers here at Dumbwaiter. We've been asked all kinds of questions during the course of our web projects, but perhaps one of the most commonly asked is "Do you guys do SEO?". This question is inherently wrong due to common misconceptions. In fact, it's completely backwards. We typically follow this question up by taking a deep breath before explaining the revealing and relieving truth:
SEO is not something that we do and is not something you need to pay for. SEO is something you should do and it is completely free.
This might seem like a drastic stance to take, but through our content strategy and development phases, we build everything from scratch to aid your website in getting the highest rankings right out of the gate.
The power is in your hands.
Ultimately, your company or organization is in the best position to improve their SEO. They are most familiar with the business and are most capable of writing the type of content that will please the search engine gods, and more importantly, your viewers. Unfortunately, most companies do not support the infrastructure to do this and as a result, outsource the "problem" to SEO companies that claim to magically improve your rankings for what are often large fees.
At Dumbwaiter, we instead pride ourselves in building custom content management systems that allow our customers, even those with limited knowledge of computers, to easily update and maintain the content on their website. This keeps the content fresh and relevant. Fresh, relevant content that adds value to your website is the golden ticket to better SEO.
Don't game the system.
Unfortunately, many people have fallen prey to the myth that SEO is a mysterious art that only experts can understand. It's not surprising when so many companies claim to sell "SEO" and even offer guaranteed results. What is surprising is that some of these claims actually have merit. It is possible to manipulate the system, to a point, but the results will not last without continual investment. Moreover, once you set up and structure your website properly, it is likely that the more you spend on SEO, the less you will get in return.
SEO consumers beware: Google will penalize you for trying to play the system (which many of these companies do) by actually lowering your search rankings.
It's one thing to trick a computer system, but it's another to trick a human being (or many human beings for that matter). Lots of keywords packed densely into a series of blog posts might make Google index your website more, but the number of people linking to that content will be low. Therefore, the goal should not be optimizing for search engines, but rather optimizing for people.
We value building long-lasting professional relationships with our clients and have no desire to trick anyone (even search engines such as Google). Presenting people with the best, most relevant websites to a users search query is Google's specialty. Optimizing those websites for people is ours.
So, how do you do it?
In summary (and without going into too much detail), the best way to improve your Google search rankings is to always keep your website up to date with concise, well-written content that clearly explains what the website is about in addition to writing standards-compliant HTML code. It's no secret either, you can read about it in far greater detail right on Google's page titled "Best Practices to Help Google Find, Crawl, and Index Your Website".
The inconvenient truth is that SEO is ultimately your responsibility. There is no direct action we can take to make you rank higher in search engine results. However, we do our part by ensuring your website is built using the highest quality of standards-compliant code and a custom CMS that lets you have complete control over your content. The easier we make it for you to update your content, the more frequently you will do it, and that is the best way to improve SEO.
For an even more blunt and descriptive analysis of the misconceptions surrounding "Search Engine Optmization", check out this awesome article posted by one of the most reputable web sources on the internet, Smashing Magazine.