One of the major ‘black arts’ on the Internet is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In a nutshell, SEO are methods to increase the ranking of a link to a web location in search results. Many businesses believe that they will automatically receive more income if they appear at the top of search engine rankings.

Unfortunately many businesses believe they needs to pay significant amounts of money to companies specializing in SEO to move themselves up the rankings. In my experience this is simply money down the drain.

The first thing that you need to appreciate is that the algorithm that Google uses when it comes to ranking search results is propriety. That means that no one outside Google knows how much weighting different items are given. Another thing about the algorithm is that it is constantly changing.

Now many SEO-optimization businesses claim they can reverse engineer Google’s algorithm but this is probably more smoke and mirrors than science. However, even before you dive into SEO you need to determine what your target audience will be searching for. Once you have a few key terms then you can start optimizing your information that appears on the web.

At the most basic level, the more locations on the web that refer back to your site the higher the ranking. Another key metric you should consider when it comes to SEO is to look at how much fresh content is appearing on your sites. Most web site have the same copy and thus are generally unappealing to Google which is always looking for something fresh. Maintaining something as simple as a blog is a great way to always have new and enticing information for Google to search.

Another important step is to ensure that the copy you create is targeted for the search terms you are attempting to rank well for. This means peppering you content with these key search terms.

Now you can certainly devote a lot of time and effort to SEO but before you do have you asked yourself whether it is worth it? Are you likely to attract the customers you want using it or simply those looking to get the cheapest price? In short, marketing via SEO is not everything it is cracked up to be and there are better and cheaper ways to producing much better results.

If you want people to read the content you create then you need to ensure that it provides value. People will read and refer what you write if it helps them and potentially others they  may know. The secret to gaining high SEO is really more about being consistent. This means you need to regularly create fresh material to keep attracting not only Google but others also.

Social media is also a great way to lift your business profile. Do you have a social media strategy? Are you implementing and measuring the results? Look around at how most other businesses approach social media, they typically ignore it or fail to implement it consistently. That should spell business opportunity for you.

In summary, you need to beware of believing that SEO is the magic silver bullet to solve all your marketing needs. Even before you start you need to determine what is your strategy is and to go from there. Don’t allow an SEO-optimizing business to take money from you for something most cannot deliver. Instead build your online presence with things such as blogs and social media. Then you’ll create real value and likewise be rewarded for this not only in search but also in word of mouth.