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SEOThis article from Melbourne newspaper The Age saddened me.

Businesses being taken for a ride to the tune of hundreds and even thousands of dollars by unscrupulous people promising marketing results they can’t deliver.

SEO or search engine optimisation isn’t rocket science; it’s challenging but anyone who guarantees you fast “top 10″ or “first page” results on Google (or any other search engine), for a range of keywords is either lying or using “blackhat” techniques to get you there.

While these blackhat techniques used to be seemingly legitimate – keyword stuffing, invisible text and link farming amongst others – and they will work in the short-term, ultimately they will see your site banned. Disaster for any small business!

As SEO “technicians” we need to remember that everything Google does is for the searcher, not websites. As web developers we need to make it as easy as possible for Google to find those answers on our sites (that legitimately hold the answers).

SEO should be included in every website through natural techniques including fresh, good quality content, page titles, ALT tags, etc.

Every website build I complete complies with SEO techniques, usually with excellent results (i.e. one client is at the top of Google within a month of her site going live, based on her name alone). SEO should be an every day tool that every web developer utilises to the best of their ability.

It’s not just the design and build process but also the execution of good quality SEO, as well as the analytic reports to help our clients see how well their site is working that is part of a website build and ongoing maintenance.

With the latest Google Hummingbird update (which, Google assures us, will not affect SEO) marketers have even more opportunity to capitalise on creating fresh, quality content to attract their target audience. As with the Google Panda update, Google is concentrating on good quality, ever-changing content. Content that is useful to your target audience, not just about your latest promotion or product but content that your audience can use to improve their businesses (or their lives, depending on your target audience).

This is the reason I tell all my clients to blog! It really is a great way to get fresh, useful content on to your website and if you’re writing about subjects you’re interested in, i.e. your business, then you’ll naturally include all the keywords, phrases, etc. that you need to improve your search engine ranking.

As users become more used to the Google Hummingbird update we’ll start to see longer posts, more “how to”, more videos and step-by-step instructional guides; giving us greater insight into businesses and how they do what they do and why.

In search engine optimisation and web development, as with all things marketing, you can’t just wing it. You can’t wake up one day and decide that you’re going to “do” marketing for a job. It takes years of testing, trying, challenges to become experienced, let alone an “expert” and, quite frankly, I’d be dubious of anyone who calls themselves a marketing expert in any segment!

The industry is in a constant state of flux, techniques are becoming obsolete, audiences are shifting, new media is emerging…

If you’re engaging someone to complete your marketing tasks for you, especially in web marketing, search engine optimisation and content marketing, it’s just like any other specialised industry: ask for recommendations, check their background and credentials and have a look at their site and past projects.

Don’t just go on their guarantees and promises or it could cost you more than just search engine rankings!