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SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. In other words, it’s the process by which you make changes & organize the content on your website in the hopes of securing a higher rank on search engines, namely Google. Why is SEO important? Research has shown that the vast majority of people never go beyond the first page of search results. What’s even more important, is that on the first page a whopping 67.70% of clicks go to the first 5 search results.

The end result is that websites on the first page, and especially in the first 5 positions will monopolize all of the search traffic for any given query. Let’s look at a real world example and see how this translates into dollars.

Google serch query

Through keyword research, we can estimate that the search query ‘plumber in vancouver’ receives an average of 1500 searches a month. Based on the average conversion rate for that industry(2.40%), there are approximately 36 paid jobs monthly up for grabs. Multiplied by the average value of each job, in our example $135, the overall monthly value of this keyword is $4,860.

Here is a breakdown of what you could expect to earn if you were in the top three positions for this keyword.

Search Position % Of Clicks Received Number of Clicks Received Number of Conversions Total Value
1 32% 480 11.5 $1,552.50
2 15% 225 5.4 $729.00
3 10% 150 3.6 $472.50

Clearly we can see the benefit in top rankings for a keyword. Now imagine instead of plumbing, we were searching for a lawyer, or an insurance agent, or a wedding venue with catering, music, and bridal hair & makeup services included where the average sale could be in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Being on the first page of Google can be a massive boost to your business’ overall profit.

white hat vs black hat seo

A common SEO debate

White Hat, Black Hat, Blue Hat, Yellow Hat

You may come across the terms ‘White Hat’ or ‘Black Hat’ (there’s no blue or yellow hat) and no definition of SEO would be complete without them. The color of the hat refers to the type of SEO techniques being used, and if they are allowed under Google’s webmaster guidelines (White Hat) or if they go against Google’s guidelines (Black hat).

Many people will employ black hat techniques in an attempt to game the system, artificially increasing their position beyond where it deserves to be. A classic example would be to repeat the keyword you want to rank for 1000x in the footer of your site, however make the text the same color as the background so the user doesn’t see it, but it will be picked up by Google.

Does Black Hat SEO work?

Yes and no. While it is possible to increase your rankings with these techniques, Google is constantly evolving and getting very good at catching websites engaging in this behavior. Once discovered, Google can penalize your site resulting in lower rankings, and may even decide to de-index your website entirely. In our opinion the risk simply isn’t worth the temporary reward.

Negative SEO

Black Hat SEO also contains the realm of Negative SEO, which is when you attempt to hurt your competitors rankings on search engines. While we don’t want to discuss how to actually engage in negative SEO, we will offer our thoughts on why you shouldn’t do it in the event you Google it yourself.

Why you shouldn’t try to negative SEO your competitors

  1. It’s ethically dubious. At some point you have to ask yourself how you want to run your business. Would you intentionally vandalize a competitors storefront offline?
  2. There’s no guarantee it will work. You may end up spending days or weeks trying to negative SEO your competitor, only to have Google ignore your efforts completely.
  3. You could end up benefiting them! Google doesn’t evenly apply their webmaster guidelines across the web. Things that may hurt one website, may actually help another.

At the end of the day, it’s a much better use of time and resources to focus on building your own SEO strategy, than worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Can I protect myself from Negative SEO?
Yes! Which is why we offer negative SEO monitoring with our WordPress web hosting service.

We hope this post has helped to show the meaning of SEO, and define some of the related terms. Have any questions? Ask in the comments below!