July 23, 2024

Though it may sound like a buzzword, search engine optimization (SEO) actually does more than get you on top of Google’s search results; it actually paves the way for most businesses to start promoting and advertising their name online.

Today, the term SEO is tossed around like confetti at a party. For businesses, it’s often hailed as the golden ticket to online success, while for individuals, it’s often seen as the villain behind modern search engine results.

But what exactly is SEO, and why does it carry so much weight online? How did it evolve from obscurity to become a multibillion-dollar industry seemingly overnight? In this article, we’re pulling back the curtain on SEO, revealing the secrets that industry insiders might not want you to know but that you deserve to understand.

is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the practice, science, and art of improving a website’s visibility in search engine results. It involves optimizing various elements of a site so it can rank higher for specific keywords relevant to your content.

For example, if you run a bakery in New York City, SEO helps your website appear at the top of search results when someone searches for “best bakery NYC.” Through strategic keyword research, content optimization, and technical enhancements, SEO aims to drive organic traffic to your site and increase your chances of attracting potential customers.

Implementing SEO techniques improves your chances of appearing higher in search results, which is pretty essential. After all, when’s the last time you went past the first page or two of a Google search?

The Importance of SEO Today

Countless websites are competing for attention, and ideally, SEO directs traffic toward your website organically.

1. Visibility

Google processes over 100,000 searches per second, and for every search, its algorithm decides what results to show. Appearing at the top of the results can be a game-changer for businesses and individuals alike. Without a robust online presence, you can get swept away no matter how well-intentioned your content is.

2. Credibility

However, with SEO strategies, you have a better shot at rising to the top of your relevant keywords. When users turn to search engines for answers, they generally trust higher results more. Appearing as a top search result usually tells users that your website is a reputable source of information. It’s not just about visibility; it’s also about credibility and trust

3. Cost-savings

Conventional advertising methods, such as print or television commercials, require significant financial investment. SEO instead leverages organic search traffic, meaning users find your website naturally.

While SEO services require an initial investment of time and resources to implement effective strategies, the long-term benefits far outweigh the costs. Once your website begins ranking prominently in search results, you can receive a steady stream of website visitors without continually shelling out money for advertising.

4. Future-proofing

As the internet becomes more ubiquitous, new channels, such as virtual assistants and smart speakers, are introduced to the ecosystem. Users interact with search engines in new ways, meaning SEO remains relevant even with new formats. 

For example, people are less likely to type their questions when driving and instead are more likely to use voice search to ask questions or make queries using natural language instead of typing in keywords. This shift presents a new opportunity to optimize content for conversational queries. SEO marketing doesn’t become obsolete; it simply adapts.

The Problem with SEO

However, many SEO promises may not be all they claim to be. While, ideally, it helps businesses become more visible while providing more helpful content to consumers, its misuse and abuse present significant challenges that can ruin the point of SEO efforts.

For consumers

SEO is undoubtedly a valuable strategy for improving online visibility, but there’s a catch: the system is often gamed by those seeking to exploit it for their own gain. Ideally, when you perform a search, you should find the most relevant and reliable information that satisfies your query.

Your engagement with the content—such as clicking on a link, spending time on the page, or sharing it with others—signals to algorithms that the content is valuable and should be prioritized for similar searches in the future. Ideally, it’s a positive feedback loop that promotes user-friendly websites with high-quality information.

However, SEO techniques are almost exclusively used by businesses competing for your money. Many websites employ tactics to artificially inflate their rankings, often at the expense of providing genuine value to the user. This practice leads to spreading content that may not be the most informative or helpful but rather the most adept at gaming the system.

As a result, users get bombarded with disguised ads prioritizing SEO tactics over substance, making it difficult to discern the genuinely valuable resources from those manipulating their way to the top of the results.

For businesses

The misuse of SEO not only affects users seeking information but also undermines the efforts of legitimate businesses trying to connect with their target audience and build a strong brand identity. As users become increasingly aware of overt advertising and sales pitches disguised as informative content, businesses risk losing credibility and trust.


Potential customers are learning to navigate around traditional market tactics, seeking unbiased opinions and genuine recommendations from their peers on platforms like Reddit or Quora. As a result, users are increasingly distrustful of online content, gravitating towards alternative sources for information and recommendations.

When businesses prioritize SEO tactics over providing meaningful content and genuine value to their audience, they contribute to the proliferation of low-quality, spammy content that clutters search results and diminishes the overall quality of the internet.

In many ways, the internet operates as a shared resource, like a public park. When utilized responsibly, it’s a space where individuals and businesses alike can interact and share ideas. However, just as irresponsible dog owners failing to clean up after their pets can spoil the park for everyone else, the misuse of SEO tarnishes the online experience for all users.

How to Use SEO Ethically

Ethical use of SEO can result in a healthier and more sustainable digital ecosystem. This comprehensive outline lists how businesses can apply SEO strategies ethically without bogging down search engines with advertisements.

1. Focus on quality content

One of the most ethical and effective SEO strategies is to prioritize creating high-quality, valuable content. This practice means producing content that is informative, engaging, and relevant to your target audience without overstuffing it with keywords.

Create blog posts, articles (like this one!), videos, and infographics that aim to provide genuine value to your audience without focusing solely on keyword optimization or search engine rankings.

2. Follow search engine guidelines

Stay informed about the latest guidelines and best practices set forth by major search engines like Google’s published starter guide. These guidelines outline acceptable SEO techniques and help level the playing field between mega-corporations and personal bloggers. Adhering to these guides helps you avoid penalties and maintain the integrity of your website.

3. Use keywords naturally and sparingly

We’re not saying to cut keywords entirely, but at least try your best to incorporate relevant keywords into your content without them sounding forced. Avoid overloading your content with excessive keywords to try to manipulate search engine rankings. It’s distasteful and evident to everyone who reads your content.

Instead, create content that flows smoothly and strategically integrates keywords where appropriate.

4. Prioritize user experience

User experience plays a crucial role in the utility of your website. Even if you provide the best, most value-adding content, it can get buried by a difficult-to-navigate site. Design an easily—navigable and mobile-friendly website. You should have clear and concise navigation menus and readable font sizes to be as accessible as possible.

Remember, satisfied users are more likely to engage with your content and signal its quality to search engines.

5. Earn backlinks authentically

Backlinks, or links from other websites to yours, are one of the few revealed ranking factors in SEO that make a significant difference. One way businesses manipulate search engine rankings is by buying links on sites that exist for this specific purpose.

However, though admittedly also more complicated, earning authentic backlinks by creating valuable content that other websites can cite is a much more ethical and effective way of optimizing your search engine results.

6. Engage with your audience

Create meaningful interactions with your audience across various online platforms to create a lasting positive brand image. Note that asking for interactions is fine, but try to avoid reaction-bait content to build credibility.

Respond to comments, address questions, and participate in discussions related to your niche or industry. Authentic engagement builds trust and cultivates a loyal following over time.

Ethical SEO for a Better Internet

To summarize, SEO is a fantastic tool that parties can use. However, its abuse becomes detrimental to its original goal. Online visibility can often dictate success, so it’s easy to succumb to the allure of shortcuts and manipulative tactics. However, ethical practices are a necessity if we want a healthier and still usable internet in the future.

Interesting Related Article: “Common Challenges Businesses Face when Implementing SEO in the Philippines

SEO Secrets They Don’t Want You to Know (But We’re Sharing Anyway!) first appeared on Web and IT News.

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