You will hear from people that doing search engine optimization or SEO is hard. It's not. Okay, now that I've put myself out of a job and shut down the company because of it, why do SEO companies even exist? The simple answer is time, education, and knowledge.
Doing SEO takes time. Without the right tools, you are looking at 30-40 hours per month at a minimum. You can get down to only a few hours with the right tools.
Education isn't college like you might think, but spending 1-2 hours per day studying and learning new techniques, reading patents (yes, that's a thing!), and adapting quickly (e.g., being agile). Google comes out with over 1,000 updates (big and small) every year.
Knowledge is part of education. Knowledge is taking the time you spend plus the education and knowing how to do SEO based on following the best practices and considering your industry and what your customers are currently doing. There are areas you can push to grow and others that will hurt your business.
SEO is a methodology of taking information on your website (e.g., products, services, customer support, etc.) and making it so that you are found and indexed on the search engines.
There are many types of SEO. Rather than a lengthy explanation I've chosen to give you the top bullets covering ORGANIC SEO and paid advertising.
I believe in an omnichannel approach to target the widest range of customers. I believe that you need to first use organic SEO. Once that is set up and running, fill in any gaps in your customers/traffic and augment with paid ads.
If you had to choose one and not the other I would always recommend to do paid ads. The reason for this being you can only choose one it means you have no long-term strategy and organic SEO is the marathon to the results that produce commulative results.
First is what everyone calls "White Hat," which is the biggest misnomer a person can say, as there is no white hat or even gray hat. Only black hat. The search engines state that it is not allowed if you're making any changes on your website to gamify and get top results that you shouldn't do it. Okay, that's a laugh, but they really believe that, and to a degree, we do as well. With that magical statement out of the way, what really are white, gray, and black hat SEO techniques?
You do everything within the happy areas of SEO. You set proper title tags that are not filled with spammy keywords. You put descriptions on the page that match the content of the page. Every page has one H1 (header tag -- the cover of a book), multiple H2's (chapters of a book), and then H3 to H6 (in order) on the site to help users (as needed).
This is definitely the safest of any method. Often you do nothing and "hope" they come, that you've created lightning in a bottle, and you make your millions just by sitting back and enjoying the show.
You like to push your limits but will do things you know that will likely not get you penalized by the search engines. If you are penalized, it is reasonably easy to correct. We like to think of this as the 80/20 rule, where 80% of what you do is white hat, and 20% is where you push the limits in the hope that they become white hat as they are not dishonest but not fully supported. Examples are creating backlinks on sites. You usually would on places like the white/yellow pages as they are safe, social media, etc. The areas that become more questionable are blogging sites and sites not related to your industry. Businesses do this as backlinks are a ranking factor.
This is where almost every SEO company lives. We utilize software to help us automate as much as we can, we look at the data, we adjust, and we repeat. How fast the needle moves comes to how much time is done on your digital marketing.
You love hearing the latest ways of gamifying search engines to win out over everyone. If you feel it will give you a "quick win," you do it no matter the consequences. You're not opposed to being penalized by search engines.
Examples that are routinely done are pages on your site and blogging sites that are generic and filled with spam words. You will see an immediate boost almost always, and that is why many do it.
When doing black hat SEO, you have to consider this a short-term win with long-term consequences.
Your business needs SEO to get reliable results on search engines. By focusing on the search engines, you are developing a long-term strategy for growth and success.