The Dark Art of SEO?

search engine optimization
By Danny Chapman

SEO (search engine optimisation) is largely considered a “dark art”, when in fact it is the opposite. The experts among us are being tarnished by hundreds, if not thousands of individuals selling services that will not work. I myself have been approached by several so called experts offering me guaranteed number 1 on Google for $200; this is simply not achievable in the real world.

Gaining top rankings on Google or other search engines should be considered as important as having a website itself, would you rather have a website with a great design, great feel and great content with no visitors or an average site with thousands of visitors? I know which I would choose.

So back to the scammers, how do they do it? I hear you ask. Well they don’t, is the simple answer, for your money you may get one keyword on the first page or simply have a $50 adwords budget that will last 1 hour. But considering you are a lawyer in New York and you are now at number one spot for the key phrase “cheap small business lawyer in new York” which gets a grand total of 4 searches a month for $200 cost, would you be happy?. Realistically and done correctly you would look to invest in gaining competitive rankings for “lawyers New York” which could be done to some extent for the $200 we speak of, almost certainly not top spot but with continual growth and natural organic growth you could get there in a short period of time.

There are many ways that smaller firms get tricked into buying false SEO packages, so called guaranteed results and my pet hate… directory submissions. Answer me this question, if you’re are Mr Google and you want the searcher to get the exact result they are looking for at any point in time, why would a site that is listed in every directory on the web be helpful to that viewer? It wouldn’t. The solution I would call the “implied natural” route, where you attempt to manipulate search engines using various techniques to place your sites higher than your competition, this is the process of SEO.

Though SEO is far more intricate than that, there are over 200 different ways in which Google’s algorithm monitors and decides whether your site is worthy of that number 1 ranking. Broad guidelines like:

  • Get relevant inbound links
  • Use social networking
  • Carefully choose title tags

Are all on the right lines, though for the beginner or experienced SEO’er alike the major factor you should ask yourself is: is it good for the viewer? If yes then do it. Yes you should have in-content links to relevant pages, yes you should only have a certain amount of the same word on the page and yes your URL would be determined as more relevant if it contained keywords that matched the body content.


Following all of the techniques of the standard SEO professional is not always enough; sometimes you need a little more. This is where links come in; there are several methodologies behind why a backward link is beneficial to your site but I like to think of them as “votes”, generally the more good quality links you have the more chance you have of ranking highly. Though it is down to the buyer to beware and to understand the value of each link. The key lies in the detail, quality is better than quantity. My advice would be to vary the type, quality and demographics of the links to appear the most natural. After all Google does not want SEO specialists determining what is the highest ranking site, they want to control the SERP’s (search engines results page). Much like the OFT (office of fair trading), they are the governing body of the web; they can with the flick of a switch change what is valuable on the web.

So in conclusion, SEO is an art that needs to be done correctly from the outset of any campaign on the web. You should seek guidance and references before using the services of a company or individual and please please please do not fall prey to the “quick fix” and especially those 10,000 directory submission packages.

For more information, guidance or advice, contact me at [email protected].

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ivan Widjaya

Ivan Widjaya is the Owner/Editor of, as well as several other blogs. He is a business blogger, web publisher and content marketer for SMEs.