SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It's a field that is nearly as old as the Internet, dating back to at least the time when people first began to think, "Hey, there are a LOT of web sites out there. How do the search engines figure out which ones to put first?"
Back then, it was actually relatively easy to reverse-engineer how search engines did this. Google didn't even exist at the time. It was mainly companies like America Online, Yahoo, Lycos, Netscape, and a bunch of other now-forgotten pioneers of that field. Fast-forward to today, and the behemoth company is of course Google. And, while they are certainly no where near as scary as "Big Brother" in George Orwell's novel 1984, they are nonetheless almost unimaginably influential in today's society, and representative of some remarkably intelligent technology.
In the old days -- even up through the early 2000's -- it was possible to "trick" search engines into giving you top placement for the keywords of your choice. Some of these tactics included setting up thousands of bogus incoming links to your web site from vast server farms maintained by SEO companies. This sort of thing is referred to by Google as "black hat" SEO. And, while there are still underhanded and shady tricks that may work for a time, trust us: You do NOT want to get involved in any kind of search engine manipulation scheme. Not only are such things ethically wrong, but they could substantially harm your online presence in the long-run. Google is intelligent already, and it will only become increasingly so.
It's no longer possible to reverse-engineer their ultra-complex algorithms for how they order search results -- not that there aren't countless companies trying to do so. If anyone could figure out how to guarantee a sustainable, number-one rating on Google for any search term, they would rule Google (and Google will not allow that). Of course, some terms are worth more than others. Imagine being the #1 result for something relatively innocent-sounding like, say, "Gardening." That's the #1 hobby in America and, according to Google, gets 2.7 million searches per month. (I'm sure there are many keywords even more popular, but just wanted a quick example.)
So, being #1 for something that broad would be unimaginably tough to accomplish. And, even if you did, the fact of that word's value would mean that thousands of others would be continually trying to best your results. So, you'd have to keep an enormous team of people incredibly vigilant to stay on top.
The Good News
SEO is many orders of magnitude easier when you specialize. If you were to optimize for, say, "Gardening Portland," you'd find that there are only 2,400 searches on that phrase per month -- nearly exactly 1,000 times fewer than the broad term "gardening." Of course, would still likely be some competition for that traffic. But, it's almost certainly much less competition, and much less sophisticated competition as well. This is just one reason why local marketing is easier to get great results from. Another reason is that Google considers numerous non-Google web sites and directories while ranking your company in its search results -- and these sites quite often cater to local companies (that is, companies that serve local markets as opposed to those competing nationally for keywords).
Marketing Portland specializes in local marketing initiatives. We work for companies that have a local business presence (not necessarily in Portland). By leveraging locally-centered SEO campaigns and numerous national directories that work best for local businesses, we can get boost your organization's findability in a profound way -- and all completely "white-hat" and above-board. No tricks, no shady stuff, just well thought-out, strategic online marketing!
Remember, 97% of consumers are now searching online for what they need. Gone are the days of phone books and printed directories. 96% of newspapers saw their circulations fall last year! These are telling statistics, and truly underscore everyone's need to start paying serious attention to this critical area. But, you're too busy doing YOUR business to do all of these time-consuming things, right? Well, again, that's why we're here! :-)