Over the years, search engine optimization (SEO) has transformed from a black-hat, super-secret, snake oil type of service to something akin to Jiffy Lube. Everyone knows what goes on at Jiffy Lube – few secrets are there. But you still use them because they get the job done and you don’t have to crawl underneath the car yourself and get your hands greasy.
Google has taken away most of the ability to “scam the index.” The demise of the keywords meta tag is the most direct evidence of that. More evidence suggests that the big companies that think they can pull one over on the boys in Mountain View by using certain nefarious tricks are frequently being caught and penalized.
The best advice continues to be to concentrate on good structure and good content for your website and the rest will take care of itself. Good structure includes proper page titles, use of headline tags where appropriate, and good page descriptions. Good content, and plenty of it, is self-explanatory. A simple blog section that is frequently updated can help small sites expand their content well beyond the simple “About Us” and “Products and Services” pages.
I just read an article in Smithsonian magazine about how the original script of The Wizard of Oz was so heavily edited it was hard to recognize the original. The screenplay and iconic movie, by most accounts, was one of the few instances where the movie improved on the original book. Google has definitely improved the original script and made the search process more relevant to its users. Like the wizard in the movie, the SEO tricksters are just smoke and mirrors these days.