The point of SEO is to optimize a website’s content organically (without paying money) so that it brings in views from search engine users. In order to do this, marketers and content writers must utilize keywords that coincide with the things that users are searching for. Just as SEM marketers must pay attention to their target customers, SEO marketers need to do that too. But building keyword lists is a wholly different practice for SEO than it is for SEM, and SEO keyword building is a different practice than it once was.

The Democratic Side of Search

SEO refers to organic, unpaid search. Although there’s no money involved, organic search can drive traffic to a site and incite action and returns. Because SEO is organic, it is the democratic side of search. This description is not completely accurate though, because SEO is not all about keywords. SEO is also about link building, clout, and other factors. Search engines will rank a site higher if other highly ranked sites back-link to this site. Using the right keywords can only do so much. The organic search market is highly saturated, and search engines use many factors to rank and list search results.

There are ways around link and keyword building. Search engines often favor content from their own sites or associated sites. For example, Google favors Google+ results, and Yahoo! favors Yahoo! News results. These are not isolated instances. It’s also possible that SEM ads influence SEO results. For example, if an SEM ad drives a lot of traffic to a site, then that site will build views and thus may earn a higher search ranking. Because of these newly gained views, this site’s organic page will probably rank better in organic search results.

Tip of the White Hat

When some marketers figured out that search engines indexed and ranked pages according to views, links, and keywords, they used this knowledge unethically to drive traffic to their sites. Search engines have put a lot of effort into ending these so-called “black hat” marketing techniques, and search engines have been successful in thwarting these techniques. Using black hat techniques nowadays does more harm than good.

Black hat marketing techniques like keyword stuffing and doorway pages—or even techniques with close resemblances—can get your site downgraded in search results, delisted from search engines, or worse. Although SEO is the more democratic side of search engine marketing, it’s not without its flaws. Black hat marketers will search for new ways to beat the system, but it makes more sense to put in the work and build ethical content that will yield long-standing results.

Beware of Homographs

Pay attention to products that have the same name or spelling as your product. If there are companies or products with your name, your product could get lost in the teeming SEO masses. When they come upon pages for other brands, the confused searchers who were looking for your brand will have to do extra work to find you. If you can help it, avoid making your customers jump through hoops to find you.

Try to develop unique keywords that identify your company or product. When developing product names, keep SEO in mind by establishing unique and simple names. This rule will not only improve your SEO results, but will also make it easier for customers to remember your brand and product. And it’s always a good thing when it’s easy for customers to think of your brand.