SEO has a very negative reputation that is primarily driven by bad operators who send spam messages and write worthless articles. In fact it is so bad that some have attempted to rebrand SEO under the name inbound marketers.

Despite the negative press, SEO is a highly legitimate practice that can help make the Web a better place when used to present great content in a way that is easy for search engines to read and understand. SEO involves researching what keywords people are using to look for you and using those keywords wisely on your site so search engines can include your site in results when it is highly relevant for a searcher. If you opened a physical store, you would want to put up signs to communicate what you offer so people could find you when they need what you provide. Without implementing SEO on your website it is like having a physical store in an empty field with no signs and the lights turned off.

In fact Google produces resources to help webmasters to better optimize their sites for search engines and both Google and Bing have teams that work on SEO for their own websites. Google also has clear guidelines on what practices can help your site rank better and what can lead to penalties or removal (Google Webmaster Guidelines). Google and Bing want to get rid of spam sites, so if you are trying to promote low quality content with shady link acquisition tactics it hurts the Web and you will eventually lose.

Often what is good for users is rewarded by search engines so effective SEO involves creating highly useful content and building links within the rules and using common sense. Like most things SEO can be taken to far and that is often when SEO is no longer marketing but becomes spam. Spamming should be avoided at all costs if you plan to be in business for the long-term.