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  10 Search engine myths    

Myth #1: Search engine. marketing equals search engine advertising.

One of the most widespread beliefs about search engine marketing is that search engine advertising equals search marketing. For example, if an online marketing firm runs advertising campaigns on Google and Yahoo!, the firm must specialize in search engine marketing.
Search engine marketing encompasses a wide variety of skills. The primary forms of search engine marketing include:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Search Engine Advertising
  • Web Directory Paid Inclusion
  • Search Engine Paid Inclusion
  • Vertical/Specialized Search Services (news, shopping, travel, etc.)
  • The reason this myth is so widespread? Search engine marketing has recently become a hot new ad agency service. Unfortunately, many of these ad agencies have little or no search engine optimization skills. Writing keyword rich text is a foreign concept to them. Writing more for Flash sites or sites with "pizzazz" than with search engine friendliness.

Myth #2: buying search engine advertising wilt improve your site's rankings in the main search results.

This myth is based on an erroneous cause-and- effect occurrence. When people launch a new website, they often purchase search engine advertising. After checking to see how their ad appears, they notice that their site URLs appear in the search results. "Wow," they think. "I bought ads and my website appears in the main search results." Correct assumption? No. Incorrect assumption. Purchasing Google AdWords will not make your site rank higher in the main search results. Purchasing Overture ads will not make your site rank higher in the Yahoo! results.

The main reason ads rank is payment. The main reasons a page ranks well in the main search results are:

  1. Keyword phrases: The Web page contains words and phrases that people type into search queries.
  2. Site architecture: The site designer has given search engine spider easy access to the words on the page via a spider-friendly navigation scheme, URL structure, and cross-linking.
  3. Link development: The number and quality of links pointing to a website (or page) are relevant. The quality of the link carries far more weight than the quantity of a link.

Even Google states, "Advertising with Google neither helps (nor hurts!) a site's rankings on Google"

Myth #3: You only need to optimize your home page.

Many Web design companies offer this sales pitch. If you cannot afford full site optimization, the next best thing is to optimize your home page only. Unfortunately, many Web design firms have limited knowledge of search engine optimization. The function of a home page is to act as a site's Table of Contents. All too often, a home page's content is not focused on targeted keyword phrases.

In addition, a home page does not close a sale. Very few site visitors will Add to Cart, Sign Up for Newsletter, or Enroll in Class from a site's home page. Which pages are the best pages to optimize on a website? Pages that are focused on targeted keyword phrases that are likely to convert visitors into buyers - these pages deliver qualified traffic to your site. The types of pages that tend to rank well and deliver sales are:

  • Product pages (for a B2C site)
  • Service pages (for a B2B site)
  • Category pages
  • Help pages (FAQs or frequently asked questions, customer service)
  • Media pages (press releases, testimonials, case studies)
  • Informational pages (articles, tips and tools)

Product, Service, and Category pages often contain focused content and are most likely to close a sale. Help, Media, and Informational pages can also deliver focused content. However, these pages guide visitors to more focused pages.
Of course, a home page should be optimized to the best of one's ability, but do not expect that a one page optimization strategy will deliver the same results as a site with fully optimized Product, Service, Category, Help, and Media pages.
Always optimize your most important Product and Service pages first. Home page optimization is a poor substitute for optimized Products and Services pages.

Myth #4: We Know the algorithm from (Google, yahoo, MSN Search, Teoma, etc.)

Whenever any search engine marketing specialist makes this statement, do not believe them. No one knows exactly how search engines rank pages. Search engine algorithms change all of the time. In addition, did they hire a search engine representative from the advertising department?

I have heard many ridiculous sales pitches from other  firms. Some companies claims to have Google's algorithm in a black box. And, to show they are completely serious, the company makes prospects sign a non-disclosure agreement before demonstrating their black box. Sounds impressive. Sounds serious. The company must have the inside scoop on Google, right? No. The company has a well-orchestrated, but false, sales pitch. No search engine marketing firm knows Google's algorithm. No search engine marketing firm knows Yahoo!'s algorithm.

If you encounter a company that gives you this elaborate sales pitch? Applaud their performance. Nominate them for an Oscar, Emmy or Tony award. But do not fall for the sales pitch.

Myth #5: Guaranteed search engine positions.

This search engine myth is partially true. Search engine advertisers can guarantee top ad positions because the client pays for it. In general, the person who pays the highest bid amount will show up highest in the advertising space.

With search engine optimization, however, no one can truly guarantee top positions. Only one group has control over what ranks and what doesn't - the search engines. Only one group has final control over what ranks and what doesn't: the search engines themselves. All of the major search engines have some sort of disclaimer stating they ultimately decide which web pages will be included in their indexes. Search engine marketers have no control over positioning.

Experienced, knowledgeable search engine specialists can demonstrate results from past performance but cannot guarantee future results. In that sense, Web page designer specialists are just like stockbrokers. No stockbroker knows how future markets will perform, and no search engine optimizer knows what future search engine algorithms will be.

Unfortunately, a large number of the web page design firms that offer guaranteed search engine positions are spammers. To achieve top positions, thousands, even millions, of doorway pages are submitted to search engines. If one such doorway page gets a top position, even if only for a few days, the web page design firm fulfilled its end of the contract. Understandably, many website owners like the comfort of a guarantee. They believe that a guarantee demonstrates the web page design company's confidence in their skills and expertise.
However, a guarantee is merely an attractive element of a sales pitch. The same guarantee that convinces you to sign a contract may very well result in spam practices that will get your site penalized or banned in the search engines.

Myth #6: Permanent search engine positions.

There is no such thing as permanent search engine positions. Positioning and traffic fluctuations are perfectly normal. New pages with unique content are added to the Web all the time. Old pages are deleted or updated. How Web pages and sites link to each other also changes. Because of these changes, search engine databases change and constantly evolve. Therefore, positioning will always fluctuate.

Prospects who require permanent search engine positions have unrealistic expectations. A more realistic expectation is to receive a regular percentage of website traffic from the search engines. For example, a properly optimized site will receive at least 10-20 percent (or more) of online traffic from the search engines.

Myth #7: Top search engine positions equal top sales.

The sales process is not a one step process. Not only should your website receive qualified traffic from a variety of resources (search engines, public relations, advertising, etc.), it should also:

1. Deliver useful information and value to site visitors, and
2. Compel them to take a desired action.
For example, if you have an eCommerce site, the desired call-to-action might be Add to Cart. If your website offers online courses, the desired call to action might be Register for Class.
Many sites achieve top search engine positions and no sales. Many sites do not have Top 10 positioning and get millions of dollars in sales. Instead of being overzealous about maintaining positions, online marketers should spend more time on analyzing visitor behavior and sales conversions. If designers, developers and search marketers would focus more on delivering keyword-rich content, they might find their sites can easily generate targeted search engine traffic and convert visitors into buyers within a single site.

Myth #8: We submit your site to 10,000 (or more) search engines.

The majority of websites receive qualified traffic from 10-20 major search engines, Web directories, and industry-specific sites. Submission software claiming to submit your site to 10,000 search engines will get you listed in many FFA (free-for-all) link farms.

A FFA link farm is a collection of Web pages that contains indiscriminate, often unrelated, links to other Web pages. For example, a site that sells golf balls has nothing in common with a mortgage or gambling site. FFA link farms are used to artificially boost link popularity and are considered spam by all the major search engines. "Spam penalties include demotion and removal from Google's index," said a software engineer at Google. In addition, many search engine marketers will not tell you that a single search engine supplies results to other websites. For example, Google currently supplies search results to America Online (AOL), yet many  experts consider a ranking in Google to be completely different from a ranking in AOL Search.

Myth #9: We can et your site instant link Popularity.
Anyone who promises link popularity right off the bat is spamming search engines. In all likelihood, the firms that promise instantaneous results build link farms to artificially inflate link popularity. Quite often, these firms rely on expired domains on Yahoo! and Open Directory. Many of the link farm sites aren't even in the same industry. Why would a real estate site link to a site that sells baseball bats?

The results people see from link farms are generally short-lived. Search engine software engineers discover the link farms and promptly remove all of their sites from the search engine database. Though no one can control which websites link to your site, site owners have complete control over which sites they link to. If a site links to another site that is considered a "bad neighborhood," such as free-for all (FFA) link farms, the site can be penalized.

Myth #10: Meta tags are the secret ingredient" to getting top search engine Positions.

This is another search engine myth that refuses to go away. A few years ago, a spam technique called "keyword stacking" or "keyword stuffing" became popular because people did not want to change their visible Web page content in order to rank well in the search engines. Keyword stacking in meta tags became so common that the search engines gradually downgraded their importance over the years.

The title tag is much more important than meta tags because all of the major search engines use title tag content to determine relevancy. Very few search engines use meta tag content to determine relevancy. Even if a search engine (such as Yahoo!) uses meta tag content, the content is nowhere near as important as the HTML title tag and main content.


To determine whether or not a search engine optimization technique can be considered spam, Google software engineer Matt Cutts gave some of the following search engine optimization tips:

  1. Does your web page's content help end users? "Tricking end users to get to your useful content does not count," said Cutts.
  2. Would you perform on optimization strategy if the search engines did not exist?
  3. Are your pages automated? If so, Google does not want them in their indices.

Website owners should focus their efforts on creating sites with unique content and getting other quality sites to link to them instead of trying to spam the search engines.

Search Engine Guidelines

When in doubt, always follow the terms and guidelines set forth by the search engines. And Call WCI for all your Marketing needs 413-1815

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