Six Myths About Search Engine Optimization - dummies

By Peter Kent

A lot of confusion exists in the search engine world — a lot of myths. Here are a few of the commonly believed myths that can hurt your search engine positions.

It’s all about meta tags and submissions

This is the most pervasive and harmful myth of all, held by many web designers and developers. All you need, many believe, is to code your pages with the right meta tags — KEYWORDS and DESCRIPTION, and things like REVISIT-AFTER and CLASSIFICATION — and then submit your site to the search engines.

This approach is completely wrong for various reasons. Most meta tags aren’t particularly important, if they’re even used by search engines at all. Without keywords in the page content, search engines won’t index what you need them to index. Submitting to search engines doesn’t mean they’ll index your pages. Moreover, what about links?

Web designers and developers understand search engines

Most developers and designers do not understand search engines to any great degree. Most web-development companies these days tell their clients that they know how to handle search engines, and even that they’re experts.

In most cases, that’s simply not true. This makes it very hard for business owners when they hire a web development team, of course.

Many Web developers don’t enjoy working with search marketing experts. They think that all search engine experts want is to make the site ugly or remove the dynamism. This is furthest from the truth, and a web developer who refuses to work with an SEO expert may just be worried for his or her job.

Multiple submissions improve your search position

This is perhaps one of the biggest scams in the SEO world; the “submission” service, a promise to “submit” your website to hundreds, nay, thousands of search engines.

As far as the major search engines go, multiple submissions, even automated submissions, don’t help. Submitting to search engines — requesting that they index your pages — often doesn’t get your page indexed anyway. Far more important is a link campaign to get plenty of links to your site. And you should definitely be working with XML sitemaps.

Some of these multiple-submission services don’t even submit where they claim to submit; you sometimes find out-of-business search engines included in the “here’s where we submit your site to” lists for some of these services.

$25 can get your site a #1 position

You hear a lot of background noise in the search engine business from companies claiming to be able to get your site into thousands of search engines and rank your site well for $25 a month. . . . Or a $50 flat fee . . . or $75 a month . . . or whatever.

The truth is that it’s more complicated than that, and those who have used such services are often very disappointed. They often don’t get into the major search engines at all, and even if they get included in the index, they don’t rank well.

Search engine ranking is sometimes very easy — but other times it’s complicated, time consuming, and tedious. Most of the offers streaming into your Inbox in spam e-mail messages or displayed in banner ads on the web aren’t going to work.

Google partners get you #1 positions

If you receive a spam e-mail telling you that the sender has a “special arrangement” with Google and can get you a #1 position within hours or days, delete it; it’s nonsense — a scam. It’s true that you can buy a top position on Google through its AdWords PPC (Pay Per Click) program, though you’ll be bidding against your competitors.

However, this scam refers to something different — to Google’s having a special program that allows certain privileged companies to sell top positions in the organic-search results.

Don’t believe it; it’s nonsense.

Pay Per Click is where it’s at

Pay Per Click (PPC; the small “sponsored” ads you see at the top of the search-results pages) can be a very important part of a website’s marketing strategy. It’s reliable, predictable, and relatively easy to work with. But it’s not the only thing you should be doing.

In fact, many companies cannot use PPC because the clicks are too expensive for their particular business model (and click prices are likely to keep rising as search marketing continues to be the hot Internet marketing topic).

The growth in PPC has been partly caused by the lack of search engine optimization knowledge. Companies build a site without thinking about search engines and then don’t hire professional expertise to help them get search engine traffic, so they fall back on PPC.

Many companies are now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on PPC each month; they could complement their PPC campaigns with natural search engine traffic for a small fraction of that cost.

The wonderful thing about PPC advertising and SEO is that the two work hand in hand. If you want to know whether a word is important enough to optimize, get a hundred clicks from your favorite search engine through PPC and look at the conversion rates and the return on investment (ROI).

Want to expand your PPC keyword list? No problem; look at the words that people are already using to find you as a baseline and grow your list from these words. (For example, if they are using rodent racing to find you, buy ads triggered by the words mouse rodent racing, rat rodent racing, and so on.)

Many companies are using PPC profitably; just don’t assume it’s the only way to go. Many companies actually use PPC and SEO in combination.