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Revised:  03/07/2012

 

 

FAQS and Myths About Search Engine Optimization

Because of the relative secrecy of what is inside the "black boxes" that hold the search properties' ranking criteria, there exist many fallacies about search engine optimization. These fallacies range from the ridiculous to the not-so-far-off-base. In an effort to dispel fallacies and half-truths about search engine optimization, we've collected some of the more common questions and misconceptions and answered  them with what we know to be true from our first hand experience.

 

Can buy your way to top visibility (rankings) and traffic for your site?

Someone told me that Search engine optimization needs to be done only once, and the     results will last.  Is that true?
Are there easy website optimization methods for gaining long-term visibility in search engines and directories?
Does submitting a website to search engines constitute search engine optimization?

Can't we do in-house search engine optimization and have results comparable to that of a search engine optimization firm?
What's the difference between Search Engines and Directories?

Do you really need to monitor your website and rankings on a continual basis?

My site uses "Frames".  Is this a problem?

Our site requires users to accept "cookies"  is this a problem?
I don't know if we targeted the right keywords, can Rainmaker help?

What is a pay-for-placement or pay-per-click program?

What is a pay-for-inclusion program?
How do pay-for-placement programs differ from search engine optimization?

 


Can buy your way to top visibility (rankings) and traffic for your site?

No,  In general, results of pay-for-placement programs are short-term in nature. While many companies see pay-for-placement programs as an easy way to the top, the moment that the company's budget for such a campaign expires, their associated visibility and rankings disappear. The only way to increase your visibility in these programs is to buy more listings or spend more money.

Someone told me that Search engine optimization needs to be done only once, and the results will last.  Is that true?

No.  We live in a dynamic environment. There are constant changes within the search engine industry, shifts in our clients' audiences and business goals, and constant website changes. Search properties' market shares rise and fall. They also disappear entirely. People are becoming more search-savvy. A few years ago, most searches were one-word searches, but now, most people will search with a three- to four-word query. Because of these and other changes, search engine optimization always involves aiming at a moving target, and therefore, must be an ongoing process rather than a finite project.

Are there easy website optimization methods for gaining long-term visibility in search engines and directories?

True and False  There are tools that make the task of search engine optimization easier. Rainmaker Partners is all in favor of automating whatever can be automated. We have a well-stocked arsenal of  technology at our disposal for such purposes. But for a variety of reasons, many tasks that cannot be appropriately handled with these tools alone. Effective search engine optimization must employ skills and experience that machines will never have, including industry-specific experiential wisdom, knowledge of behavioral psychology, marketing savvy and quick adaptability.

Paid rankings should be thought of as a media buy and not as search engine optimization. They can be used to supplement a search engine optimization campaign, but should not be regarded as a cost-effective substitute.

Does submitting a website to search engines constitute search engine optimization?

Absolutely not!  Merely submitting your site is a small part of the larger process of search engine optimization. search engine optimization encompasses site design and layout, scientific research, determination of the best keyword phrases, monitoring rankings, algorithmic, and industry changes, and much more. There are hundreds of fly-by-night services that will offer to submit your website to thousands of search engines for a relatively small fee, but your only tangible results are likely to be email boxes clogged with spam.

Submitting to search properties is not enough - positioning is everything.

Can't we do in-house search engine optimization and have results comparable to that of a search engine optimization firm?

We never say never but....  Do you have an in-house search engine optimization research team?  An in-house technical team focused exclusively on search engine optimization?   If your exclusive business focus is not search engine optimization, you will likely be wasting your time and money. The Rainmaker Partner's Search Engine Optimization team has the experience and skills necessary for success in this increasingly complex and constantly changing arena.

What's the difference between Search Engines and Directories?
 
 One of the first things to understand when approaching natural search engine optimization in a strategic manner is the difference between search engines and directories.
 
 True search engines are, for the most part, entities that rely on automated software agents called spiders. These spiders grab information like page titles, meta data, and textual content to be included in the search engine's index or database. When serving search results to a user, the search engine's algorithm will determine whether to include a specific page in the results based on the items captured by the spider. Several years ago, the search property landscape was dominated by such spider-based search engines. Search engine optimization was an easier task then in some ways, because it was possible to gain prominent rankings just by using basic meta data in the HTML code. Unfortunately, those days are gone and these algorithms have become much more sophisticated.
 
 However, the search properties with the largest market share these days are directories or search engines that have a directory component. What distinguishes a directory from a search engine is the human element. Directories are organized by human editors who actually visit your site. They play a large role in the categorization of your site and the wording of the titles and descriptions that will be the basis by which searchers will (or will not) find your Web site.
 
 This new landscape requires a dramatically different approach to natural search engine optimization. No longer are word matching and strategic placement of keywords effective. Rainmaker Partner's is, hands-down, the most successful professional services firm in placing clients in the right categories with the right descriptions within these directory services.
 

Do you really need to monitor your website and rankings on a continual basis?


Absolutely, a website, when thinking in terms of effective natural search engine optimization, should always be thought of as a work in progress. Why? Because search engines are fickle. One week, they like a page on your site (how it is optimized) and rank it highly, but then two weeks later, they have a new favorite, and yours has fallen from grace. Do you simply hope that they will change their digital minds and start liking your page again? No.

A far more effective strategy is to change and adapt your page in response to what the new ranking criteria of the search engine appear to be. Rainmaker Partner's, in our search engine optimization endeavors, is in a constant process of monitoring the rankings of our clients' pages and recommending effective adjustments when the search engines alter their ranking criteria. We know that the best way to hit a moving target is to follow it carefully, shoot, and repeat as necessary.

My site uses "Frames".  Is this a problem?


Yes, your site may be virtually invisible to most spider-based search engines. Frames can be a good design strategy, but are best avoided if you wish to make the most of your search engine optimization efforts.

Our site requires users to accept "cookies"  is this a problem?

Cookies, once a source of controversy related to online privacy, have become a fact of life on most large-scale websites. But if your developers have written code that forces users to make a choice on whether or not to accept cookies, they are stopping search engine spiders in their tracks. Spiders can only follow links, and if confronted with a barrier such as a cookie, will abandon any further indexing of your site. Other such barriers to indexing and subsequent search engine visibility include secure site areas, broken links, password-protected areas and image maps.

I don't know if we targeted the right keywords, can Rainmaker help?

Many people involved in the marketing of a website are aware of the importance of including keyword phrases in their website. In fact, a majority of the world's largest companies with the most recognizable brands either fail to choose effective keyword targets or do not target any keyword phrases whatsoever. Others target irrelevant keywords that are, in essence, a bait-and-switch tactic. Search properties will penalize or even ban your website if you attempt to increase traffic by including keyword phrases that are irrelevant to the actual content of your website. Sure, lots of people are searching for "Britney Spears," but if your site is about pet food, there are no good reasons to include her in your list of keyword targets. One of the most important aspects of search engine optimization is scientific determination, selection and placement of the most relevant keywords with which potential customers are searching for your website and those of your competitors. However, effective search engine optimization greatly increases the chances that people will click on the listing of your site instead of your competitors'.

What is a pay-for-placement or pay-per-click program?


With a pay-for-placement program, you pay for your web page to have a prominent position on the search results page of a specific engine, and every visitor that clicks on your link and is brought to your site from that engine nets an incremental charge, payable by you to the engine. You are, in fact, paying for each individual visitor on a pay-per-click basis. The benefit of a pay-for-placement program is that your website is guaranteed to be found on the keyword or phrase that you purchase. Overture is a popular pay-for-placement service.

What is a pay-for-inclusion program?


A pay-for-inclusion program simply involves paying to get your web page listed within a search engine's database. It is important to know, pay-for-inclusion programs do not guarantee results - as they do not guarantee prominent rankings. You still need proper optimization of your web pages in order to achieve high rankings. By choosing a pay-for-inclusion program, you're paying for an opportunity to gain a top spot. But without a search engine optimization strategy, it's just a lottery ticket - a chance. You haven't done anything to improve your odds.

How do pay-for-placement programs differ from search engine optimization?


With search engine optimization, you're paying to increase your access to a universe of visitors across dozens, hundreds or even thousands of keywords and phrases - you don't pay for each individual click-through, and you certainly don't need to pay for every individual targeted keyword. In general, pay-for-placement programs provide short-term benefits because as soon as your budget expires, so does your visibility - when you stop paying, your listing disappears. Sure, your website is guaranteed top placement on the keywords and phrases that you purchase, but for as long as you're paying the bill. Furthermore, pay-for-placement programs remove the search engine's ranking algorithm from the criteria used to place high in the rankings. This creates a less valid listing because the relevancy of the listing is determined by a biased process and not an algorithm looking at the page on its own merit. Because the algorithm is not involved in determining the relevance of the page for the user's query, the user is frequently disappointed when they find the site does not contain the content they sought. Furthermore, there's no keyword science done to determine the optimum keywords to purchase (as there is in search engine optimization) - consequently, you could be paying for the entirely wrong audience or the wrong keywords or both.

While many businesses see pay-for-placement programs as an easy way to the top, a disadvantage of pay-for-placement programs is that the moment that company's budget expires and the company stops sending monthly checks, the engine replaces their ranking with someone else's site - very often a competitor. The only way to increase your visibility in these programs is to buy more listings for more keywords on more engines and spend more money. As such, paid rankings must be thought of, and treated, as just another media buy - like banners or magazine space ads or roadside billboards - and not as any sort of optimization which enhances the process by which prospects find your site.

By choosing to implement a search engine optimization strategy, again, you're paying to capture a universe of visitors, maximizing your existing web investments by increasing market reach and protecting your website from market shifts. Key search properties emerge and disappear on a recurring basis - they regularly change the algorithms and criteria used to rank websites. As a result, it is fundamental that you work with an experienced search engine marketing firm that is constantly monitoring these shifts and can immediately adjust your optimization accordingly. The fundamental difference is that by implementing a comprehensive search engine marketing campaign, your website's visibility lasts.

By employing the services of an experienced search engine marketing firm, you're paying for the knowledge, expertise and research capability that will ensure your products and services are placed directly in the path of your most qualified visitors and potential customers. A real SEM firm understands that this is about
marketing.

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  Organic vs. PPC Search Engine Optimization

 

"In this article, we will explore the strengths and weaknesses of both methods of search engine marketing.

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