The Truth About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You have a website and now you
want to be listed on the first page of a search. Or perhaps you have been called on by an
SEO company (let's call them ABC SEO), and they have promised you that they can get you listed on the first
page of Google. That is, you will be one of the TEN listings on the first page
returned by a Google search. GREAT!
performing SEO, the first
thing someone will ask you is which KEY WORDS do you want to
associate with your website. Okay, let's pretend you are a
moving company and you want to use the following key words
let's even assume you have cleaned up your site, updated it,
added the recommended meta tags and key words to your site's
body text. NOW your ready to be found on the first page of a
search in Google. ALL RIGHT!
In case you
did not know, there are other moving companies, not just in
your area, but also nationwide and worldwide. The chances
are pretty good that ABC SEO has called on some of these
other moving companies. Let's assume they have provided this
same service to 20 other moving companies. They also
promised these other companies they would come up first in
the search engine listings.
this be possible?
If ABC SEO
has optimized 21 moving companies websites so that each one
will be on the first page of a Google search, and there are
only 10 listings on that page, how can all 21 companies be
listed? IT'S NOT POSSIBLE.
is that there are literally thousands of SEO companies
making the same promises to tens of thousands of moving
companies around the world all looking for that first page
listing on Google and ALL of them using the same key words you
If it were possible for Vision Quest (or any
company) to simply 'tweak' a website so it would come up in the first page of
the major search engines, we would already have retired. Unfortunately,
regardless of all the claims made by companies selling Search Engine
Optimization, there is no holy grail to search engine ranking.
Let’s use a real world Vision
Quest client as an example.
Transfer, located in Gardena, California, has been a great client of
Vision Quest since 2001. Let’s do a Google search for ‘gardena moving company’.
On this day the Beverly Hills site came up number one out of 52,600 listings.
This may be a typical search for people living in Gardena but this would not
be the average search phrase for someone living outside of Gardena.
Click to view search results
Now let's do a search for
‘Beverly Hills transfer’. Again Beverly Hills came up number one of 907,000
listing. This should be the case because this is practically the domain name for
the website. However, once again this would not be a search phrase that the
typical user would use because they
probably would not know the name of the moving company. If they did, they would
not need to search for the company in Google.
Click to view search results
Let’s now use search words that the typical
searcher would use, ‘moving & storage’. No surprise here, out of the 31,200,000
listings, Beverly Hills was nowhere in the top 10 or 12 pages.
Click to view search results
This result is because in just the US, there are
an estimated 35,000 moving companies. However, the internet is not limited to
just the US, it is worldwide and there are hundreds of thousands moving
companies worldwide. The majority of US and international movers have websites and
all of them are using the same basic key words. (Moving, moving & storage,
storage, boxes, crating, packing, local moves, office moves, etc.) Beverly
Hills’ small site has very little chance of being found among the thousands of
huge sites related to moving and storage.
However, the news is not all bad.
The CMSA, another long-time Vision Quest
client, is listed on the first page of the search using the phrase 'moving &
storage'. The California Moving and Storage
Association (CMSA) is a non-profit trade association representing over 450
licensed and insured movers operating in California. Here is an example where
size on the internet matters. The main reason the CMSA website comes up so high
in the search listings for this generic search phrase is that the site has almost 1,300 linked pages, whereas
Beverly Hills Transfer’s site has about 20.
The good news for Beverly Hills
is that Beverly Hills is a member of the CMSA, as such,
they have a better than average chance of someone finding their website even
though their site is not listed on the Google search page. This is because
associations such as the CMSA provide credibility and a searcher is likely to
visit the CMSA to learn about quality companies. They will likely visit the CMSA
Mover Directory and now can find Beverly Hills. Also,
because Beverly Hills has a banner on the primary search page of the Member Directory,
they improve their chance of being found even more.
Click to view search results
Additionally, the inbound links to the Beverly
Hills' site from the CMSA, AMSA, FIDI, and the Chamber of Commerce websites
improve search listings for Beverly Hills because search bots follow links from
other sites. This makes being a member of industry organizations or chambers of
commerce worth the investment if they provide links from their sites to yours.
Also note that of the 20 or so
top van lines in the country none were listed higher than the CMSA. If the major van lines, with large marketing
budgets, hundreds of agents each, and hundreds of web pages on their sites,
cannot get listed higher than the CMSA, the chances that a small company being
listed on the first page of a search are very remote
The bottom line is that here is NO real way to influence the search
engines without spending lots money. Why?
Search Engine Companies do not reveal their
There are many "experts", claiming they know
exactly what search engines are looking for, but it's not true. There are some
some general guidelines one can follow, however, no one knows EXACTLY what search
engine criteria are. Only the software engineers who work for the search engines know their
search methods and they aren't telling.
Search engines never tell people exactly
what they are looking for when they try to match web sites to searches that
their users perform. And to make it even harder, they change what they look for
regularly. At any moment, they can change what they are looking for, and any
good results you are enjoying will vanish. It happens all the time.
Search engine companies are so secretive about
what they look for when selecting web sites for searches because they don’t want
anyone to be able to influence the results in their system. It compromises their
"editorial integrity". Every search engine has software engineers whose sole job
is to make sure that the results they show people are of high quality. They
don't want anyone "hijacking" their search engine using any tricks or inside
So how does anyone make their pages do well in
It takes countless hours of experimentation, comparisons,
testing, and retesting. There's nothing exact about it. It's all really educated
guesswork. And in the end, after doing all this work and coming up with a
successful strategy, success can and will be taken away when the search engines
change their selection criteria. You end up having to start all over, again and
again. One prominent company in this industry estimates that it takes about 30
hours per week for an individual to keep up with the search engines for one web
Even if the search engines did divulge
what they look for, in detail, then everyone would know it.
Everyone would quickly make the same changes to their websites and then
everyone would be back to search engine frustration.
There is no such thing as "Guaranteed Search
Engine Listing Results"
When you launch a new website you will
want to know how to get
your site listed at the top of a search engine. Because SEO companies know this,
you will get a flood of spam
(unsolicited) e-mails declaring "guaranteed search
engine results". The "guarantee" is supposed to give you enough confidence to
send them money.
We have already explained that the search engine
companies do not share their search methods. In addition, search engines change
their search algorithms on a frequent basis. Because of this, where your web
site appears listed on their system can change radically from one day to the
next or even one moment to the next.
Knowing this, how can anyone give a guarantee
with any real credibility?
Search engine companies do not have agreements with
any company providing them the actual methods they use. Since search engines
jealously guard their credibility, refusing to let outside sources have any real
influence or control over search results, the guarantees of search engine
optimizers must, in turn, have zero credibility.
Let’s look at a classic guarantee example:
"Guaranteed Top 10 Results or Your Money Back"
Make sure you read the fine print to find out:
Google, Yahoo, Excite, Dog Pile, Fred’s List,
Sally’s List? (There are literally hundreds of search engines on
Are these key words related to your industry or simply your
exact domain name? (It is almost a sure bet that if you put your
domain name in a search engine search, your website will be listed on the first
Let's assume that one day you go to Google, you
do a search for some variation of your key words, and there you are, in the top
10, just like they said. Hurray! The next day though, your site is not on the
first page, nor the next week, more the rest of the month. Want your money back? Sorry.
You did get a top 10 result, didn't you?
Enough about the negative side of
SEO. Let's talk about what you CAN DO to help your search