More SEO Myths

By Dave McAnally, Natural Search Supervisor

We’ve had a couple instances in the past couple weeks that got me to thinking about how firms frame their SEO offerings. We stress internally how important it is to be clear on our capabilities, methodologies and intentions with our clients. There are the obvious things, such as making sure our clients understand the money spent on paid search doesn’t influence natural rankings, and does not guarantee rankings (some of which I’ve pointed out before). Some rhetoric I’ve heard in the search community lately inspired me to revisit this subject.

Someone claims to have ‘inside knowledge’ about a site Google is going to penalize or ban – Google has been pretty clear on their views about people who claim to have inside information. Furthermore, they let you know if your site is doing something they don’t like. But anytime somebody is saying they have any ‘inside knowledge’ on something related to any particular view Google may have on a specific website, red flags should shoot up.

Talk of ‘submitting to hundreds of search engine directories’ as a link strategy–It’s weird how I still hear this in 2008. Site suggestion and inclusion in key directories is one thing, but substituting that for actual linking strategies is entirely something else. Google especially has come to weigh links from directories very differently than they had in the past. Besides, most white hat linking strategies involve getting your content in front of the RIGHT PEOPLE in addition to engines. This is pretty futile if you’re focus revolves around directories compared to actual authoritative websites in a given space.

Services that don’t measure results in terms of business goals – Sure you may rank on a query, but does it drive traffic? Does it drive the RIGHT traffic? Granted, there are some queries that sites just won’t be able to generate a first page ranking for simply because the competition is too high. But that certainly shouldn’t exclude anybody from the top of the funnel (if that is indeed the target). SEO efforts should be measured in how effective they are in meeting your business goals, as well as whether or not the site generates traction in search results.

SEO Service providers that charge per click – Yes they exist. This never made sense to me on a number of levels. First, unlike paid search, we can’t pinpoint for certain what effort did (or didn’t) cause a given term to rank. SEO is a sum of its parts, whereas with paid we know exactly why we show up for a term (we’re bidding on it). Second, this is impossible to manage scope-wise. What happens when the engagement is over? It’s not like the rankings will disappear in one fell swoop. I can’t say for certain, but I’d be willing to bet most of these services are really using Yahoo Search Submit or some other paid equivalent and passing it off as SEO.

SEO Providers that claim to ‘get you results’ without changing your site – What are we doing then? Perhaps this should be rebranded as Digital PR or something because that’s not SEO (as most of the industry would define it). A holistic optimization project WILL require things to be done to a website. Theoretically, this should take place with minimal impact on your business goals or branding. Ultimately however, your website, and the ability for spiders to crawl it is an essential component to consider.


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