Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fargo SEO: Search Engine Optimization

Four Myths of SEO

Ready to tame search engine spiders? The first task is to find out what doesn't work:

Myth #1: Brute force will get the job done.Nope. This isn't 1999. Just repeating a bunch of hidden keywords on your page or in your meta tags no longer fools any major search engine. The algorithms that propel search engine software have gotten far, far more sophisticated, and pulling cheap shenanigans is more likely to hurt your position than help it. (Yes, you read that right. Multiple repeating keywords can actually lower your score, the way owning 16 credit cards can depress your credit rating.)

Myth #2: Traffic is everything. Many people believe that search engines measure popularity by the number of clickthroughs, and so they "click themselves" repeatedly in order to boost their position in the pecking order. They're wasting their time. Spiders and 'bots don't care about traffic.

Myth #3: "I can buy a cheap and easy solution from those nice (and numerous) people who sent me an e-mail out of the blue." Oy. Forget it. Don't fall for one of those phony-baloney "We'll submit your URL to all major search engines" spammers. It's a ripoff—you're paying good money for a clerical job. Even if you did it yourself, you run the very real risk of getting positioned far lower. It's a little like membership at Augusta National ... if you say you want it, you're disqualified. Key search engines regard repetitive submissions as a sign of desperation. (Robots smell fear.)

Myth #4: "But a Search Engine Optimization service guaranteed that they'd get me a top 10 spot on Google!" And would you like some North Dakota real estate, too? Guaranteeing "top position" is a sure sign that you're dealing with a snake-oil salesman (well, besides his business card from "Billy and Earl's No-Frills SEO and 24-Hour Home Construction"). The scam goes like this: they guarantee top position ... but they pick the search term, which is so specific to you that only your mom would be likely to use it. Sure, you'd own a (very very narrow) category, but that's like being, as they say, the tallest building in Fargo.

Smarter Spiders

SEO is a more technically complex field than it's ever been. The shortcuts to great search-engine positions have long since been spotted and crushed underfoot by the search-engine companies themselves. (It's not nice to fool Mother Google.) Rising high has a lot to do with

... how you write the HTML code to satisfy the spiders who crawl your site looking for content.

... how well you avoid the "trip wires" that send spiders away.

... where on the page certain keywords appear.

... how you use JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets.

... where your formatting instructions occur in relation to your text. If you depend on a wysiwyg code-writing program (Front Page, GoLive, etc., software we used to use in the good ol' days of 2003) you almost certainly will get a much lower score from the 'bots. Sorry.

Thank goodness we have a team of people in place who monitor the battlefield day and night. Search Engine Optimization is not something you can take an hour out one time to work on and then forget. To make matters even more complex, all major search engines change their algorithms from time to time. Eternal vigilance is the price of high Googleosity.

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1 comment:

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