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Myths About Natural 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 myths about search engine optimization. These myths range from the ridiculous to the not-so-far-off-base. In an effort to dispel myths and half-truths about search engine optimization, we've assembled a collection of some of the more common misconceptions and countered them with what we know to be true from our extensive collective experience.

MYTH: Search engine optimization needs to be done only once, and the results will last.

FACT: 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 Web site 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.

MYTH: There are easy Web site optimization methods for gaining long-term visibility in search engines and directories.

FACT: There are tools that make the task of search engine optimization easier. We are all in favor of automating whatever can be automated. We have a well-stocked arsenal of proprietary technology at our disposal for such purposes. But for a variety of reasons, there remain 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.

MYTH: You can buy your way to top visibility (rankings) and traffic for your site.

FACT: 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.

As such, paid rankings must 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.

MYTH: Submitting a Web site to search engines is search engine optimization.

FACT: 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 Web site 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.

MYTH: You can do in-house search engine optimization and the results will be comparable to that of a search engine optimization professional services firm.

FACT: Do you have an in-house search engine optimization research team? An in-house technical team focused exclusively on search engine optimization? Expert account managers dedicated solely to the optimization and monitoring of your Web site? If your exclusive business focus is not search engine optimization, you will likely be wasting your time and money. The search, development, and account management teams have the experience and skills necessary for success in this increasingly competitive and constantly changing arena.