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Search Engine Optimization…
If It Sounds Too Good To Be True – It probably Is

December 2006 Communication

As e-marketers strive to make it to the top of the search engine optimization heap beware of the fraudsters and charlatans who might promise you the world and end up putting you on a blacklist.

According to Mark Hochhaus, McCleary, WA-based co-owner of Technet Internet Marketing, “The old adage, ‘If it sounds too good to be true,’ applies to SEO (search engine optimization). There are many companies that will promise top results using less than ethical methods including slick salesmen that will convince you that all the top sites cheat the search engines to stay on top….

“Don’t be fooled by such hype,” Hochhaus continues. “These are short term solutions that can lead to a permanent ban in the top engines. Once you are banned in Google, Yahoo, MSB or ASK, you may as well dump your site and start over. If you are looking for long-term success on the Internet, don’t cheat the search engines.”

Bill Stocking, CEO of Chicago Website Design, provides a list of “gottya’s, things you shouldn’t do while attempting to boost your search engine ranking, on his firm’s Website, www.websiterevamp.org:

Keyword stuffing – this is repeating a keyword phrase too many times in the body of your copy, in the html title for the page, etc. 2% to 4% of your copy is the range of keyword density you should aim for.

Hidden links or text – years ago, some webmasters would put lots of white text on a white background, (could be green text on a green background … you get the idea.) Site visitors wouldn’t see this keyword loaded text but search engines would index it. They caught on to this years ago.

Doorway pages – automatically generated or otherwise. A technically sophisticated ploy that still works sometimes … if you don’t get caught. Doorway pages comes in a number of variations. Some are easy to spot because they are computer-generated pages of nonsensical gibberish. Some are more difficult to spot and are highly attractive and blend into the Website. They will have complete sentences, paragraphs and even calls to action. The problem is that these doorway pages or sometimes called “mirror sites,” which are geared to re-direct traffic to your site, are considered “spam” by the search engines.

Cloaking and false redirects – Also known as “stealth,” delivers one page to the search engine for indexing while serving an entirely different page to everyone else. The search engine falsely believes it is selecting a prime match to its request. This can put another highly ranked site within the frames of your site.

Pages loaded with irrelevant words – “Britney Spears” may be very popular and if embedded into your site will draw the search engine spiders. But, what does she have to do with the auto parts business?

Duplicated content on numerous pages – This is sometimes done on a duplicate Web site. It’s another ploy to steer search engine traffic without providing any benefit to the visitor.

Unrelated and centralized link farms – a link from Joe’s Pizza Parlor to your auto parts Website doesn’t make much sense does it? Getting a link from a site that is mostly links to other sites ( a “link farm”), won’t endear you with Google or anyone else.

“You might get short-term results with these techniques,” writes Stocking, “But it’s very likely your site will be banned from search engines if you do. You’ll put your Web business in severe risk if you use one of these methods. Just don’t do it!”

Hochhaus adds: “If you’re planning to be around for the long haul and you want some success on the Internet, you need to be ethical in your promotion. Unless you have daily time dedicated to studying search engine optimizations (SEO) and making the needed changes, you should contract with a reputable SEO company. You need a company that studies the SEO industry on a daily basis to keep on top of what it takes to rank at the top for the long run. A company that is above cheats and quick fixes.”



About the author

James T. Berger, Managing Editor of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit www.jamesberger.net or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.

James T. Berger
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