Five Common Myths About
Search Engine Optimization
Donald Nelson, copyright 2006
this scene, an adolescent boy walks into a barber shop and
says to the
barber, “Don’t touch me, I’m only here because my
mom forced me.” Search engine optimizers are sometimes put
into the position of the barber. They are knowledgeable and
willing to work on their client’s site, but the client doesn’t
want any modifications done to the text that is visible on her
web pages. This kind of dilemma occurs due to general
misconceptions about search engine optimization. Let’s look at
1. SEO only involves writing meta tags and working on
Many people want to get a high ranking for various keywords or
keyword phrases, but if you look at the text on their web
pages you can hardly find these vital words. They come to a
search engine optimizer and think that he or she will sprinkle
these words into the meta tags and it will work like magic.
This is a major misunderstanding.
It is true that your main keywords and key phrases should be
in your title tag and your description meta tag, and even in
the keywords meta tag, but they must also appear on the page
itself and they must appear in some strategic places on that
page. Some clients say, “But I like the way it looks now.” You
may like the way it looks, but the search engines will not
recognize that your page is truly about Electronic Widgets
unless these words appear in headlines on the page, in the
opening paragraph, in the file or domain name in link text and
in the body text of your page.
So, by all means if you already have copy that works, that can
convert visitors into buyers or otherwise accomplish the
purposes of your site, keep it. But you should also be ready
to listen to what the optimizer has to say about modifications
that will enable search engines to select your site when a
potential buyer makes a query for your key words or phrases.
2. Search Engine Optimization is Tricking the Search
Some clients say, “Don’t touch the visible copy but put in the
modifications invisibly.” Using invisible text is something
that can get you banned from a search engine. The main purpose
of search engine optimization is to give your website the best
possible chance to come up in good positions when someone
makes a query for your keywords or key phrases. The key to
doing this is to design web pages and write copy that is
intelligible to search engines, without sacrificing the
experience and understanding of your end-users, the people who
visit your site. So, don’t ask your SEO professional to try to
trick the search engines, but work with him or her to present
your website in the best possible way.
3. Search Engine Optimization deals mainly with onsite
Even if your website is well designed, has proper meta tags
and has keyword-rich text, this alone does not guarantee that
your site will rank high in competitive queries. All of these
factors, design, meta tags, and copy, are on-site factors.
Search engines certainly take them into consideration, but
they also value off-site factors such as how many high quality
or authoritative websites link to you. This means that
hand-in-hand with your on-site optimization you and your
promotion team will have to embark on a campaign to get links
to your websites coming from websites that are already highly
regarded by the search engines and by the public in general.
4. Search Engine Optimization works instantly
Don’t expect to get a flood of traffic right after your site
has been optimized. Some search engines work in a fairly rapid
manner, but the main search engine at the present moment,
Google, is believed to have deliberately put an aging delay
into its algorithm. This means that it may take several months
before your site makes it into the top results for your
particular category, especially if it is a newly created site.
During this initial period you will also have to consider
using other promotional methods such as pay per click
advertising, article marketing, joint ventures, paid
advertising in ezines and offline advertising.
5. Search Engine Optimization is Prohibitively Expensive
While it is true that very large organizations, ordering
services from the top SEO companies, can end up spending
thousands of dollars on their optimization campaigns, search
engine optimization can be the most inexpensive and
cost-effective option for web site promotion.
If you launch a modest pay per click campaign and pay five
cents per click and get 100 clicks per day, then your cost is
$5.00 per day or $1825 per year. If you learn how to optimize
your pages by yourself you may be able to get natural search
engine traffic without paying the pay per click fees. This is
in fact what many webmasters do. Or, if you opt for a modest
search engine optimization package from a professional you can
end up spending less than the pay per click fees.
So the next time you hear one of the myths about search engine
optimization don’t accept it blindly.
Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has
been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the
director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com),
a firm providing low cost search engine optimization,
submission and web promotion services.