How (not) to understand Search Engine Marketing

August 21, 2006

Topics: Search Marketing.

Well, first, read a particular August 20th article supposedly on search engine optimization.

Done?

Well, I hope that in your reading, you managed to ignore a good chunk of what was said. Although in principle the article was positive about the importance of search engine marketing, it does manage to completely miss the point. Take statements such as:

If you sell widgets, for example, you are going to need plenty of content with the word ‘widgets’ in it, said Murray.

Well, there’s SOME truth to this. If you sell widgets, you better mention widgets. But, taken literally, this statement is bound to encourage keyword stuffing of the first order.

Link popularity is also important. If there are lots of links to your site, the search engine will see your site as an authority, and that will push you up the rankings. The key is to submit your site to as many online directories as you can.

Oh, boy – let’s bring out those trucks of BS now! It’s hard to suffer through major publications which will publish something like this. Here comes a flood of people who will certainly hire Internet Advancement to do their optimization.

The article continues, paragraph after paragraph, providing incorrect or misleading information. Amongst these:

  • Suggests using Google’s "link:" command to identify competitors inbound links.
  • Informs the unwary reader that having "a blog with links back to your site" will push you up the ratings.
  • Amongst simple steps to get ahead, it suggests registering with all the big search engines.
  • "Use as many key words, including misspelt versions, as you think a potential customer is likely to put in the search box to find you."
  • "Use these key words as often as possible" (although it does warn against "mindless repetition")

In general, the grossly over-simplified perspective and occasionally mis-guided advice espoused in this article is of no benefit to the search marketing industry. It’s unfortunate that this kind of article is what commonly hits the mainstream media.

For more about this topic, read the commentary at Search Engine Roundtable or review the discussion at Search Engine Watch Forums. Also note that there are some better articles available in the media – in USA Today or the Wall Street Journal.

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