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March 5, 2008

Are You Sabotaging Your SEO Success (Part 1)?

You probably are – and you don’t even know it. Before we get into that, let’s quickly recap what has happened up until this point. It is relevant, I promise.

As the internet grows larger daily, and the number of searches online increase – we see people getting fanatical about getting their sites ranked. And why not? It’s a great, constant source of traffic leading targeted visitors to your door!

If only getting the results was easier! I’m sure some of these statements will ring true for you.

  • SEO is simple but not easy.
  • SEO is time consuming and requires knowledge that only a small handful of business owners truly have, (since their real focus is and should be running their business) but is needed by everyone, not just a small handful.
  • SEO is maddening but EFFECTIVE and NECESSARY.

So, what do you do when you know you need SEO, but you also know it is sometimes frustrating, it’s time consuming and it’s not your area of expertise? The consensus seems to be that you have 2 options:

  1. Hire a professional SEO Firm. This frees up your time to run your business, and leaves it to the professionals who are equipped with the proper knowledge and time.
  2. Learn SEO yourself, either through a current and up-to-date manual or some consulting.

Both scenarios have pros and cons. Whether you do it yourself or you hire an SEO Firm, you need to be 100% sure that the big picture is taken into consideration, and that you aren’t unintentionally sabotaging your own efforts.

Let’s look at SEO through the years, not in chronological order — just by highlighting a few key events.

Doorway pages were the biggest thing online – everyone used them, and they worked! Until Google caught on that people were just trying to trick them, and they banned the pages. Mouths dropped open in shock, as sites sitting pretty at the top of the SERPs (search engine results page) dropped from sight.

Reciprocal links were all the rage. Emails flew across the internet. You link to me, and I’ll link to you. Everyone was fast becoming friends and creating an information network that was all interlinked. Fabulous!

Until Google caught on that this isn’t a true representation of how popular your site is, people are just creating link farms and mass-generating “faux link popularity”. More mass droppage of sites from the SERPs.

One-way links are definitely the way to go. It’s exactly what Google wants, and if we simply buy a link from another website, Google will see it as a viable one-way link to my site. Who says you can’t buy love. I’ve got Google lovin’ me.

Until Google realizes there are sites with high PageRank out there, making a nice new monthly income for linking to sites that have not earned a link – and therefore the faux link popularity issue is just perpetuated.

With all of the link confusion, it is a constant source for debate: reciprocal is OK, as long as it is relevant and from a high PR site. One way is the only way to go, but only if it is relevant and from a high PR site. What is high PR anyway, is it anything above 3 or 4 or 5?

With all the questions flying, attention seemed to go back to a new and improved type of doorway page. One that includes links to other sites (resources) underneath text for your site.

This is truly great – this technique is actually legit, you are providing a real value to people by having helpful links on your site, and the search engines just happen to view those links with text as keyword rich, so they boost your rankings.

A very legitimate tactic, it made sense to the engines, and it was fairly easy to do. Great – we’ve finally found a way to create some great pages that Google seems to like. Everyone is sitting pretty now.

Until Google sees the internet infiltrated with sites that are nothing but mass-produced pages with no customization. Resource pages spit out by software, with no real content to support it. That ended the “resource page hay day”.

Blogs are “it”. Everyone can create a free blog, and then blog and ping like crazy. It drives the spiders to your blog when you ping, they follow links in your posts to your main site, and next thing you know you can control Googlebot, and Yahoo Slurp. With a few good posts, you can plan on the bots swinging by to pick up more pages in your site. Cool, things are happening now! Until Google realizes people have programs doing auto-posts and auto-pings and it’s not the most relevant or original content. Google wises up, and for those still trying to get away with automated blogging and pinging, you’re wasting your time.

The link debates rage on; content is still king; and people want rankings more than ever. What’s next?

1. RSS Feed – for a long time no one knew what it stood for, but they all love it. You can create content and send it out to the world to read with their preferred viewer. That truly is an opportunity to get your message out there!

You can also pull feeds into your site to bulk up content. Amazing. What an opportunity.

2. Enter the Press Release and Article Syndication. Brand spanking new and dressed to impress. It was fabulous – write informative articles and submit them around the internet – the benefit is two-fold – each article will drive traffic to your site, and the links within the article will count as links for your site!

The Press Release was killer too. Write an informative, keyword rich press release and get it sent out to thousands of media outlets online. You could count on about 30 days worth of traffic enjoyment from one release. Not to mentioned, press releases get picked up in the News engines and the regular engines too.

Great – so what’s the problem?

Too many people don’t look at the big picture, and the actual reason behind algorithm shifts. People don’t learn from them, they simply adjust their methods and move on until the next algo shift.

If you really look at the trends, and realize what Google wants and why they do what they do, I think you’ll find a very common theme.

Google wants to deliver relevant results to people. They have no hidden agenda. They simply want to deliver the best and most relevant results in response to someone’s search query.

That alone tells us all we need to know. In order to get good rankings, we need a popular site with great, informative content that is current.

Any current hot technique is only a fad. We make sure of that. What do I mean by that? Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Are You Sabotaging Your SEO Success?”

Author:  Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing and co-owner of Since 1998, her expertise in online marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue and achieve their business goals. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on Search Engine Optimization and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications.