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Search Engine Optimization - Fact VS Fiction

By Patricia Dollar
Posted Monday, September 20, 2004

If you are like me, you receive a daily onslaught of email and invariably you will receive such email from "so-called Search Engine Optimization services", making claims to "guarantee" you top placement in some or even all of the major SE's.

Information taken from Google's SEO guidelines:

Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of the blue. Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories..."
Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for "burn fat at night" diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.
Read the entire text at: (

What they neglect to mention is that their guarantee is valid for some obscure term that would most likely never be used.

For example, let's say that your company creates custom jewelry. You use both precious and semi-precious stones, and you are located in Birmingham, AL.

You would hope to be found when someone does a search for "custom jewelry" or perhaps "jewelry semi-precious" or even "jewelers Birmingham". But after 3 to 6 months of paying sometimes exorbitant fees, a search using these terms sends you clicking through 20 or more pages of listings in Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL or any other Search Engine or Directory.

You are upset and rightfully so! What now?

You call or email the SEO and request a refund based on their Guarantee.

Here is a likely response:

"Dear Sir/Madam, Xyz co., Inc., has fulfilled our obligation to your company and your site can be found on page 1, listing #1 in Google, Yahoo, and AOL for the following search terms:

"Custom jewelry with precious and semi-precious stones - Birmingham"
"Semi-precious stone custom jewelry - Birmingham, AL"

We therefore are under no obligation to grant a refund.

Another tactic is "bulk submission software". Here is what DMOZ has to say:

"Auto-submission software is (and always has been) a violation of this procedure. Sites submitted automatically are flagged and deleted after the submission is accepted, without notification to you. Persistent automatic submission may force us to ban you from the dmoz site, so we can provide resources to real human beings." This text can be found at: (

And who obtains information from dmoz? Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN etc.

Search Engine Optimization is much more than throwing a few keywords into your meta tags. It involves a lot of effort and you cannot expect immediate results. The following is what should be done at a minimum to insure that you are found in the major search engines and directories:

It involves researching your industry and locating the current top ten competing sites, then analyzing those sites for a number of items:

Keyword density in the title of their page(s).
Keyword placement (order) in their meta tags.
The frequency of searches done on major search engines daily for the major terms used in your industry.
Keyword density on the face of their document compared to the keywords in their Meta tags.

It further involves:

Creating your Meta tags, text and text location on your pages for top placement - getting you ahead of the competition.
Hand submitting your site to search engines.

In conclusion, choose your SEO wisely. Begin by doing a search in Google, Yahoo or your favorite search engine using the search term "website optimization". Contact the firms you find in the top ten. After all, if they can't get their own firm listed in the top ten, how much hope do you think you have?

Next, see if they reference sites that they have optimized. Are the search terms something that would readily be searched or something that you doubt would be used often or at all?

Get a clear understanding of their fees and what they intend to do for you. What guarantees if any do they offer?

There are billions of web pages on the Internet with thousands more being added on a daily basis. In order for your Internet business to be successful, you need to be found. Choose your SEO and your marketing strategies carefully!

Pat Dollar - To learn more about search engine optimization and website design visit (

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