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The Ugly Truth about Search Engines

By John Calder
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2004

Do you want more search engine traffic? Are you having trouble getting it? You’re not alone. You could have the most highly optimized web site possible and still fail to achieve a top ten, or for that matter, even a top 20 ranking in an engine like Google.


It’s quite simple: content rules over keywords. Think for a minute about the sheer number of web pages out there today.

Here is the number of pages Google claims to index currently:4,285,199,774. For the math challenged, that’s Four billion-two-hundred-eighty-five-million-one-hundred-ninety-nine-thousand-seven-hundred-and-seventy-four!

Now, while it’s still generally a good idea to at least optimize your keywords to stand out from that crowd, it’s not sufficient. Let’s say that 52% of all those pages were designed by a professional search engine consultant. Each one is set up perfectly to feed the engine what it wants. Who gets to the top then? Newsflash: It WILL NOT be the site that only has a couple of pages of information.

The top ranking sites in that scenario are the ones with hundreds of pages of content. In other words, if this was your site, you would have a theme and build on that theme with articles and other tidbits. I know of one marketer who doesn’t optimize his pages at all, but he has vast amounts of information on his website and the search engines LOVE it. He gets all the traffic he needs. It seems counter-intuitive at first until you remember that search engines care much more about quality and content than they do about keywords and meta tags. The plain fact of the matter is: the more pages you have on your site, the more important your site looks to the search engine.

This may at first sound disheartening to some of you. What happens to the person with a one page sales site? How much work do you have to do to build a site that gets free traffic? Fear not! There’s actually some very good news in all of this.

Working from our premise that search engine traffic often comes down to dumb luck, we can clear away every conflicting piece of advice about traffic generation and boil the process down to 2 steps:

1. Small website: Invest your time in building relationships with your target market. This means finding ezine and web site owners to promote, review and otherwise link to your product. Send out press releases. Advertise in your local newspaper. It also means saving that $30 you might have spent on another hyped up ebook and investing it instead on some pay-per-click traffic and advertising.

2. Large website: If you want free traffic, then you’ll need: a topic you love, a large amount of content (in the form of articles you write or articles you reprint from other sources), and a daily action plan. You can still use all of the methods outlined for small websites, but the key will be adding content each and every day. Even one article a day will make a difference.

Conclusion: Don’t waste any more energy looking for that magic bullet. Invest your time and your money wisely. Those two currencies are your key to success.

About the Author
John Calder


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