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10 Commandments of Search Engines

By Judith Kallos
Posted Friday, October 29, 2004

The Ten Commandments of Search Engines reveals the reality of what is necessary to maintain relevant listings.

Each of my clients receive my Internet Marketing for Success orientation when their site launches which in addition to many other important variables covers the reality of what to expect from Search Engines. When I do the initial submissions, I provide a very lengthy detailed explanation of the process and what to expect - as well as what not to expect. Included are issues that need to be addressed and considered moving forward. And, needless to say, these issues have evolved almost weekly for the past several years as Search Engines struggle to offer even more relevant results.

Since that time, I have done my best to review and update, test and provide, every possible insight and bit or byte of information critical to my client's Search Engine listings. This information is not my opinion, my take or just my viewpoint. This information is an accurate representation of the way the Search Engine environment operates. Like it or not, it is best dealt with than ignored or disregarded.

Just like anything else to do with your Web presence your listings have to be worked at - consistently to produce results. They don't just happen by osmosis or for perpetuity. So, don't shoot the messenger as they say!! ;-)

The Ten Commandments of Search Engines:

Thou shalt not expect that Search Engines will drive massive amounts of traffic to your site immediately based on the initial registration with free services upon the launch of your site. Listings take time to solidify. Although many engines state anticipated time frames (many also clearly offering no guarantees when or if) as to when your listing may be added to their database, many times it is much longer due to the massive volume of new submission submitted daily.

Thou shalt not expect that Search Engines will drive massive amounts of traffic to your site immediately after you pay for reviews. Ongoing tweaking of your site based on the competitiveness of your particular online market will then be required to get optimum visibility. Yes, even after paying for reviews you still have to keep working at this! There are no guarantees. If you are in a industry with little competition getting decent listings is much easier than one saturated by 100's or possibly 1000's of sites fighting for the same top listings.

Thou shall understand that if you don't track your listings and keep your site date "fresh" and current with technology, those competitors that do will be listed before you and your listings will begin to deteriorate. No way around this. Don't track and react, your site will drop in positioning.

Thou shall know that those companies that offer you "top of page" listings for $500+ dollars per month are simply signing you up for "Sponsored", "Paid" or "Featured Listings" that the Search Engines or PPC services offer. These listings are purchased and have nothing to do with your site or keywords. You can sign up for these services yourself and save hundreds or thousands of dollars by visiting the Search Engines and reviewing their programs.

Thou shall realize that some of the top scammers on the Net are those who promise unbelievable results with little effort, touting all that is stated in this article to not be necessary. Many using tactics that do not work or could even get your site banned. (Ever notice how many of those folks don't even have their own Web site or have only been around a short period of time? Hmmmmmmmm.....) As a matter of fact, Google has added a warning on their site about these "services": (http://www.google.com/webmasters/seo.html)

Thou shalt not sit back and think that without participating, networking and taking advantage of on and off-line opportunities to get exposure for your "dot com" that you will get traffic anyway. You won't!

Thou shall understand that this is not a "build it and they will come" environment. With literally billions of Web pages online how do you realistically think your potential customers will find you without ongoing reactive and proactive efforts? They won't!

Thou shalt not believe that by simply running around and resubmitting your old stale site, every day, every week, every moment will be all it takes. Believe this at your own peril! Some engines consider resubmitting, if not done within established guidelines, as spamming them and you will be dropped or worse yet banned. Software that automatically submits your site for you is ignored and can also identify you as a Search Engine Spammer causing your site to be removed and blocked entirely from future submission efforts. No way around doing the hard work!

Thou shall understand that only unwavering commitment and investment, which includes a rabid aggressive, proactive marketing campaign both on and off-line, including Search Engine/PPC monitoring, tracking and resubmission is necessary to have consistently relevant listings. Thou knows that even though they may not like the Ten Commandments of Search Engines, that in no way diminishes the reality of fact and truth in how Search Engines work and what you need to do as a site owner to insure consistent relevant listings over your competitors. IOW, if you don't work them, they won't work for you.

Many think listings should just happen. Or that by changing or adding some words here or there that all your target customers will be able to find you. There is nothing further from the truth. Look at your stats! See the traffic you are getting and from where. Let's run Search Engine reports on your targeted keyword phrases and compare them to your stats and make modifications and adjustments based on that data.

Search Engines change how they list sites all the time - and each will list your very same site differently. They have database problems where blocks of sites are dropped - for no reason. What happens if they change how they list sites or have system problems and you are not tracking your listings to notice the negative effect? What if your competitors are more involved and aggressive than you are? That is called lost opportunity!

Did you know that all but one of the crawlers for Search Engines and Directories completely IGNORE keyword tags? Why do so many folks think that by virtue of "wanting" to pull by certain keywords, or by shuffling or changing them that makes it so? They choose to believe their friends, or the latest junk mail or someone trying to sell them that cheap and easy solution that only benefits the respective salesperson's pocket book. See the Google URL above.

Here at The Istudio®, I work in the reality of what it takes to be successful - much to the frustration of some who would prefer listings just happen without cost or ongoing efforts. Whether folks like what has to be done, or are willing to follow through or not, should not be my concern. My concern and responsibility is that you have valuable accurate information based in truth and fact, not hype and misinformation. Information that you need to make educated business decisions that will effect how well you do - or not.

"Wanting", "feeling", "thinking" doesn't cut it! Doing, planning, reviewing and taking action in an environment that is fluid and constantly changing is what works. What other medium do you have the results of your efforts at your fingertips 24/7? None! It is astounding at the number of folks who do not utilize those resources! Get intimate with your stats - review them at the end of each month because by not doing so you simply do not have the information you need to make the necessary decisions moving forward.

Don't blame the Web, don't blame the Search Engines, don't blame the fact that to reach your goals one has to spend more time and/or money - try new things - all the time! That's what this gig is all about - learning, changing, doing - rolling with the proverbial punches! Certainly, don't believe friends and associates who claim unbelievable results without the efforts mentioned here - impossible!

If any site is not receiving the traffic they want, the only person to blame is the site owner. If one is unwilling to rise to the occasion and participate based on facts and reality of what technology demands instead of spending that energy complaining the Web or technology is too difficult, requires too much effort or costs - I am impotent to assist. Whether you like these commandments or not is moot. If you want to succeed online which generally means you have to get found, you have only one choice to make. Either know the rules and play by them or do not plan on even finishing the game.

If you have neglected this area of your Web program, here are some issues to consider:

Check your stats. Do you see traffic coming from the big name Search Engines/Services? If not, we need to run a Search Engine report and get to work! Now, keep in mind that tracking reports are just that - tracking. They reflect the data for the phrases you are tracking. These tracking reports do not improve listings, they only state the fact of where you land for the phrases being tracked at that moment in time. That is where your stats come in - stats show exactly what phrases you are being found by and from what service so that we can accurately track what is working! Between tracking reports and your site's statistics only then can you get the full picture of what your next move should be.

When was the last time work was done on your site? Those files are dated you know and Search Engines can come by and ignore you if your date is past their algorithm. Fresh, growing, content rich sites garner better listings.

If you have not revamped your top page specifically for optimum Search Engine listings in the last 3 months, know you are not using the latest strategies and variables both visibly and in your code to boost your listings based on current criteria.

How many links do you have TO your site? Links TO your site boost your "popularity levels" with some of the crawlers - but only when done correctly and with diligence. Keep in mind that all links are not considered equal! Free for All (FFA) or cooperative link pages can actually cause your listings to suffer. Quality sites linking to you that are complementary in topic works best. Popularity levels are also tracked by how many times your link at a Search Engine is clicked on with a combination of how long a visitor stays at your site. If they click in and click right back - that is not a good sign and you could loose positioning. If your site isn't listed in the first place you cannot even begin to build a popularity ranking.

If you are getting under 10M of traffic, your listings are lean and you need to get a plan! If you have this level of traffic or more and are not getting inquiries, you are being found. The question then becomes why aren't folks contacting you? The answers to that question are unique to each site and market and are too numerous to mention here. I'll save that discussion for another article. [See my article: Turning Hits into Clicks]

Never just go to Search Engines and type in any phrase you "think" you should pull by. Remember, you should have advised your developer specific phrases for this purpose - those are the terms you should search for yourself by. And, also keep in mind that every Search Engine will list you differently for the very same keyword phrases based on their own unique set of criteria. They all work differently. Sites within the very same industry will pull quite differently based on how they are structured, what keyword phrases were used, when the site was developed, popularity and link ratios, and how aggressive they are with their ongoing listing efforts.

What's the bottom line? The entire Search Engine scene is very confusing to most - and frustrating as well. There are no guarantees, the only thing consistent is inconsistency. That is why no serious site owner should rely on Search Engines alone when there are so many other things they can be doing to gain additional exposure. Search Engines should only be considered a part of your marketing puzzle - not the end all be all. Don't blame the Web because it is so unpredictable - that is the nature of the beast and what some of us find so exciting! If disappointment is yours, it is because you have not used technology to it's fullest by being involved or made the commitment to insuring results based on information provided. Both of which can be changed from this moment forward! ;-)

About the Author

Judith C. Kallos is a respected Technology Muse and Coach specializing in Technology Fusion eBusiness Services and Personalized Business eStrategy Consulting. For more information on Judith and the Internet Studio, Inc. visit: (http://www.theistudio.com/)