SAGE Knowledge Base

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) FAQs 10406

Type: Info Publish Date: 10/18/2009 2:26:22 PM
Applies To: WebExpress, WebExpress Pro, PromoSearch Last Updated: 10/18/2009 2:29:21 PM
Platform: All Expiration Date:

What should I really expect in terms of search engine optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing the content of your website in order to achieve better results in the popular search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, etc.).  As the number of sites on the Internet has continued to exponentially grow over the past few years, it has become harder for companies' websites to get "to the top" of the various search engines.  This has created an entire industry of companie that claim to be able to increase your rankings on the search engines.  Here's what you need to know about SEO:

1. Does SEO really work?
To some degree, absolutely.  It is true that search engines look at a variety of aspects of the content of your site and use the findings to order the results when a visitor is searching.  If you do not have proper description and keyword meta tags, for example, your site will probably not be properly categorized and ranked in the search engine.  That being said, there are many SEO companies that purport to "get you to the top of Google" or make similar statements.  Our recommendation is to avoid these companies.  Anyone who is purporting to guarantee a particular placement on a search engine is not being honest with you.  Most modern search engines use a variety of factors to determine rankings, an content is only one piece (and a relatively small one at that).  Popularity of the site is the main way that Google and others determine rankings these days.  Therefore, you can make whatever changes you want to your content, but it's not going to necessarily get you where you want to be in a search engine.  It's just a good starting point.

2. Can I change the content of my site to become #1 in the search engines?
No.  See the answer above for more details.  It used to be a lot easier to manipulate the search engines through your own content.  Then the search engines smartened up to the trickery that was going on with site content and they developed ranking methods that the site owner is not in direct control of -- such as the popularity of the site.  Content is only one small piece of determining search engine placement.

3. Can I pay the search engine to be ranked higher?
No.  Search engines will take your money for sponsored links, keyword ads, and the like.  But none of the popular search engines determine placement of your site in the results list based on whether you advertise or how much you advertise.

4. Can I trick the search engines into thinking my site is something that it isn't?
No.  There was a time when you could use things like hidden text, repetive keywords, and similar methods to achieve "better" rankings.  That was back in the 1990s.  These days, the algorithms that the search engines use are extremely sophisticated.  Not only will they detect sites that are "playing games" to try to get better rankings, but many of them will actually lower your ranking to penalize you if you try to do it.  Therefore, be wary of SEO companies that purport to know "secrets" to getting better placement or that openly use schemes to try to achive better results.  There is really nothing "secret" about SEO these days.  The information on how to properly setup your site for optimum (at least as much as you can) SEO is widely available and widely known.

5. Do I have to pay a company to get good results with SEO?
No.  While many people choose to engage reputable SEO companies to assist with setting up their site for good exposure on the search engines, it's also possible for you to read up on how to set up your site properly and do it yourself. 

6. What should I do to improve my ranking?
First, adjust your keyword and description meta tags.  This is a good first step in achieving a good ranking.  Do not play games -- make sure your keywords are good and that they actually describe your site.  These meta tag fields can be adjusted directly by you for WebExpress and WebExpress Pro through the administration area. 

Second, try to get other sites to link to your site.  As mentioned above, many of the search engines use popularity as a key driver in search engine rankings.  The more OTHER sites that link to your site, the better your positioning will be. 

Third, be unique.  The more common your description and keywords are, the more other sites there will be with the same information.  It's clearly not possible for everyone to be "at the top" of the search engines.  So, instead of trying to be at the top of a long list, you can also help your visibility by making the entire list shorter.

Fourth, advertise and market your site through other means.  Even though SEO is a big topic these days, the reality is that in our industry most people do not buy promotional products from random websites.   Your website and WebStore product research interface are very important parts of your business -- but in general you're probably going to have more success driving business to your website through traditional marketing mechanisms (emails, newsletters, local Chamber of Commerce, referrals, etc.) than you are through the website search engines.

More Information:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Companies - General Information
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Additional pointers to get noticed by search engines

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