Small businesses are always challenged by finding the right folks to help them improve their search engine visibility. Most small business are starting off with limited capital and therefore are challenged by the price tag that comes along with either hiring an SEO professional or outsourcing a reputable SEO professional who can assist them. What often happens is they end up finding someone who will “cut them a deal” and sometimes you get what you pay for. So what is a small business supposed to do? If you are a small business owner you need to get educated. Try reading some blogs from places like, search engine land to get up to speed, or sign up for Mediapost to read articles related to building an internet strategy. But most of all if you hire a consultant make sure they have not told you any of the following will help to increase your ranking in the search engines.
Here are a few SEO “I Don’t Think So’s”:
You Must Submit Your URL to Google, Yahoo!, and MSN On a Monthly Basis
While that might have been the case many years ago it is definitely not the case now. Once you register your domain name these search engines will find you. So don’t let someone tell you that you need to submit to over 5,000 search engines and directories just stop right there and say, No Thank You!
Organic Rankings Are Affected by Pay Per Click Campaigns with Google Adwords
This one always makes me laugh, but quite honestly there are many people out there who actually believe that if they run a pay per click campaign with Adwords they will get organic benefits from it, and believe it or not I actually spoke with someone who even thought that when they stopped running their pay per click campaigns with Google that their natural search results would disappear. Now come on, this is just simply not true. Paid search campaigns are an absolute benefit for many types of businesses, it helps to expand your exposure online and increases the chances of getting that prospect to your website where you can convince them to become a customer, but in no way will a paid search campaign positively or negatively influence your organic positioning.
Update Your Website’s Content Regularly to Gain Higher Rankings
While I am not against updating website content/copy and keeping it fresh this does not mean you need to go in every month and add a word or two, it simply is not going to affect your overall ranking the search engines. The only time you should update your content is when you have something of value to add that not only your potential customers will benefit from but also the search engines. Think about becoming a resource to your customers and a source of relevant information for the search engines to index and you will find that the spiders will crawl your site more often, but still no guarantee here on higher ranking.
Google Will Ban My Website if I Buy Paid Links!
You know this one is the worst, in my opinion. Not only is it not true but I am quite annoyed by this comment. Part of building a good solid online strategy may include at times purchasing paid link to increase traffic flow to your website. Google will not “ban” your site, if they feel the links are not relevant to your website’s content they may “discount” those links but they certainly will not “ban” your website, that’s just silly. Now I will say that when purchasing links one should absolutely be cautious of those strategies and ensure they will benefit your website’s overall website traffic. You will also need to be sure the site linking to you provides relevant information related to what your website offers, and finally try to stay away from those sites that are obviously adding tons of outbound links from their website. Just be smart about it and stop worrying everything will be ok.
Now I can probably go on forever here but I won’t. Here are a couple more thoughts:
Use of the Meta Keywords Tag for Higher Ranking
Do you need it? Well some might yes, and some might say no. Google does not really pay attention to it but it does not hurt you to have it, as long as you do not over do it. Keep it to about 5-7 relevant keywords and leave it alone.
Adding a Google XML Sitemap for Higher Ranking
The idea of adding the good ole Google XML site map is to let Google know about pages within your site that it may not have recognized already. Go ahead and create it you can easily do so by using a tool like XML Site Maps, and make sure you do not forget to add to Google's Webmaster Tools. While you are at it you can also submit it to Yahoo! Site Explorer and check out the Live.com Webmaster Tools as well - although the Live.com one is still in beta but worth a shot.
To wrap things up let me just quickly remind you not to use submission tools, and never believe an SEO “professional” who tells you they will guarantee you top listings in Google because to be real honest NO ONE can, how could they, even their top Web Spam Strategist Matt Cutts says you can never guarantee a #1 position in Google.
There are many consultants out there and some are willing to train you instead of tell you what they think you need to do. If you decide to hire an Internet Marketing Executive who can help with your internet strategies try to choose one that will not only be honest but one who is willing to share their strategies that will help you succeed online.