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I title this because of all the topics that surround Google. I see a constant struggle in topics and conversations here at WebmasterWorld.com. How to keep your ranking, how to improve your ranking without worry of getting booted off the engines, and the “oh darn I missed the indexing!” topics.
The question I ask myself: Are search engines that big of a deal? And is all this talk just talk.
No flying objects please… ;)
I have actually enjoyed playing with Google. By playing I mean I have been toying with a variety of methods, then twisting them up at my will to get listed exactly where I want to be. Currently I gloat that I have consistent rankings in the 1-10 and 11-20 in all the places I want to be. By will again, if I am not there I will put myself there. Of course I owe this all to the people of WebMasterWorld.com. It is HERE I seek to find the truth, and play with what I call the “Established Rules of Google”.
WARNING: This may be a little long winded but I actually have a point. So now is your chance to back out.
Before I get into my topic Google Fears - Let me introduce myself and tell you what I think based on experiments I have done. My real name is not “eboda” obviously – but Scott Slone. A web developer here in Oregon and maintain two of by business websites GoVigor.com, and BranchNetworks.com. I came into all this via paynt. Paynt, is really the one responsible for my second obsession “search engine rankings”. Though our philosophies collide at times, it puts a sweet balance in our association. With that said – I move on with my topic.
I started this the easy way – I never really had a place on Google or any engine for that matter. I have been in business for 3 years and never depended on the Search Engines for my success. So I began from “ground zero” and achieved a higher search engine ranking based on information provided by the WebmasterWorld community. But there is more… In order for me to keep my ranking I have to worry about new monthly born rules, tricks, and methods established by Google and those in the community. For me it balances between interesting and boring or even a waste of time. But I play the game and I think I am playing it quite well. (Still a newbie).
What is this work worth?
The one thing I don’t really hear at WebmasterWorld is the success that high rankings have brought to small to large scale sites. There is a lot of wisdom here at WebMasterWorld.com that flows like golden honey. It sounds so good to everyone that it seems to become an obsession. Along with the obsession of higher rankings in search engines follows paranoia. I quote: “Where is my site, its no longer listed”, “I have lost my position on Google!” and so on and so on… I ask again is it worth it?
I began by trying to answer my own question above.
While I achieve a high positioning on Google in the areas I want to be, have I gained any business success in relation to high rankings? The answer is No. I know this because I have taken a survey from my customers. Only 1 found me via search engine. (okay technically 1 customer could be one more that I did not have before – but seriously.) The rest of my customers found me via my other marketing methods, which I have always known work solidly.
But why not more success from my high rankings in Google? I have pretty good content and is relevant to my target audience, and my prices are reasonable.. and heck! I have ecommerce solutions like merchant account, shopping cart system. So What’s up?!
As a business owner I have to assume based on my customer surveys, research, and facts that getting my site to the top has not paid or made up for the time and work invested. Which poses another question – is SEO really worth it? Or is paying a SEO worth your investment?
If I had to pay someone to optimize my website, position me where I want, and so on… I would have paid a pretty penny for sure! Would it have been worth my money? Fortunately I am my own developer, but its lost time. On the flipside, when I achieve success from my high ranking I will be the first to tell everyone and if I get rich… Well the first round is on me!
Google Fears. Tell All!
* Is your ranking and worries that come with it really worth it? Tell us about it and the success it has brought your business.
* If it has been a headache, or a waste of your time, why do you think it has failed your success?
- Good day, eboda
(edited by: paynt at 4:36 am (utc) on May 5, 2002)
I do find the concentration of power in Google worrisome. With their recent penchant for banishing sites, including apparently sites who are not spammers, the stress level around update time is pretty high. One site I work with is deriving 3/4 of its traffic from Google and Yahoo/Google. The volume is great, but if Googlebot hiccups that site will fall off the radar.
As far as reciprocal linkage, to some degree links are their own reward. Many end up generating little or no traffic, but a good link campaign will almost always net a number of winners.
I was trying to point out that I was disapointed in the search engine results. I am in all the key areas I want to be and then some, and placed next to my competitors.
I am getting better business via traditional marketing methods (eg. Physical marketing, linking and banners.) then I am from the search engines. So as a result, I question if Seach Engine Optimization is really worth it.
Sure SEO sounds great, and it can bring in extra dollars to a web development business and make your customers happy. But what are they really paying for? Is it worth their dollars?
What is the success in this for other businesses? Research is what I am interested. Success in Linking, Success in high listings on Google - or on other engines. Which engine is the best if you’re listed at the top.
I love Google - don't get me wrong. If we are going to promote this SEO, and Linking varieties then it would be perfect to have some concrete facts to back us up. The stress people put on high listings needs to be validated I think.
15 months ago 10 unique visitors a week
Yesterday 740 unique visitors for that day.
64 % came from Google
Only 1,5 % of visitors actually request info or quotations (which I find dissapointingly low as a percentage but high in absolute numbers - and yes the info-request percentage is lower with Google than on other search engines)
30% of my business is now derived from my home page visitors which came through search engines.
I have cancelled showing up on a business related fair (200 visitor a week on my stand) and decided to translate my site into German instead.
So I think its very much worth it.
If you get more of your business through traditional marketing methods then you hit the nail on the head. The Internet does not create customers, it only allows you to direct the customers looking for your goods and services.
Advertising is advertising, the Internet is part of the marketing scheme but only a part. For some businesses, all of their customers come from the Internet and so it is a big deal. For others, there may be no business from the Internet. So spending lots of money before you know where your core customers come from is not very wise.
On the other hand, if you know that most of your customers come from the Internet and they are looking on SE's to find these goods and services, then the Internet can help you. Don't get caught up in all the hype, knowing your customers is the first priority.
Sure it doesn't hurt to dabble in the SE keyword "price is right" game but it takes a webmaster to evaluate success or failure. Most of my clients can't or don't want to pay for a full-time webmaster. I warn them not to expect to be in the top 10 unless the have muchos $ to play the game. In re-reading this, it sounds like I could be playing at a casino in Los Vegas - hmm...
It is a crap shoot and when my clients have limited funds to spend I feel obligated to help them spend wisely. I can't, in good conscience, advise them to spend $$$ on keywords or advertisements on search engines when my gut instinct is telling me they'll do much better by placing an ad in a trade mag or similar targeted advertisement.
But in the back of my mind I know I'm still learning so a nagging doubt lingers.
I may be a small fry in a big sea but I tell all of my clients that it's much better for them to spend their money on traditional marketing methods than to get into the search engine game.
Kudos Lorax! I think the SE game is based too much on hearsay and obsession. People are simply too obsessive and paranoid, but no one *really* knows what they're talking about - from what I can tell.
People have all these opinions about looking like link farms, reciprocal linking being dangerous, and whatnot. I have however seen entire pages full of links (legitimate of course) getting listed, and high.
I say - if it's legitimate and not SPAM - do it. Don't work around the search engines when, for so many years, they were working around you. They're there to find the most relevant content, so don't try to trick them into finding you, 'cause you're just contributing to the problem. You're trying to use methods spammers use and having concerns spammers have.
Worry about making your site work as well as possible for your visitors - even if this means having a page just full of links or linking to questionable sites (though usually you wouldn't want to do this anyway.)
OT, just wanted to reply to that. In my experience, there are people who do know, its just that they are conservative about it and they won't exactly publicise the fact that they could easily SPAM their way to the top ;) Thats half the battle....those who are not in the know are either thinking about spamming or trying to use the google spam report URL! :) Ive seen the experienced in here reference this "silence" ;)
RE Spending cash on SE's
I run small sites, and don't think it would be wise to spend $ on SE's. I'm quite willing to see how much free traffic I get before I hit any major bottlenecks :)
IMO, if you are in a competitive region, a competitive category, or sell nationally or internationally, there is room to pay money and get returns, if you know what you are doing of course....of which I can only speculate :)
>no one *really* knows
Well, in that case, there are some members around here who have be really, really lucky for the last 3 or 4 years.
I can only speak from personal experience. As a small business owner (real estate), the web, specifically the web driven by search, has been without a doubt my best advertising investment. It has dwarfed everything else, so much so that we have already quit producing most of our print materials and drastically scaled back advertising in newspapers. Our sites produce so many requests that we sell them to our competitors.
I also work with several small towns and state organizations that promote tourism. Though many are reluctant to give up advertising in other media (long story), they now candidly admit that it is a waste of their manpower and budgets to pursue traditional advertising when 60% or more of their first contact is coming through the web.
Well, in that case, there are some members around here who have be really, really lucky for the last 3 or 4 years.
I believe that's so. If you just work toward making a good site you'll get the returns you want more often than not. One of the last big projects I was working on before I became an SEO gets tons of SE referrals - and all I did was make it as useful as possible for the users. Don't forget, SEs are there looking for who is the best resource - not "who knows the most SE tricks".