The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Search Engine Optimisation Myth- Part 1

Just about everyone with a website ‘knows’ that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an essential step to obtaining traffic to their website. But SEO on its own is not enough and in many cases may do little for your website. In fact spending too much effort on SEO may be time wasted.

Consider the situation if you sell a popular service with many competitors. Such as selling books online. In this category you will have many competitors. Particularly as this service does not have to be local- it can even be provided internationally. Type in ‘books online’ into google and you will see pages and pages of online book stores. To get on the front page in such a category is difficult, with the top ranked store on page one having a page rank of 8. And if you are not on the front page you chances of being found are very small.

Now the knowledgeable will say, you need to SEO around a niche- for example “books on space travel”. And if that is your niche, that is exactly what you should do. But if yours is a general book store, you must consider other strategies.

And SEO will not get you to number 1 on its own. Traffic generation and linking strategy is also necessary. But getting a Page Rank of 8 is not impossible, but this does not come easily, and is a dedicated marketing strategy all on its own. The search engines have their own secret formulas for page ranking- which they change all the time. So to stay at number one, you are constantly fighting your competitors who want to knock you from that position, as well as fighting the search engines. This is not a do it once and leave it alone strategy.

So what should you do? Linking strategy is a key factor to build your website marketing. Although we don’t know for sure, quality links will give you higher rankings than just SEO. Linking strategy is also one of many traffic generation strategies. Search engines use your website traffic at your for ranking.

Also consider pay-per-click advertising. This enables you to jump the queue in the listings and can be very effective and much more targeted. Note that most people don’t even know the difference between the ads and the organic search.

SEO will help you improve your organic search results, but not in popular categories. And I would argue that there are far more profitable ways to generate traffic than sweating on SEO.

(Watch out for Part 2 of the Search Engine Optimisation Myth).

Dr Greg Chapman is the director of Empower Business Solutions.

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