|Know exactly what you're getting from your SEM.
With all the choices offered for search engine marketing, choosing a reliable service can be confusing and intimidating. Many search engine marketing companies make ridiculous promises. We'd like to debunk some of the popular claims made by some SEMs (Search Engine Marketers).
"We submit you to thousands of search engines."
Many SEM services claim that your URL will be submitted to thousands of search engines. The majority of the engines these services submit to are FFA (Free For All) and Link Farm sites. FFA and Link Farm sites are simply websites with pages and pages of URL links. Most links found on these sites take you to moneymaking scams and the like. In the sea of links on an FFA or Link Farm site, it is very unlikely that your URL will be found. FFA and Link Farm submittals also generate excessive SPAM (junk email) for the submitter. Some search engines may penalize your site for participation in FFA and Link Farm sites. One link in from a relevant site is worth more than a hundred FFA and Link Farm links.
"We submit your site daily to search engines."
Services claiming daily submission are likely using automated submission software. Automated submission programs are very taxing on a search engine's resources. Just like most Internet users, the search engines don't like spam, either. Most search engines and directories simply do not accept submissions from automated software.
Google Information for Webmasters
"Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our terms of service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition GoldTM that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google."
"We guarantee you will rank #1 (top 10, first page, etc.) in the search engines."
Search engine and directory rankings are solely determined by each respective search website. Many services promising 1st place rankings encourage the development of obscure keywords that your customers would never think of using! Some even claim to bring your site up when keywords are types into a browser's navigation bar-- with an obscure plug-in few users download. Many services touting 1st place rankings are referring to pay-per-click advertising, not a search engine's "organic" results. Other services use outdated, deceptive techniques like doorway pages and cloaking.
The fact is, no search engine marketing company can promise 1st place rankings. Be wary of those who do. A reputable service will be up-front about the sites you are submitted to and what techniques are used to optimize your website.
"We build keyword-rich doorway pages to boost your rankings in search engines."
Doorway pages are web pages specifically created to increase search engine rankings. Doorway pages often contain little useful information to a website visitor. The text on a doorway page is optimized to target a particular keyword. Most often, the doorway pages is not linked to from any other section of the site. While doorway pages may have worked in the past, search engines will now ban sites that use them.
Yahoo! Help - Yahoo! Search
What Yahoo! Considers Unwanted
Some, but not all, examples of the more common types of pages that Yahoo! does not want include:
- Pages that harm accuracy, diversity or relevance of search results
- Pages dedicated to directing the user to another page
- Pages that have substantially the same content as other pages
- Sites with numerous, unnecessary virtual hostnames
- Pages in great quantity, automatically generated or of little value
- Pages using methods to artificially inflate search engine ranking
- Pages built primarily for the search engines
Google Information for Webmasters
What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?
Another illicit practice is to place "doorway" pages loaded with keywords on the client's site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO's other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.