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Reality check: There is no “magic bullet” when it comes to SEO

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 by Mike Cheley
seoIt’s remarkable to see how many Internet marketing firms today are actually promising page one organic search results. Typically, the promises of helping you achieve the Holy Grail of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will be found in your inbox and read something like this: Be found on the first page of search engines like Google, Bing, AOL and MSN! Read a little further and you’ll soon discover that this and so much more can be easily accomplished for anywhere between $5,000.00 to $30,000. If you’ve met these offers with skepticism, it might be wise to trust your gut instinct. If however, you’re intrigued by this too-good-to-be-true offer, there are some things you might want to consider before you go ahead and cut a check…

  1. There is no magic SEO bullet
    If you take nothing else away from this article, please remember that SEO takes a lot of hard work. There’s just no way around it. Just think about this for a moment…if there was a way for a marketing or SEO firm to guarantee page one organic (non-paid) search results, everyone would be doing it, thereby making search results meaningless. That’s way search engines are constantly updating their algorithms.
  2. You can make your site more search engine friendly
    While there is no magic bullet for high organic search engine rankings, there are things you can do from a technical perspective to make a site more search engine friendly:
    • Make sure a site’s navigational hierarchy is solid: It’s important to make sure all of your pages are linked properly – after all, links are the roads search engines use to index a site’s content.
    • Include alt text for images: While search engines can’t index images themselves, they can crawl and index image descriptions.
    • Use Flash elements strategically: While Web page elements designed in Flash look cool, those elements can’t be indexed by the search engines – essentially leaving a page or entire site programmed in Flash invisible to the rest of the world.
    • Include Meta tag descriptions: Embedding Meta tag descriptions on each page of a website allows the search engines to more accurately index and rank content on those pages.
  3. Content is king
    Search engines love content. They rank Web pages according to relevance and authority. Long-story-short…you’ll need to decide which keywords someone might use to find your page and then ensure the content on that page relates to those keywords. Essentially, the more relevant a page’s content, the higher that page’s authority. The higher the page’s authority, the happier a search engine will be.

While points 2 and 3 above are brief overviews of some techniques and principles that can be used to improve organic search engine rankings, they’re hardly intended to be the ultimate guide of SEO best practices. Rather, they have been presented here to illustrate some of the things you or those SEO and marketing firms can do to improve organic search results rankings.

So, let’s review…page one organic search results can’t be purchased, yet they can be earned though a lot of hard work. That said, if you’re tempted to pay a professional firm to do your SEO work, you might want to consider cutting the check to the organization that promises to help you improve your SEO rankings – rather than the organization promising to put you on page one of Google. The chances are more than likely that the first organization is grounded in reality, while the latter is headquartered somewhere in an alternate universe.
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