What Does SEO Have in Common With the Wizard of Oz?

In the Wizard of Oz, people were mystified and amazed by the powers of the wizard. But when they looked behind the curtain, they realized he was no wizard at all, and that his powers were all smoke and mirrors.

Unfortunately, this concept is alive in well within the search engine marketing industry. Let me give you a real-life example of what some  SEO  companies will do to drum up business. Then, I’ll tell you how to evaluate the true skill and results of a search engine marketing company.

So let’s take a peek behind the curtain to see what the wizard is up to, shall we?

The other day I came across something online that I found appalling. It was a promotional page that described the search engine marketing services provided by a certain company. Specifically, the page was aimed at real estate agents and the  SEO  services was being offered by a certain “Homes” related company that shall remain nameless.

Pulling Back the Curtain of Mystery

Having a background with search engine optimization, I found the company’s sales points to be shocking and downright deceptive. One of their claims was that “your website is guaranteed to be indexed by Google within 60 days!” Yes, it had exclamation points and everything, as if this were the biggest and boldest selling point ever made by such a company.

Of course, those of you who are familiar with  SEO  and the process of search engine ranking are probably wrinkling your noses at this statement already, because you realize this is no major accomplishment (to say the least). If you are not familiar with the process of search engine optimization, then let me explain why this “selling point” is anything but…

If you publish a new website online and do nothing with it (no promotion, no networking, not link building, no nothing), the major search engines will still find it through their routine web-crawling process. And they will probably find it in less than 60 days. In fact, as the fastest of the search engines, Google will probably find the new website in a couple of weeks.

Now let’s say that you point a few links toward your new website from other websites. You could do this by submitting the website to a few web directories, by publishing a press release online, or by some from of networking. Now the search engines will probably find your website within a matter of days, not weeks.

You can see my point.

It’s Like Selling the Sunrise…

This company (and the many like them who make similar claims) is taking something that will happen automatically and passing it off as a selling point for their search engine marketing service. They are guaranteeing to get their client websites indexed by search engines, which is something that will happen anyway.

It’s also worth nothing that being indexed by a search engine simply means that you are listed in their database — it doesn’t mean you will be ranked well for key phrases. Getting your site indexed is the first baby step in a long journey to good rankings. It is not, by itself, an accomplishment.

It’s almost like me promising to make the sunrise tomorrow if you pay me a fee. For only $99 we will provide a service that is guaranteed to make the sun rise within 12 hours of your payment!

From where I’m standing, this service is being marketed to folks with lower expectations, or folks who are afraid to look behind the curtain and question the wizard.

Search Engine Marketing With Higher Expectations

But what if you expect more from your  SEO  investment? What if you actually want good rankings and higher traffic levels? Well, if you do, I salute you. It’s important to expect something worthwhile in exchange for they money you pay.

Here’s how to deflate the empty claims of search marketing “wizards” and get right to the heart of the matter:

First, do a little homework of your own to come up with a list of key phrases your audience might use to find the types of products or services you provide. Use a keyword-research tool such as WordTracker or Keyword Discovery to validate the phrases, and to rank them based on how often people are searching them.

Next, create a spreadsheet listing about 10 – 20 of your most important search phrases. Present this list to any search marketing firm you are considering, and tell them that you will measure their success by how well you eventually rank for these phrases.

What you are doing here is setting a proper goal for the  SEO  campaign by defining your own success. If you allow the search marketing company to define success for you, you may find that it falls short of your own definition. And you may have a wizard behind a curtain trying to mystify you with smoke and mirrors.

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