We met yesterday with a prospective client who expressed frustration about not showing up in the map section of a Google search. We explained that not having a website — the company in question has no website at all — kept a company from doing well in search. “Can’t you just pay Google $5 or $10 a month?” he asked.
Don’t laugh. No, you can’t pay Google to show up in search when you have no website, but that’s not so far off from something a lot of companies do: paying a fee every month for a web page that doesn’t belong to them and will disappear as soon as they quit paying that fee. We run into equally unrealistic ideas all the time, some of them based on old ideas about SEO that might once have worked but now don’t.
When the internet became a force in our lives in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there weren’t very many websites. Search engines were dumb. When people searched for a term, the search engines would basically just show all the examples of that term that they could find.
Search engines got smarter gradually. First, they figured out ways to allow site owners to communicate what their sites were about, then they figured out how to keep site owners from cheating. They added numerous extra factors that help the search engine spiders to make judgements about websites that are closer to the judgements that people make about websites.
- You can no longer trick a search engine into showing your website by using meta tags that don’t accurately represent your website… but you can help people decide to click through by writing good meta descriptions.
- You can no longer trick a search engine into ranking your search engine well by using misleading titles… but you can use unique titles on each page to help search engines identify the main point of each page.
- You can no longer trick a search engine by scraping or generating poor quality content to make your website look bigger than it is… but you can add quality content to your website regularly to increase its value.
Do you notice a theme here? Anything that sounds like a way to trick search engines is not going to work. Modern search engines use a lot of factors to determine rankings, but the basics are these:
- a quality website
- links from other quality websites
Add social media to the mix, since it impacts individual search results, and forget all those things you’ve heard about tiny changes you can make to your meta data or the importance of putting keywords in specific sentences.
At Haden Interactive, we have always focused on quality content, just as the search engines do. We keep up with changes in search engine algorithms and best practices, of course, and we keep up with other aspects of online marketing. We don’t get distracted by trendy tricks — and we sure don’t hold on to the trendy tricks from the past that now can get your site penalized. Join us — get rid of that SEO time machine.