Frequently Asked Questions About Internet Marketing, Search Engine Marketing and Website Effectiveness


Search Engine Optimisation (ranking high in the free listings of the Google and Yahoo search results)

When should I bring in a search engine optimisation expert? Should I wait until my website has been launched and then optmise it?

The time to consider search engine optimisation and website effectiveness is before your website has been designed and built. The way your website is designed and built will affect how easily search engines such as Google and Yahoo can find your website's information. The way your website is built also determines your options for telling Google and Yahoo what's important on your site.

If you have had an existing website but are planning to launch a new website, your existing pages may have built up history and trust with the search engines that you will want to preserve. A search engine optimisation expert can help you launch your new site while preserving the history of the old site.

Plus, thinking about website effectiveness and usability early in the process helps ensure that your website is on track toward doing what you expect of it.

Is adding keywords and metatags all there is to search engine optmisation?

Making sure you have appropriate metatags and appropriate inclusion of keywords is indeed important. However, it's not that simple. Some metatags are virtually disregarded by the search engines because they say nothing about how relevant a particular webpage is for a particular search.

Also, each time someone does a search, Google and Yahoo need to find the most relevant webpages from the billions that are out there. Keywords and metatags aren't enough. Google considers more than 200 "signals" when deciding which pages to rank high in the search results. If your competitors are getting good search engine optimisation advice, they are actively working on a lot more than simply keywords and metatags.

Are there tricks such as linking schemes that will guarantee that my website ranks high?

There are search engine optimisation firms that use linking schemes and other tricks to improve their clients' rankings in the search engine results. And tricks like thses often do work for awhile. The problem is that most such tricks violate the guidelines of Google, Yahoo and other search engines. This is because they are contrary to the search engines' goal of providing the best quality, most relevant search results.

Google, Yahoo and other search engines are actively working to identify and shut down those kinds of schemes. That means that using such a scheme may give you success in the short term, but there is no guarantee that your website will do well (and avoid being penalized or banned from the search results) tomorrow.

The only sure way to get good, sustainable rankings is to improve your website's fundamental signals in a way that is consistent with Google's and Yahoo's guidelines and their goal of presenting the best and most relevant search results.

Can you guarantee high rankings in Google, Yahoo and other search engines?

No, because at the end of the day, there are only a few webpages in the top search results, and it's the search engines' decision which sites they put there. A big factor is the strength of the competition in your area. If there are a lot of pages similar to yours and your competitors are devoting a lot of resources to ensuring that they rank high in the search engine results, then you may also need to devote more resources if you hope to beat them.

How long will it take for my site to get high rankings in the Google and Yahoo search results?

Typically, this is not simply a one-time activity that results in high rankings in a few weeks. Depending on the nature of your website and the nature of the competition, reaching your website's potential usually takes approximately a year. Early leaps may be possible within weeks, but most sustainable ranking gains take many more months to truly put in place. Typically, your search engine optimisation professional will work with you on a retainer basis for a period of at least a year.

What is changing about the goal of being in the Top 10 of Google search results?

It used to be that if your website had pages on the first page of the free search results, you could consider your site to be ranking very successfully. However, now the first page of the search results is different from what it used to be a few years ago.

Now, the top space on the page often show advertisements ("Sponsored Results") followed by special results such as links to maps, images, reviews, local directory listings, news articles, etc. These kinds of special results may also be sprinkled in amongst the familiar results that you've been accustomed to seeing.

In addition, Google now offers "personalized" results when possible. This means that your search results for a particular search query may quite possibly be different from your neighbor's results. Your results depend on factors such as your search history and the areas of interest that Google associates with you.

All of this means that the assumptions about search results that most people have had now need to be considered in this new context.