Thursday, April 21, 2005

Why Search Engine Marketing Is Way Overblown!

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by Jack Humphrey
April 20, 2005

I just had a customer contact me with a question that reminded me just how badly misinformed good people are about search engines and their true role in marketing their websites.

The question was regarding an inability to find my site under a certain keyword in Google. Then that my page rank for an inner page of my site was only a 2. The customer said that based on these two pieces of information he was wondering if I was really doing well with my traffic generation system.

Now, the customer above is a good guy and very well-intentioned. He is just badly misinformed about what role the search engines have in my success. In fact, they have very little to do with it.

There are only 10-30 desirable spots open on any search engine for any keyword search. After that it's all downhill.

If you are in a niche competing with people who have far greater means than you to nab one of those precious few spots, you are done before you start. Search engine marketing makes your business potential seem so much smaller than it really is once you realize there are much better ways to get traffic than constantly vying for one out of 10-30 spots available on a handful of engines!

When I started ignoring the search engines and started creating sites for people, my business changed drastically. I started getting more traffic and more sales because I basically put the role of the search engines in its proper place. Ironically, my search engine traffic started climbing when I made this change as well.

Glad I didn't spend that $4,000 on search engine optimization because they would have done what I already did myself!

Despite everything you have heard about the power of search engine marketing, realize this: the sun does not rise and shine everyday because of Google pagerank or any of their "earth shattering" algorithms.

If you are playing the search engine game and basing your entire business on the very bad bet that you will always have the traffic you do now because of a few advertising companies, (search engines) then you are going to go completely out of business someday.

I can't tell you when it will happen. Only that it will happen.

No expert marketer would ever count on the engines for all their incoming traffic any more than an experienced gambler plays roulette as a source of income.

The odds in search engine marketing are just about as bad as roulette. You can lose it all if you don't also base your marketing on sound, more stable principles that do NOT change over time.

Those principles are:

1) Linking: reciprocal and non-reciprocal (I don't give a lick about Google changing their focus away from link popularity - I don't want a popularity award, I'm getting real traffic from linking because I do it right!)

2) Feeding: Not using RSS to feed content out to other web publishers is a huge mistake. RSS and direct links from site to site are entirely replacing search engine traffic for many people. Learn about it and implement it as your first order of business if you are not feeding content through a blog or other means. There's a great portion your "missing" traffic right off the bat. And the gap between what you are getting in traffic now through the engines and what you COULD be getting through feed content is growing by the day!

3) Publishing: If you are not writing articles and syndicating them, you are missing ten times the traffic you are getting from the search engines (and I don't care how much traffic you are getting now - multiply it by ten and that's at least what you are missing out on.)

4) Networking: If you are playing in a sandbox all by yourself and isolating your business from partnerships and associations that would drive your traffic up - what are you thinking about? First, your idea is probably not new, so forget about protecting things that have already been thought of. And since you have published yourself on the web and are actively seeking traffic, the cat's out of the bag already.

5) Actual value: Do you have a "me-too" business? Then why would I or anyone else want to send traffic to you? Cookie cutter sites and junky 1997 design and content don't cut it these days. (They barely did in 1997!)

6) Actual content: Does your site appeal to any significant group of people as a credible information source? Is buying something the only thing people can do on your site? Good luck with that model. We ditched that with our content sites years

7) JV/affiliate program: Most online businesses can benefit from joint ventures and affiliate programs to sell their products and drive traffic. Chances are you are in such a business and if you aren't doing both kinds of ventures above, you must be really depressed about your traffic levels right now.

Because of the apparent widespread lack of factual knowledge website owners have about how to actually market online, I can totally understand the desperation and depression that could lead someone to throw themselves completely to the mercy of a billion dollar corporation. One that changes the way it ranks sites more often than a new mom has to change diapers.

The purpose of my message here is that there is a world of promotion tactics out there that have better results and less stress involved than search engine marketing as a sole source of traffic.

You can't be lazy to get traffic from other sources, but keeping up with what the search engines want you to do to rank well is not a job for the lazy either!

The question you should be asking yourself at this point is:
How in the world can there be so many successful business owners online that have lousy rankings in the engines?

And the answer is: We spend our time on the far greater potential for targeted traffic OUTSIDE the search engines and (in case you were wondering) we don't pay for advertising - AT ALL.

All it takes is hard work, which is the real secret to every success story ever written. Learn your craft. There is no magic button on the web you can push to make traffic happen.

Your work is only beginning once you have a store set up on the web. In fact, you haven't even BEGUN to work at that point.

Spending all your time on search engine marketing is a guaranteed way to become very disappointed in your results. Working on a well-rounded marketing campaign will never, ever fail you because you are in control of your destiny rather than totally dependent on the fickle engines.

--- Jack Humphrey is the author of
Power Linking Evolution at:
He is also the managing partner at:

Click here to get Free Targeted Website Traffic


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