Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization


A Feroce Specialty

by Cameron Powell, Feroce Coaching






Search engine optimization (SEO) is complex, arcane, often highly technical, and ever-evolving.  Because even the most basic terms in SEO are not terms in use in mainstream language and business, it is very difficult for any SEO instruction to speak to an audience not already sophisticated in Internet and website terminology.  Moreover, given the constant competition among search engines, and their efforts to prevent the unscrupulous from gaming their systems, what was true (or, more likely, just a rumor) a few weeks ago may be proven untrue today.

Finally, SEO is an area of the Internet that is rife with mythology and therefore with hucksters.  Enter into its maw without foreknowledge and you can waste a lot of time, a lot of your money, and, in the end, get penalized or even banned by the search engines for the efforts others have expended on your behalf.

Our business is coaching businesses to success, not merely dispensing SEO advice.  Accordingly, I have no incentive or even ability to extract funds from clients based on poor advice or rumor.  Are the $12-40,000 monthly fees charged by the average SEO company really worth it?  For most businesses, no.  I can show you how to do a lot of it yourself, as well or better.  At this point, you can read about the critical importance of search engine advertising to any online business, or read on about some of the myths and traps below, or, if you’re pretty sophisticated in SEO already, jump briefly to my Summary of SEO Best Practices.

I have every incentive to make sure my clients are conservative, and don’t get in trouble, and that’s why I coach SEO only with non-deceptive methodologies.  And by telling you what to avoid, I’ll not only make you less likely to get into search engine trouble, I’ll save you a great deal of money and time and effort on things that simply don’t work — or worse.  I’ve spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours over the last two years researching and synthesizing best practices on search engine optimization.  After so much drudgery in the trenches (and the humidity of the chat-rooms), it gives me great pleasure to be able to pass on to coaching clients what I’ve learned.

I’ll start with some common myths.  Who doesn’t love debunking myths?

Why Use Search Engines?  First, let’s be sure we’re reading from the same script.  If you don’t understand the importance of search engines to an online business, read Why use Search Engines? now.


The Myths

1.  You need a web developer or someone very technical to implement SEO for you.

Wrong.  It can help, and is cheaper, if you have control of your own web pages and have rudimentary knowledge of an HTML editor (Frontpage, Dreamweaver, Adobe). But even that isn’t necessary.  I can give you, or your webmaster, all you need to know to start optimizing your website for the search engines, and none of the work could be reasonably characterized as “technical”.

2.  My webmaster knows about search engine optimization.

Well, no.  It’s a very rare webmaster who doesn’t still think SEO is about metatags.  That was the buzz word, in 1998.  But now, the best search engines place very little emphasis on metatags.  And those that pay attention aren’t looking for what you think they are.  And of those webmasters who do know something about SEO, you still need to be very careful.  A lot of them are, frankly, cowboys.  Except they’re cowboys used to being anonymous, and not really accountable for their actions (thus hacking, and “flaming” in chat rooms).  Their incentives are all messed up.  They often don’t have serious investments in businesses themselves, nor in their reputations in the mainstream business world, and so are sometimes too willing to risk your (or even their) businesses with the latest tricks.  Caveat emptor!

One more thing.  Many web site developers actually use technologies that completely prevent search engine spiders from indexing their pages’ keywords.  Did one of those developers build your site?

3.  I need sophisticated technologies and tools to do SEO myself.

This is related to #1.  You don’t.  I can show you all the tools you need to have, and many of them, often thanks to the webmasters I mention above, are free, and easy to use.

4.  SEO is about using your keywords a lot.

Not really.  This was true a few years ago.  Then the search engines got wise.  Now they penalize any web page that uses the same term more often than reason would dictate.  How do you know how often reason dictates, according to the search engines?  You don’t, but through trial and error and studying successful sites, I’ve got some good advice for you.

5.  SEO means you need to do a lot of link-swapping with other websites so that more sites point to yours and make yours look more important.

This is partly correct if you eliminate the part about link-swapping.  Google was founded on the notion, common in academia, that the measure of an article’s (or web page’s) importance is how many other authors (or pages) cite (or point to) it.  Sites that point to your site (i.e., links to you on those sites) do indeed suggest to the search engines that your site is “important”.  And of course there are now entire cottage industries of “reciprocal link” and “link-swap” websites (and some called “free for alls” or FFAs) that will hook you up with people willing to link to you if you’ll only link to them.  Some of these can be useful, in moderation.

But which ones?  Not all inbound links are created equal — or are even useful (much less something you should pay for).  And if you don’t do it in moderation, do you really think multi-billion-dollar search companies like Google, Yahoo, and MSN haven’t figured out how to tell when an unlikely number of incoming links to your site — are reciprocated by your site?

And what should those links on those other sites say, exactly?  There’s a whole separate branch of SEO devoted just to this.

6.  Search engine chat-rooms have a lot of useful information on search engine optimization.

Actually, if there’s any useful and reliable information provided near chat-rooms, it’s often by the site hosting the chat-rooms.  I emphasize “reliable” because, while there are many people in the chat-rooms who know their stuff, there’s no way for you to know who they are.  And most of those in the forums know a little bit about SEO and a great deal about needless anxiety.  This is the primary function of chat-rooms:  the manufacture and dissemination of hysteria.  If you want to get worried, go to a chat-room.  It’s like reading a beauty magazine — a good way to see all sorts of reasons to wonder what’s wrong with you.  But not good for much else, and certainly not for the sober business of running a business.

Related Articles:
Why Use Search Engines?
Summary of SEO Best Practices


The best, top Search Engine Optimization online coaches serve clients in Los Angeles, San Francisco
and the Bay Area, Miami, Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis,
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