Think about the first thing you ever heard about "marketing a website" on the web. 99% of the time the first words anyone ever hears are "search engine marketing." Or some semblance of the phrase.
And from that point on, the hammering of misinformation never lets up. You are led to believe that your business will die a terrible death without the search engines. You are led to believe that only people who can guide you through the mine field of search engine optimization are the SEO "experts."
Also you are told time and again that the only way to market online PERIOD is through the search engines. You are conditioned over time to focus most, if not all, of your efforts on tricking the search engines into liking your site above all your competitors for search terms where "there can be only one."
Well, here's a wake up call: The vast majority of small business startups will never have the resources, time, or know-how to turn an idea into a profitable online business focusing only on search engines.
Just look at the deluge of information there is out there on Google and how to rank well with them. People are picking apart their ranking patent application right now to try an glean a website promotion strategy based upon what Google reveals in their application about their ranking system.
Is this information valuable to a small business wanting to sell its wares to a whole market rather than just the part of that market which uses one of the big search engines?
It is in extreme moderation, yes. In a well balanced marketing campaign that focuses on many ways to bring in targeted traffic, search engine marketing has its place. You do what you can, and you move on to all the other ways there are to promote your business.
Yet, so many people are falling victim to the gleam and glitter of search engine riches being pushed on them by SEO firms and people selling search engine how-to manuals.
It is not long before a new business finds itself wrapped up in a game where the only winners are the geeks and deep pockets.
If you do not fall into either of those categories, your business is doomed from the start if you hop right off the porch to play with those big dogs.
"But I hired a 'big dog' SEO firm to make my business stand out and compete with the geeks in my market niche."
More power to you. In actuality, unfortunately, you probably just hired a teenager from India with an internet connection in his parents' house. Most small business start ups can not come close to affording a major SEO firm. They charge corporate-level premiums to be able to access their services.
Everyone else in the SEO world is practically working out of their garage in comparison.
Scared yet? You do not have to be as long as you are spreading your marketing around to the non-search engine traffic you should be getting.
Writing articles and syndicating them in your market is a direct traffic strategy that has nothing to do with search engines. Except that search engines find your site through those links as well. But you should be doing it solely for DIRECT TRAFFIC from readers on other sites and taking the search engine traffic boost as mere icing on the cake.
You see, as people spam the search engines, they must adjust how they rank sites in order to compensate. This means a lot of good sites take a hit when Google changes the way it ranks sites.
You could have done everything completely on the up and up and gotten dropped in the engines because they made a new rule that everyone who registers their domains only for one year is a possible spammer. There goes your legit site. Hope you were not planning on search engine traffic for your SOLE source of traffic.
Can you see how dangerous it is to get bitten by the search engine bug? YES you can propel your business overnight from a profitless dead zone to a glamorous profit machine with one top ranking.
Of course that is possible. It is not likely.
People who are turning their small online businesses into success stories are doing one thing across the board: Conducting a multi-faceted marketing campaign that includes search engines along with a good mix of other non-search engine marketing such as reciprocal and non-reciprocal linking tactics too numerous to mention here.
If you want long-term success online, you must be willing to look past all the sleeze merchants selling you dreams of riches through search engine marketing.
Search engines care about one thing: Their own hides. You should care more about your hide than anything else and use a well-planned, disciplined marketing strategy that puts search engines in their place. Not in the epicenter of your marketing campaign, but just another tool in your toolbox for bringing in targeted traffic.
Do this, and you will escape the fate of thousands of startups this year who will realize too late that they hung their hopes on the wrong marketing strategy as their engine for profits.
Copyright 2005 Jack Humphrey