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Search Engine Myths

Confused by all the claims by search marketers about how search engines work? We were too!
It's no wonder that many website operators are left scratching their heads when trying to assess competing claims about search marketing consultants...the amount of misinformation out there is staggering, and heaven help you if you don't listen to them or you're destined to fall off into the long-tail of rankings, relegated to the tenth page of search results! If I had a nickel for every time I've heard this...
The truth is less dire, of course, and separating fact from fiction will help you hold onto your money. Let's looks at some of the more popular claims:
We'll submit your website to 1500 search engines, directories and link exchange sites every month!
Wouldn't it be great is someone could wave a magic wand and submit your website to 1500 search engines? Unfortunately, in truth there are only a handful of "engines" (databases) that provide search results to many different search companies, which then massage the results for a particular market or vertical segment. The "big 3" currently are Google, Yahoo (which acquired Inktomi and Altavista), and Microsoft, and all the rest represent less than 10% of the market.
But how do you get your website submitted to search engines? You need someone to sit there and fill out endless submission forms, right? Unfortunately (for people telling you that), no...you don't have to do anything...the search engines will find you and index your website automatically. There are a couple of directory websites that you might want to submit your website to: DMOZ (the free open directory project), and possibly Yahoo's directory, for which you must pay a one-time fee, but neither of these directories will affect your search rank. Other paid directories became glorified link farms and are now ignored by major search engines. As for link-exchange sites, they have become so abused by link-spamming that the common wisdom is to stay away from them, as they can actually damage your search rank!
Guaranteed Search Positions!
You may have seen dubious late-night investment schemes on TV which always (by law) must end with the statement "Past performance is not a guarantee of future results". The same is true of search engine rank. Search result positions fluctuate constantly, and you may achieve that precious first position, only to fall to second or third a week later...why? Because rank is determined by many different factors, including not only what you're doing but also what your competitors' websites are doing, and even more importantly, who is clicking on your link in the search results. Obviously the only control you have is over your own website, and to a lesser degree the content that appears on other websites that refer back to you.
The only guarantee is that if you work hard on improving the content on your website and increasing its value to visitor, then your search rank will increase. And if you do nothing, it will certainly decrease if your competitors are interested in increasing their rank for the same keywords.
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