The secrets to search engine success, a secret no longer - Internet

What is the secret to achieving search engine success? Is it possible to rank well overnight? How long does it take? How much will it cost?

These are legitimate questions every website owner has. In my 15 years of working on the internet, eCommerce, and SEO, overnight number one page rank typically is the product of "black hat" SEO. It can happen overnight, but it is just a matter of time before your punishment is handed down. There are dozens of techniques to produce quality page rank without resulting in dirty tactics.

Here are a few interesting facts about the search engines:

* Over 70% of online transactions are initiated through search engines.

* After the first page in search engine results there is a 50% decline.

* Approximately 60 million Americans' use search engines daily.

This tells you that there is a fine line in becoming successful on internet. Whether it is a product or service, businesses and consumers alike are looking for answers to questions. The only way to become a problem solver (businesses seem to pay a good amount for this) is to have knowledge in that industry and become an authority in that field. With that said, provide informative answers to questions on your website. If there is a website that says it already, reference them. Do not steal content or translate it into another language and then back again so that it is a little different. Spend the time and it will pay off. Spending the time on "black hat" SEO is not much less than "white hat", it will also cost you one way or another.

There is not one simple answer to search engine success. If your website is offering information and you want to make money off advertisements such as Google Ad Sense and banners, then your information should be original and relevant, but offer something enticing.

Have you noticed the influx in irrelevant blogs, articles, and how to videos recently? The redundant information that ranks well in search engines amazes me and to sift through it is time consuming, yet they are indexed. There is a statistic out there that only 7% of websites are indexed by search engines. I am sure there are a few that do not want to be indexed, but it is not 93% of them. Most people build a site to get viewed. There are thousands of pages with original content that is relevant, yet they are left out. There is not one solid answer why, but the answers are out, you just need to know where to look. A qualified professional will know immediately.

A question I received from a local print company PrintFirm, Inc. which is rather large and established offset printer, but is having trouble achieving quality page rank for their website was...

How long will it take before we get to number one on search engines and remain there?

My first answer was "it depends on you and what you are willing to do while maintaining an ethical approach". The owner looked at me like I had dandruff (I do not by the way). Even though they have an eCommerce site they still can provide information to the public. I think their first initial thought is to offer as many products, but my approach would be to focus attention and take advantage of a niche market. As each new technology emerges it spawns a new market. The common denominator of these new markets is an insatiable need for that particular product. There is the old saying jack of all trades, master of nothing.

PrintFirm offers printing products for the past 13 years. Their information is original and is relevant to their industry, yet they didn't rank well in certain areas. For instance they offer business cards (for real cheap, I might add). Business cards produce hundreds of millions of search engine results. This is a very difficult topic to achieve successful page rank, but there are companies that are number one. So how did they get there? It did not happen overnight; they spent thousands, if not hundreds of thousands on perfecting their technique. They have also spent a good amount of time and sure enough their patient is paying off. You can not expect to be the new kid on the block and just take over, especially in a competitive industry. If it does happen, more power to you, you are good and lucky. Simply saying "we can do it better" does not sell.

Since, PrintFirm, Inc. has hired a full time Marketing Director dedicated solely to their white hat eCommerce techniques. I went back a month later to find out how it was going and they are performing better and on track for a successful campaign within a competitive industry.

If you are looking to hire or even outsource your search engine optimization, you should look into a budget of at least $3000 to $5000 per month. I am not a believer and neither should you be of the "Only $99.99 per month and you will get to Google #1 in 48 hours!" Longevity for high page rank takes time, effort, quality content and unless you have at least 4 to 8 hours a day to dedicate, I would suggest hiring someone to do it.

Here is a list and in no particular order are my top ten techniques to achieve a successful search engine campaign:

1. Blog, forum, and articles (these could each be one topic)

2. Classified ads (Craigslist, Oodle, USfreeAds)

3. Become an authority within your industry community (online and local)

4. Produce original content

5. Quality meta tags and data

6. Directory submission (quality, not quantity)

7. Quality links to your site from other sites

8. Research (keywords, products, competitors)

9. Social Media (Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

10. How to videos on YouTube (learn how to make a quality video...please)

There are so many available SEO techniques, but these above can be achieved rather quickly and are not rocket science. If you are selling products (eCommerce) then I suggest installing Google Analytics and Google's Webmaster tools. These are tremendous free tools that will help make informative decisions. If you are not familiar with installing tracking codes then I suggest hiring someone whom does.

Start a blog, a forum, and write an article. You might think that you do not have the time or skill. There are writers and professionals whom need work and do this for a living and have great ideas. Hire one or two, spend the money and have original content produced. Collaborate with that person and explain to them what you expect. You might find that you will take that person on full time if they can produce.

My last bit of advice is research, research, and your homework ladies and gentlemen!

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